Good Things Come in Small Prefabricated Packages

Hot on the back of delivering a 16 metre, 10 tonne giant prefabricated module at Monash University’s Green Chemical Futures building, AE Smith has again proved “there is a better way” this time manufacturing 8 significantly smaller “prefab modules” as part of an onsite power, turnkey cogeneration solution AE Smith is delivering at 567 Collins Street for Leighton Contractors

1 Dec 2014


At AE Smith, we believe there is a better way: A better way to work safely; a better way to help our customers; and a better way to accelerate construction times

AE Smith Prefabrication Factory Supervisor, Ian Battams said the largest of the small prefab modules only took about 2.5 weeks to build: “The biggest module was 2.6 x 2.3 x 2.2 metres high and weighed about 3 tonnes. Another module, which had two large heat exchangers encased inside a heavy duty frame, weighed around 2 tonnes.”

“Tiny in comparison to the 16 metre, 10 tonne prefab giant we manufactured recently in the same AE Smith factory… The smallest prefab module this time was only 0.6 x 1.0 x 1.8 metres high and weighed in around 150 kilograms,” Ian said.

Ian explains that by manufacturing prefabricated modules offsite in a safe, controlled environment (as opposed to stick build onsite, in situ the “old” way) paid dividends beyond compressing the already tight program on the 567 Collins Street project.

“At AE Smith, we believe there is a better way: A better way to work safely; a better way to help our customers; and a better way to accelerate construction times,” said Ian.

Because of the controlled manufacturing environment – on the right project – the benefits of prefabrication to both client and contractor include:

Accelerated construction times;
Improved productivity;
Greater quality control;
Significant abatement of reworks; and
Reduction in onsite health and safety risks.

“Prefabrication also saves a lot of time in coordination. For example, material and equipment used in each module is delivered to our factory. I don’t have to book in deliveries as I would normally do if I’m receiving materials on a construction site. Importantly, I also avoid typical issues common on most construction sites like delivery bottlenecks or hard to find small deliveries on a big construction site,” Ian explains.

“Furthermore, the cogeneration plant is located on Level 3 and a few of the modules had close to 1000 individual pieces, which you would normally need to get to site and then man handle to Level 3.

“Because each of the prefab modules is being manufactured offsite, it doesn’t impede on the overall construction program. I also don’t have to wait for other stages of construction to be completed before I can start works. For example, while we were manufacturing the 8 small prefab modules at the AE Smith factory, the cogeneration plant room was being soundproofed at the same time,” said Ian.

“By manufacturing selected components of the cogeneration plant in prefabricated modules, we estimate that AE Smith has saved this particular construction program up to 8 or more weeks compared to outdated construction methods.”