Photo Credit: Modular Building Institute (MBI)

Modular buildings are used in all building sectors including housing, education, public and health and it’s popularity is due to reasons of safety, efficiency and costs. Many in the METALCON community are involved with providing the materials to builders, designers and sub-contractors in this part of the construction industry. Recently, modular buildings have been in high demand because of the COVID-19 pandemic. In their recent issue of their Modular Advantage magazine, Modular Building Institute (MBI) takes a deep look into the industry’s response and how modular companies worldwide rose (and rising) to the challenges and opportunities presented by the crisis.

The MBI formed in 1983 as the international non-profit trade association serving modular construction. Their members include manufacturers, contractors, and dealers in the permanent modular construction (PMC) and relocatable buildings (RB) sectors.

According to SteelConstruction.Info (a UK based steel construction encyclopedia), they define “Modular construction” as the use of factory-produced pre-engineered building units that are delivered to site and assembled as large volumetric components or as substantial elements of a building. The modular units may form complete rooms, parts of rooms, or separate highly serviced units such as toilets or lifts. The collection of discrete modular units usually forms a self-supporting structure in its own right or, for tall buildings, may rely on an independent structural framework.

The American Institute of Steel Construction (AISC) says modular construction practices paired with steel’s advanced prefabrication capabilities can help shorten construction schedules.

Rapid construction has been a hallmark of structural steel for decades, due in large part to the advantages of off-site fabrication. Structural steel fabricators complete the majority of their work in a fabrication shop using sophisticated equipment to produce accurate and repeatable results. Compared to all other framing materials, structural steel has a long history of maximizing the benefits of prefabrication. The current trend of modularizing major building components accentuates those benefits and helps increase efficiency in the construction process. Involving steel fabricators and their building information modeling (BIM) capabilities early in the module design process has increased construction productivity in several projects. (AISC)

Modular Attributes (SteelConstruction.Info)

The benefits of modular construction, relative to more traditional methods, include: 

  • Economy of scale through repetitive manufacture
  • Rapid installation on site (6-8 units per day)
  • High level of quality control in factory production
  • Low selfweight leading to foundation savings
  • Suitable for projects with site constraints and where methods of working require more off-site manufacture
  • Limited disruption in the vicinity of the construction site
  • Useful in building renovation projects, such as roof top extensions
  • Excellent acoustic insulation due to double layer construction
  • Adaptable for future extensions, and ability to be dismantled easily and moved if required
  • Robustness can be achieved by attaching the units together at their corners
  • Stability of tall buildings can be provided by a braced steel core.


Come meet some of the companies that work in modular construction that will be exhibiting at METALCON 2020 scheduled for October 21-23 in Las Vegas. REGISTER today and get regularly show updates by subscribing to our METALCONnection newsletter.

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