DfMA: Towards an integrated strategy for a more productive and sustainable construction industry in Australia

Craig Ashley Langston, Weiwei Zhang

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Abstract

Design for manufacture and assembly (DfMA) is an important part of the future of the construction industry due to the promise of speed of project delivery, quality control, worker safety and waste minimization onsite via purposeful design for manufacture and assembly offsite. However, adoption of DfMA in Australia has been slow. This paper investigates the barriers prohibiting widespread uptake and how digital construction will be a catalyst for improving use on commercial-scale projects. Six leading experts were interviewed to elicit their opinions, and seven recent case studies of high-rise modular apartment and hotel buildings constructed by Hickory were cross-referenced as evidence of DfMA capability. The experts suggested that the reasons for slow adoption in Australia were community mindset, government regulations and incentives, planning and building codes, unionization and business politics, finance, and supply chain management. The case studies suggest compatible building type and transportation distance are also factors. These barriers can be addressed by clever integration of building information modelling tools with lean construction processes as part of a proposed strategy leading to smarter (more productive) and better (more sustainable) outcomes predicated on growth in digital construction practices. The paper concludes with a proposed framework for change that conceptualizes the ‘ecosystem’ needed to support widespread DfMA in the Australian context, including the paradigm shift from building to manufacturing/assembly, the displacement of workers from onsite to offsite activity, and the expansion of interdisciplinary design and construct collaboration.
Original languageEnglish
Article number9219
Number of pages21
JournalSustainability
Volume13
Issue number16
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 17 Aug 2021

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