Developing a method to assist engineers and researchers to evaluate the benefits of a modular configuration compared to conventional site build strategy prior to implementing prefabrication in mechanical, electrical and plumbing projects
Modularisation and Standardisation for prefabrication of mechanical, electrical and plumbing (MEP) systems have become more prevalent during the last decade with the growth of the prefabricated construction industry. Speedy construction, minimum onsite labour, improved quality and waste reduction are the key benefits that make prefabrication superior to conventional construction. However, in MEP, modularisation and standardisation are currently applied only to smaller systems, where integrated packaged units are used in heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) and other building service installations. Modular prefabrication is rarely practiced when services are located within the building due to limitations during installation and difficulty in coordination. The term ‘optimum modularity’ is not accurately used in the field and identification of modules is solely based on individual judgement than a structured method. The absence of a structured method for modularisation in MEP has made the identification of modules for prefabrication a time-consuming process that often fails to achieve the optimum module division with minimum installation cost. In most cases, this has resulted in modular prefabrication of MEP being the same cost as conventional construction or even higher. This is one of the main reasons that impedes the use of modular prefabrication in the MEP industry.
This research has formulated an algorithm for optimum module identification in MEP systems, considering the installation cost and the functional requirements of the system. The structured modularisation process developed in the thesis, identifies the optimum module configuration to achieve minimum installation cost, while satisfying the installation and operation constraints of MEP systems. This method assists engineers and researchers to evaluate the benefits of a modular configuration compared to conventional site build strategy prior to implementing prefabrication in MEP projects. The output of the developed algorithm estimates the installation cost of the optimum configuration and compare the cost benefits with the conventional case prior to implementing modular construction in MEP projects.
- Tharindu Samarasinghe
- Prof Priyan Mendis
- Prof Lu aye
Research partners and collaborators