Today’s construction project are conducted in a very similar way to those of several decades ago: the bulk of work is still done on-site, with little automation and project optimization. What’s more each construction project is approached as an individual challenge, neglecting the many characteristics it shares with previous projects and missing huge potential for knowledge sharing. Looking at developing and emerging countries the assessment is even bleaker where the construction is heavily reliant on low-skilled labour, and protection of resources and the environment is inadequate.
Building on his abundant experience in manufacturing very large scale non-electric chillers Zhang Yue, chief executive and chairman of Broad Group, established Broad Sustainable Building (BSB) to revolutionize the construction process of buildings by applying manufacturing industry processes and principles.
Pre-fabrication makes the construction process “as easy as playing with Lego”
Central to its technology are two massive components that are prefabricated in large production lines – steel-frame floor plates and structural steel columns. Moving 90% of the construction process to the factory, the columns are erected and the pre-fitted plates (incl. piping, wiring and flooring) simply put in position – making the construction process “as easy as playing with Lego”.
The results are impressive: Speed of construction is especially impressive as construction for its 57-storey high-rise building took only 19 days. Construction costs can be reduced by 20-40% compared to traditional in-situ construction and quality is improved as the quality-controlled buildings are tested to withstand magnitude 9.0 earthquakes. In terms of environmental impact, BSB buildings have thermally insulated walls 15-30cm thick, triple or quadruple-glazed windows, fresh air heat recovery, solar shading as well as energy efficient air conditioning. It is not surprising that the time-lapse videos of its fist construction projects made international headlines and received millions of clicks on YouTube.
As any other type of revolution, BSB had to overcome a number of barriers, namely skepticism from architects, designers and potential clients, lax environmental regulation and lacking standards for pre-fabricated buildings.
We have visited BSB and its charismatic Chairman Zhang to better understand what the E&C industry can learn from their journey. Download the case study to read their full story.