Karlie Collis – College of Structural Engineers (Chair).
Modular / offsite construction is seen to have an ever-increasing share of the construction market. The increased focus on both safety and “green” solutions has been a major driving force. In shifting construction off-site, tighter controls and safer construction techniques are able to be developed and utilised.
So, how does modular construction affect the role of the structural engineer? Aside from the loads applied during transportation and erection, there is a much greater emphasis placed on coordination, communication and quality control. The Structural College Board has recently hosted an Eminent Speaker tour with Dr Sean Brady “Engineering Failure, Human Factors and the Role of Implicit Assumption”. The message from Dr Brady is one that resonates completely with those working on off-site constructed structures. Dr Sean Brady will be a keynote presenter at the Australasian Structural Engineering Conference in Brisbane (see ASEC2016.org.au) in November. All consulting structural engineers are encouraged to attend, noting that the programme is now available online.
The choice to utilise off-site construction will often influence the material choice; with a greater push for steel, timber and composite material use. This in turn leads to innovative solutions to deal with fire and seismic requirements. ASEC2016 will have a number of papers presented on these issues, including a case study for a site which incorporated a large proportion of off-site construction. A paper will also be presented that addresses the recent addition of verification methods for structural performance within the National Construction Code (NCC), which allows for the use of cutting edge technologies by providing methods of verification.
As innovation features prominently on the national agenda, we should consider the work in modular and off-site construction an opportunity to provide innovative and smarter solutions. ■