One of the first things to note about Design For Manufacture and Assembly (DFMA), is that the client and design team must want to embrace the methodology from the outset as it needs early input from the manufacturer(s).
Secondly, decisions will need to be made as to what will be designed with DFMA in mind, i.e. precast structure, steelwork structure, toilet and/or kitchen pods, curtain walling and many more. Some of these will impact strongly on the architect’s design so it is important that the architect and manufacturers work closely together at the early stages.
So where does the quantity surveyor fit? Essentially the quantity surveyor will be expected to understand the differences in design of various systems and the advantages and disadvantages of each so that during the early design stages they can give the correct cost advice. Once the product to be used is chosen, (either by appointment or tender), the quantity surveyor will be fully involved in the development of the design to ensure that the client’s requirements are protected. There could be other areas of the design which could be adversely affected by the DFMA design and materials used.
The quantity surveyor should be appointed by the client in the first instance to advise on the advantages of DFMA before the design is started at the concept stage.
A number of significant examples of use of DFMA:
- Centre Pompidou, Paris where the Client and Architect wished to have large open spaces without columns. The answer was to design a steel structure with services and transportation on the periphery of the building, many of which were designed to be in pods which were manufactured off site.
- Lloyds of London, where the architect wanted to investigate the use of pods for toilets and air-conditioning units, which were manufactured off-site and brought to site late in the construction process and inserted as a complete unit, which just needed connections to be made. This reduced the on-site work, and improved quality.
- A mining project in PNG required 400 housing units which needed to be manufactured off-site and delivered as a flat pack concept. There are many manufacturers around the world who manufacture such units but not all are to Australian Standards, which made it interesting when making comparisons. Also, they are not all manufactured to be used in all climatic conditions.
In conclusion, DFMA is the future as manufacturing off-site, because it allows better quality control, and has the potential to reduce carbon footprint. However it does rely on repeat business as setting up the manufacturing process can be expensive. The client will still need the quantity surveyor to look after his requirements financially which therefore requires the quantity surveyor to be familiar with the various systems available on the market. ■