A portable office is a mobile workspace that can be easily assembled and placed to provide a quiet and convenient location for meetings, completing paperwork, or examining plans. They are built using...
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This article takes an in-depth look at modular buildings.
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Modular buildings are buildings made up of standardized sections, called "modules," manufactured in a controlled environment of a factory away from the building's future location. The common factory-made, standard modules include walls, doors, ceilings, frames, and windows. The standard modular parts are built using the same materials and adhere to the same codes and standards as conventionally erected buildings. Then, the fabricated modular parts are transported to the site and assembled to reflect the design and specifications based on the plan.
Modular construction is a fast way of constructing a building. The project turnaround time for constructing a modular building can take as much as half of the turnaround time of conventionally built facilities. These types of structures translate into time savings. Despite the shorter construction time, modular buildings are structurally sound. Manufacturers of modular buildings focus on a specific type of facility or in permanent or relocatable modular construction. Hence, they possess top-notch expertise and qualifications to accommodate customers' specific needs. These manufacturers also meet or exceed quality expectations because of their advanced manufacturing methods and strict quality control protocols.
The modular construction companies are divided into two segments based on the modular building systems they specialize in: permanent and temporary modular constructions.
In a permanent modular construction (PMC), the facilities are built for permanent use at the same location wherein they are assembled. PMC employs offsite advanced manufacturing methods to prefabricate the sections of the building. Like traditional real estate properties, PMC buildings are not intended for relocation.
PMC buildings are built on permanent concrete foundations and can stand independently or retrofitted to an existing structure. Since they are intended to remain in one location for a longer time, they are constructed using highly durable materials such as steel, wood, and concrete. PMC offers excellent architectural design and highly flexible customization– a customer can opt to add lobbies, elevators, and stairwells. PMC is used in constructing multi-story buildings, schools, offices, and residential spaces. However, PMC buildings can take longer to assemble depending on the size and complexity of the structure.
In temporary modular construction (TMC) or non-permanent construction, the facilities, referred to as "relocatable buildings," are designed to have mobility so that they can be repurposed and transported to various sites as needed. Relocatable buildings comply with the governing construction standards and codes like PMC-built facilities. Their modular parts are also built in a controlled environment inside a factory employing advanced manufacturing methods. Relocatable buildings can be leased for a short-term agreement or purchased outright.
Relocatable buildings are ideal for circumstances that require the quick construction of facilities. These facilities include temporary housing, clinics, medical facilities, stores, and temporary commercial spaces. Since relocatable buildings are installed on a site for a shorter duration, they are constructed with lightweight wood and rigid plastic materials. As a result, they can be designed to be tough and durable to withstand several relocations. However, they offer fewer options for layout, design, and customization.
The following are the types of modular buildings:
Mobile offices are offices that have mobility features that allow office workers to function as if they are in a permanent office rather than in the field. The furniture and equipment of mobile offices are similar to those found in traditional offices. Electricity and other utilities are installed on the sites temporarily. Portable computer systems, internet access, IT services, and telephone and mailing services enable the company to connect with clients and various stakeholders even without listing a permanent address.
Mobile offices are towable or in a trailer truck or motorhome for easy relocation. Hence, they are highly flexible, which benefits companies with a transient nature of office operations. In addition, they can help reduce the overhead expenses of the company. Mobile offices are also ideal for contractors and freelancers.
Modular offices are facilities that provide office spaces in addition to in-plant offices and modular buildings. Their modular parts can be quickly assembled inside a warehouse or a manufacturing facility; hence, they have easier access to in-plant services. They are primarily used to serve the growing size of an organization that requires a larger space to accommodate the increase in personnel. They can also be used to monitor workers inside a manufacturing plant or factory; this type is referred to as modular factory offices.
Modular offices offer less mobility than mobile offices but are still a convenient option. In addition, they can be designed to be easily installed, repurposed, and relocated to maximize the utilization of space. Thus, company downtimes and disruptions brought by these changes are minimized.
Portable offices are offices built on bases that are accessed and can be transported by a forklift or a truck. These offices can be relocated easily without performing significant dismantling of the facility. Portable offices provide temporary spaces for increasing personnel and accommodate occasional or seasonal demand for spaces (e.g., festival and carnival booths and food trucks). They can also be put up in oil drilling and construction sites.
Prefabricated booths are enclosed small structures whose parts are manufactured in an offsite factory and then delivered and assembled to the site. The walls are built using panelized wall systems, and the frames and roofs are made of welded steel or aluminum. Prefabricated booths can be designed and customized flexibly. HVAC systems, sinks, electricity, water supply, internet access, and other utilities can be set up in these structures for the convenience and comfort of the personnel.
Prefabricated booths can be installed on a site permanently or temporarily for a short or long time. There are many types of prefabricated booths to fit a specific application:
Cashier booths are commonly used in movie theaters, amusement parks, sports facilities, resorts, restaurant drive-thrus, gasoline stations, and other commercial facilities. They provide a venue for the customers to buy tickets and for the cashiers to accept payments from the customers. Cashier booths have a sliding or a holed-type transaction window to enable these transactions while the staff is inside the booth. These booths are also equipped with security and anti-theft features to avoid the collected cash from being stolen.
Unlike the previous prefabricated booths, equipment booths are used to house equipment; they are not primarily intended for people's occupancy. These booths are temperature-controlled and protect sensitive equipment from harsh environments. Equipment booths are typically installed inside a plant or manufacturing facility.
Modular equipment buildings are more extensive than equipment booths. They provide more flexibility and customization options. They are used to house industrial equipment such as motors, generators, pumps, process control devices, and electrical machinery. Sound-proofing materials may be installed to block loud noises produced by such equipment. Features such as fire retardation and blast- and bullet-resistant glass and walls can also be installed.
Parking booths are situated in the entrance or exit of parking lots, buildings, and decks. Like guardhouses, they also house the parking attendant and check on incoming occupants. Parking booths are furnished with sliding windows that allow the attendant to interact and make transactions with the customers while inside the booth. These booths can also house an RFID system or ticket generators for increased efficiency.
Prefabricated shelters provide safe and comfortable outdoor spaces for customers, employees, passengers, and equipment that protect them from extreme weather, pollution, debris, and rain. They are popular in urbanized areas. Like booths, prefabricated shelters are also highly customizable. Some of the prefabricated shelter types are the following:
Screening booths have become popular during the COVID-19 pandemic. These booths protect the screening personnel while checking for COVID-19 symptoms at the facility entrance. They have contactless temperature checking stations that help screen guests, occupants, or workers. These booths are furnished with plexiglass windows and glove ports to facilitate the collection of specimens for testing. Screening booths have high mobility and are temporary; hence, they can be relocated easily.
Bus shelters are prefabricated shelters designed for commuters. They are situated at bus stops, and terminals, wherein passengers wait for their rides. They primarily consist of space with sufficient ventilation underneath a roof, with options like seats and even Wi-Fi connections that may provide inside the shelter. They protect the commuters from heat, smoke, dust, and rain.
Guard houses or security guard booths are located in strategic private communities or compounds (usually at the entrance). They can also be installed in security checkpoints. They improve the efficiency of security personnel in their jobs. They act as a holding and working area for security guards in monitoring the security of the region through surveillance monitors. Windows are installed in the walls for the security personnel to authenticate the passing residents and incoming guests or visitors.
An observation tower is a guardhouse that allows the security personnel to view the vicinity for 360°.
Portable buildings are movable instead of being fixed permanently to a particular location. These buildings are manufactured and assembled in a factory. They are constructed as a complete, stand-alone unit and can be transported using a crane, forklift, or truck. They are ready for installation once it arrives on the site. Portable buildings can be retrofitted to function as a cabin, barn, storage warehouse, shed, classroom, medical facility, remote housing, and more.
Prefabricated buildings are modular structures whose sections such as roofs, walls, ceilings, and furniture are highly customized, depending on the customer's request, and built offsite. The term "prefabricated buildings " refers to sections transported to the desired location and then fully or partially assembled. "Prefabricated buildings" are often used interchangeably with "modular buildings." Manufacturers of prefabricated buildings allow more flexibility. Meanwhile, modular buildings consist of standardized, uniform sections that can be sold as a mere product. The customer is responsible for the enhancement and installation of certain features.
Prefabricated garages are modular buildings used to house vehicles and protect them from nature and theft. They can have multiple rooms under a single roof to accommodate multiple cars. They are usually equipped with automatic garage doors. Enhanced security features may also be installed. Acquiring prefabricated garages is an excellent option for someone who wants to save money and time from building a permanent garage.
Prefabricated mantraps are modular rooms with entrance and exit access doors on opposite walls. They are used as a buffer area to prevent unauthorized persons from entering the restricted premises of the facility.
Prefabricated vestibules are modular spaces that provide additional security for buildings and homes. These spaces are extra rooms added to the exterior of the building. These spaces allow the personnel to check on entering tenants and visitors before entering the main building. These spaces also allow people to store their umbrellas and coats and shake off dust before entering the building. They can also help in energy savings by reducing the transfer or escape of heat through the front door.
Smoke shelters are modular spaces intended as outdoor smoking areas in offices, residential spaces, and commercial facilities. They are primarily composed of a semi-enclosed space underneath a roof or ceiling. They are popular in areas that ban smoking in public places. Putting up a smoking shelter can also protect individuals from secondhand smoking.
As mentioned earlier, the project turnaround for modular construction can take as much as half of the turnaround time of traditional construction. This is because the foundation work in the site and the production of prefabricated sections in the factory can be performed simultaneously, which speeds up the construction process. Delays due to adverse weather conditions, which could also affect the construction quality and safety of the workers, can be virtually eliminated. The completed modular sections that usually arrive on the site are ready to install, reducing time and effort.
Modular sections are manufactured in a controlled environment; hence, they are protected from moisture, heat, and weather. Manufacturers have the technical expertise and employ advanced manufacturing methods and extensive quality control procedures. Each modular section is inspected, tested, assessed, and certified before being delivered to the site. Hence, modular buildings are durable and likely to meet the governing building codes and standards.
Depending on the type of construction, modular buildings can be flexibly relocated and refurbished, which eliminates the demand for materials and energy in constructing a new building to meet a new need. In addition, units of modular buildings can be added to existing structures. Modular buildings are also ideal for remote locations or those hit by calamities and disasters, wherein onsite construction is difficult and expensive.
Since modular building sections are manufactured offsite, fewer site disturbances such as traffic and noise pollution are produced. Hence, the impact on the client’s business is minimal. This is beneficial for working populations in busy cities, whose productivity is negatively affected by such disturbances.
The air emissions, solid wastes, and wastewater generated by modular construction are treated by a factory's in-house facility and disposed of properly. This makes modular construction environmentally sustainable.
Modular building manufacturers also employ lean manufacturing methods to reduce waste in the production process while maintaining optimal quality and productivity. In addition, the material consumption and wastes are lessened and prevented by strict inventory control and providing suitable storage for building materials.
Modular buildings manufacturers and their customers benefit from economies of scale. Economies of scale is a cost advantage achieved by a company as it increases its production output. The fixed costs, including skilled labor costs, in producing modular buildings are reduced as they are distributed over more results purchased by different customers. The low production costs mean that manufacturers can sell a modular structure at a lower price, which is beneficial to the customers.
Transportation costs can be expensive depending on the distance between the factory and the location and size of the modular parts. Oversized vehicles may be needed for larger modules. Risks are always present when transporting and handling modular parts. Mishandling acts of negligence and accidents may cause damage to the modules.
Modular buildings may be restricted to a uniform design, style, shape, and design, as they are manufactured by mass production. As a result, they may lack aesthetic quality and convenient features from the customer's perspective. Furthermore, they are only built to provide the general population's needs; they are not user-specific. Thus, it is up to the customer to customize the modular building to make the occupants more comfortable.
Aside from the corporate, manufacturing, and trade industries, the sectors that commonly acquire and utilize modular buildings are the following:
Modular buildings can function as modular classrooms. They are retrofitted to accommodate chairs, tables, blackboards, and computers. They can even accommodate laboratories. Single or multiple classrooms may be housed inside a modular building. The school may acquire modular classrooms if the students enrolled have reached the maximum capacity. They are helpful because the number of enrollees each school year varies.
Satellite government offices can be established in specific locations to cater to a growing population, a seasonal or occasional need, or accommodate an increase in the number of workers. In addition, these offices may be refurbished to serve as administrative and management offices, training facilities, firefighters and police headquarters, and much more.
Modular buildings are valuable in disaster response since they can be put up immediately in emergency cases. In addition, these facilities can serve as a temporary shelter for calamity and disaster victims and a headquarters for disaster respondents.
Modular buildings can be a temporary extension of clinics, wards, and laboratories in case the patient capacity of the main hospital exceeds its limit. In addition, relocatable medical facilities are also utilized to reach patients in remote areas.
Modular, prefabricated houses may be purchased by companies operating in remote or difficult to access areas to provide housing to their workers. They can also serve as a student dormitory.
A portable office is a mobile workspace that can be easily assembled and placed to provide a quiet and convenient location for meetings, completing paperwork, or examining plans. They are built using...
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