Prefabrication can be a complex, interconnected web spanning across many stakeholders, companies, and locations on any giving project. Each prefabricated item’s potential dependency on material, sequence, or a host of other variables make executing a prefab plan critical to effectively delivering and maximizing the benefits of prefabrication.
In a perfect world, planning for prefabrication would begin in the early conceptual phases of a project allowing the design team to incorporate foundations for prefab into the design. While this is great for JV or IPD projects where the entire team is onboard and aware of the benefits of prefab, it is much more the exception then the rule. In more traditional design-bid-build environments, conceptual planning could begin as early as the preconstruction phases as the general contractor is breaking out a plan and costing the job. The final opportunity for planning is when the trade contractors are brought onboard and start breaking out their own prefab targets. Regardless of when a prefab plan is built, it can help successfully drive prefabrication on a project.
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Critical Components of a Prefab Plan:
Building a prefab plan can be captured by two key phases:
- Identification – Identifying and laying out all the overall scopes of work to target for prefab for a project.
Identifying the scopes of work to target for a project can be done at any point in the cycle of a project, well before design is completed and subs have been awarded the job. The GC can start to layout all the core areas they want to target for prefab on the job and document them in a collaborative environment that can be accessible by the entire team. At this point in the planning phase the who, what, when, or where likely will not be known, but identifying the core target areas allows the entire team to start to see and understand the targets from the early stages of the project. Planning at these early stages must be nimble, while many of the prefab targets will move forward, many may not and ultimately be disregarded. It is important to have the flexibility in planning to account for the fluid dynamics of the early stages of the project.
- Coordination – Building out a detail production plan for each scope of work that is moving forward on the job.
With the framework of a plan intact and all the overall scopes identified, the next planning phase is to fill out all the corresponding details to the plan. This will take place as the trade contractors start to get awarded the job and collaboration can begin between the trades, the GC and owner. It is critical in this phase that the plan can be built in a collaborative environment, allowing direct engagement from all parties. This allows the team to identify the who, what, when, and where with field teams providing input when they need it on the jobsite and the shop teams laying out the associated details of how the items will be built back at the shop. Successful planning at this phase will ultimately be what leads to a smooth production cycle and optimizing the just-in-time delivery flow for the project down the road.
For successful delivery of prefab in a project, planning is imperative in the process. It is key that you define processes and tools that allow the project team to not only easily build a plan around the prefab goals, but also share, communicate, and interact around that plan with all key stakeholders on the project.