Modular construction was introduced globally a good while ago. Fira is now introducing a new service, a bathroom pod equipped with technical building systems, which are considered to be the most demanding aspect of construction. Our pods are more than just modular elements: we wanted to integrate modular thinking into the process as early as the planning phase. We believe this benefits the entire construction industry, with the process improving profitability and facilitating smart solutions.
Technical building systems integrated into modules
Our bathrooms are completed, even in terms of technical building systems, before their delivery to the construction site. Technical building systems – such as heating, water, ventilation, sewers, electricity and data – are integrated into the modules at the factory. On the construction site, the modules are lowered from the roof through a shaft onto their places in the completed building. This reduces the need for interior work on the construction site by up to 50 per cent, as well as eliminating mistakes and saving time.
Design based on modularity
We are rethinking design. In traditional construction engineering, suppliers are not requested to design their modular elements until the building has been designed. Fira Modules is an opportunity to create fully modular designs, meaning that bathrooms do not need to be designed separately for each apartment or site, as bathrooms can be mass produced.
This can be compared to the automotive industry. The conveyor belt enabled the mass production of cars. Today, cars consist of a large number of specifically designed modules, and each car also contains a great deal of intelligence – that is, a computer. We are accomplishing the same in the construction industry.
Improving the productivity of the construction industry
This has a significant effect on the productivity of construction. A report published by McKinsey on the construction sector in 2017 highlighted problems related to productivity. According to the report, large companies are much more productive than small ones. Developers are a particularly efficient. Why is that? They have their own concepts that they are able to reproduce. This process raises their productivity to an entirely new level in comparison with companies that carry out each project differently.
In other words, reproducibility holds significant potential for improving the productivity of the industry. Modular thinking in construction enables reproducibility while also ensuring individual designs through mass customisation – much like in the automotive industry.
Sensors and data collection
Intelligence is another major benefit for developers, property maintenance companies and residents. Our bathroom pod is intelligent. It collects data and serves as a hub for sensors (e.g. water, air, humidity and electricity). Builders can make use of the condition data during construction. Residents and property maintenance companies benefit from the data over the life cycle of the apartment.
Collecting this type of data is currently difficult. Construction sites do not usually have data communication networks or Internet connections. The module is equipped with a wireless base station that supports various types of sensors. It brings intelligence to the construction site.
The data is easy to use through a secure, real-time cloud service. In the future, it will be possible to connect the module to artificial intelligence, such as Amazon’s Alexa or Google Home. The house or home will become an actively intelligent part of our daily lives.
What does all this mean in practice?
We believe that construction will change from managing individual projects towards developing construction services much further through cooperation and modularity. Making more extensive use of modularity and intelligence in the construction industry requires cooperation between builders, developers and designers from the very beginning.