In particular the Timber Offsite Construction event, designed to give attendees a broad understanding of the benefits of timber systems to the construction sectors, provided insights into the market trends creating opportunities for prefabricated building systems. The schedule comprised presentations from the architecture, construction, manufacturing and specification spaces.
Among them, Adam Strong, Managing Director of Strongbuild, presented on ‘Options for Prefabricated Systems in Construction of Residential and Commercial Projects’, including solutions for panelisation, structural and detailed joinery, mass timber and pods.
The presentation included a showcase on Strongbuild’s 8,000 square metre automated, advanced manufacturing facility and an overview of the wide range of projects with which Strongbuild has been involved, from a project entailing 64 residential town houses in NSW using a light weight timber framed construction incorporating closed panel walls and floor cassettes, to Macarthur Gardens, a multi-residential development in which all towers are CLT, incorporating 2900 m3 of CLT.
Presentations also offered insights into developments in the manufacturing sphere, with a talk by Stefan Schneider of CutMyTimber (Canada + USA) offering an international perspective.
Schneider’s talk covered the latest trends in the applications of timber including integrated technology, design, manufacture and building.
Developments in hardware (CNC machines, robotics) had led to more flexibility and higher complexity, with larger elements requiring bigger machines with more tooling combining panel and beam processors.
Looking ahead to what might be possible in future, software (CAM tools) looked set to offer more flexibility, higher complexity and optimisation in areas such as nesting and length optimisation, he said.
Meanwhile digitalisation was opening new opportunities in the $8.5 trillion global construction industry; including scalability, quicker project delivery.
Schneider indicated there were also potential challenges going forward. These included legal issues: “Who owns the model? Who is responsible for accuracy? Is a 3D model a legal contract document?”
Other challenges included the growing shortage of appropriately skilled workers; competition from other industries for technology workers; competing standards in software or hardware; lack of standardised processes or dataflow; and continued movement towards more technology that, while useful, would creating ongoing pressure for change.
Construction Workshop Session Chair - Warren McGregor, CEO, prefabAUS.
Day 2: Assembled Frame Australia conference delegates.
Frame Australia delegates also had numerous opportunities to see offsite solutions in action through a schedule of organised tours around Melbourne. One of these was the Tullamore housing estate in Doncaster. A collaboration between developer Mirvac and Drouin West Timber & Truss, the Tullamore development demonstrated the potential of panelised production for residential purposes.
Mirvac Construction Manager Kase Jong confirmed the residences on the estate combined both traditional timber framing and panelised floors and walls, with the cassette floors typically around six metres by 2.4 metres in size, and the panelised walls up to three metres high and six metres long.
Jong, who recently participated in the prefabAUS tour to Sweden in May, indicated panelisation was a promising solution that looked set to grow in the Australian market. He added that Mirvac aimed to increase its usage going forward to optimise the economies of scale and standardisation offered by panelised solutions.■