The success and appeal of volumetric module manufacture rests in the repeatability of units and design. Volumetric modular units are large building elements that can be linked together to form complete buildings without the need for additional superstructure. Modules can be steel or timber-based and are pre-fitted with electrics, plumbing, heating, doors, windows and internal finishes and commissioned prior to leaving the factory ensuring that defects are minimised and quality control is very high – they are then transported to site and carefully craned into position on prepared foundations.
By assembling volumetric modules in a precision-controlled factory environment, the production line techniques that drive module assembly bring speed of delivery, quality of end product and a dramatic improvement in productivity. The external façade, claddings and roof treatments are usually installed onsite. These can include steel frame units and panelised systems such as SIPS and CLT, with panels assembled in the factory and delivered to site ready for installation. They facilitate quick construction and can help to overcome labour or material shortages, as well as drive up quality or build volumes.
Although module selection can be significantly influenced by transportation dimensions and shipping distances between the manufacturing facility and the construction site, modules are easily transported to virtually any site conditions. Volumetric units are suitable for any building sector but are very popular in the education, healthcare and student accommodation sectors. Applications also include commercial offices, hotels and can also be a MEP plant room solution.
According to a report from the Waste Resource Action Programme (WRAP), compared to an equivalent, traditionally-built project, up to 67% less energy is required to produce a modular building. Some modular buildings are now being installed with energy-efficient systems such as energy-efficient glass, geothermal systems and solar panels pre-installed.