Construction: offsite manufacturing, digitisation, BIM

Offsite manufacturing is still rare in residential, multifamily construction. Only elements independent from technology of erection are substituted at construction stage. These elements can be precast with no need to change the structure or architecture of the building. They are stair flights, lift shafts, balconies, slabs. This approach limits the full potential of the offsite manufacturing.
How do we improve it?

It can be observed that the construction industry increases absorption of new technologies both in organisation and physical layers. There is a room for improvement. The reduction of waste, rework and collisions is possible if a conscious use of new technologies is put in place. BIM is an enabler, that integrates design and delivery by verification of the building before site activities begin and major costs are incurred.

The market becomes more and more challenging. It challenges both clients and contractors. The main drivers of the challenge are: cost increase, limited supply of materials and labour, possible new regulations in environmental impact reporting. There are many more, which combined tend to complicate the situation of the market participants. All the above should lead to a conclusion that the offsite manufacturing is a way to go for construction. This unfortunately is not the case. Most of precast wall elements manufactured in Polish factories travel to Scandinavia. Why is that the case? Why only limited number of developers lean to this technology when residential units market is booming? Why do they refuse to use components that provide durability, precision, time reduction at the same cost as in situ technologies?

Offsite manufacturing do have a powerful ally in information technology. BIM is supposed to address issues in construction as such. However repeatability of elements and details that happens in case of offsite manufacturing makes it extremely effective in design automation. Most of manufacturers I know do use the 3D models to deliver the workshop drawings. The true revolution will happen when the effective communication between designer, manufacturer and the site is enabled.

There are systems that allow the element status tracking at different stages (ie. manufactured, delivered, assembled, approved). Few people know that popular office software packages allow to deliver functionalities reserved for serious software used mostly by manufacturers. All systems use elements information, derived from the design and structured into data. Sometimes this data is related to the 3D model. The data can be transferred between participants in various forms, be it Excel file.

The data can be analysed, edited, updated by computer systems. This enables the digitisation of the various information ie. prefabricated elements, deliveries, assembly progress, approvals or snags. For example the widely used and underutilised Microsoft 365 may deliver live data to the project managers. This is process digitisation reaching further than BIM. It must be noted however that the basis for further digitisation of the process is in design automation and production flexibility.

The technology is there. Why the concrete mixer lorry is still prevailing to the trailer with ready-made walls?

Trebbi Polska takes part in a project that is different to most. The Developer who is independent from any manufacturer, decided to use the precast sandwich walls to build the residential development superstructure. Trebbi team consulted the structural design prior to the building design stage. The objective was to avoid technology mix. Cooperation with Trebbi will let you to achieve the design optimised for offsite manufacturing with no need to limit the architectural design and technology cost comparison.


Dr. Bartosz Zamara

Development Manager, Trebbi Polska

Patron of the practical use of modern technologies to standardize and automate the tasks necessary to carry out the investment process. Author and co-author of strategic studies and technological analyzes related to the organization of the investment process. One of the few practitioners of modern prefabrication in housing construction, not directly related to any of the producers. Speaker and author of numerous scientific and journalistic publications on the organization of construction. Co-author of the bestseller PWN spring 2021 “BIM for Manangers”.

Architect of IT solutions that streamline and automate work on an investment project with the use of popular and commonly used tools. Enthusiast of digitization of the investment process using BIM and other IT tools. He specializes in defining values ​​and selecting technological solutions at the strategic level of the organization in relation to internal processes and interactions with the environment.

During his professional career, he is involved in the construction process at various stages of its cycle, as a designer, investor, contractor and producer of building materials. Civil engineer, a graduate of the Faculty of Civil Engineering at the Gdańsk University of Technology, completed postgraduate EDBA studies at the Institute of Economics of the Polish Academy of Sciences and Project Management at Trinity College in Dublin. He obtained a PhD degree in economic sciences awarded by the Council of the Faculty of Organization and Management of the Lodz University of Technology.

Manager, auditor and consultant willing to share his many years of experience in order to support clients in the challenges related to the implementation of tasks during the implementation of the investment or subsequent transactions related to the construction facility.

Last Updated on January 14, 2022 by Anastazja Lach