Prefab Innovation Hub set to build a globally competitive industry
AMGC recently completed a feasibility study into the establishment of a Prefab Innovation Hub.
The study indicates that a Prefab Innovation Hub will build a platform for a globally competitive industry and create thousands of new jobs. The Hub will help Australian companies leverage the variety of benefits offered by prefab construction methods: speed, safety, sustainability, quality and productivity.
According to the Hon Karen Andrews, Minister for Industry, Science and Technology, when she announced the start of the Prefab Innovation Hub Feasibility Study in June 2019, “This sector is starting to build significant momentum and currently represents 3-5 per cent of Australia’s $150 billion construction industry. This share could grow to 15 per cent by 2025, creating 20,000 new Australian jobs and adding $30 billion to our economy.”
A Network of Innovation Labs
The feasibility study recommended that the Hub establish a national network of Innovation Labs to connect stakeholders throughout the building and construction supply chain.
These Labs will showcase prefab; educate and inform participants about the benefits of prefab and how to optimise them; and inspire new partnerships to stimulate research and development and jobs growth. This will be achieved through six key prefab growth drivers:
- Smart Prefab and Industry 4.0: Provide a platform for the construction industry to embrace advanced manufacturing capabilities including automation, digitalisation, robotics, artificial intelligence, augmented and virtual reality, the Internet of Things, and blockchain.
- Design for Manufacture and Assembly: Use design processes that help facilitate a collaborative approach along the whole value chain to make manufacturing easier, and assembly more efficient.
- Better Buildings and Bottom Lines: Demonstrate evidence-based cost, time and safety benefits achieved in Australia, and educate and inform how these benefits can be optimised across a range of applications.
- Prefab Procurement Pathways: Connect with government agencies around Australia to showcase the benefits of prefab, the diverse applications available, and established procurement programs.
- Prefab Funding and Financing: Facilitate roundtable discussions with the Australian banking and finance sector to educate and inform lenders about contemporary prefab and develop financing solutions.
- Navigating Regulations with Prefab: Work with relevant regulatory agencies to resolve any critical prefab-related matters relating to National Construction Code compliance and modular system standards.
Practical Application: Bushfires, Natural Disasters and International Aid
Australia’s devastating 2019-2020 bushfire season destroyed thousands of homes and buildings, which will take years to rebuild. The feasibility study highlights the role that prefab construction can play in the post‑disaster rebuilding process, as well as enabling improved building performance during bushfires.
The key benefits of prefab construction—speed, safety, reliability, ease of decommissioning and reusability—mean that prefab homes and buildings can be established in remote towns and communities more quickly than those built using traditional construction processes. This sort of rapid response time is critical for communities affected by bushfires, other natural disasters, and international crisis situations.
Supported by advanced manufacturing processes and Industry 4.0 technologies, research and development into prefabricated construction is expected to deliver improved performance against bushfires through the use of the latest fire-resistant and fire-retardant materials. It is likely that prefab buildings will be able to achieve the highest fire safety rating: Bushfire Attack Level – Flame Zone.
How the Feasibility Study was Conducted
The feasibility study draws on nationwide input from a broad cross-section of stakeholders directly and indirectly linked to the prefab industry and the broader building and construction supply chain.
The consultation process included five AMGC-sponsored workshops around Australia (involving 90 participants), dozens of individual consultations with key industry stakeholders, and an extensive review of local and overseas literature.
A Steering Committee, comprising representatives from the prefab industry, the broader construction industry and academia, oversaw the development of the study and endorsed its recommendations and findings.
For more information on the Prefab Innovation Lab please: