4 Key Shifts which are Driving the Adoption DfMA throughout the Construction Industry

Design for Manufacture and Assembly (DfMA) is how innovators will rise to meet unprecedented construction industry challenges. Owner-operators, urban planners, architects, engineers and building product manufacturers are cultivating a clear competitive advantage through DfMA methods.

Design for Manufacture and Assembly (DfMA) is how innovators will rise to meet unprecedented construction industry challenges. Owner-operators, urban planners, architects, engineers and building product manufacturers are cultivating a clear competitive advantage through DfMA methods.

The 4 fundamental shifts enabling DfMA to take hold in construction are:

  1. From off-site construction to automated manufacturing
  2. From trade-based installations to modularized assemblies
  3. From static design data to continuous integration
  4. From customization to configuration

By continuously integrating data to enable automated configuration and by reengineering components for streamlined assembly, DfMA opens possibilities for addressing the skilled labour shortage, delivering data-driven designs informed by manufacturing and process intelligence, and rapidly bringing new projects online. The 3DEXPERIENCE platform has proven to support these strategic transformations in other contexts and now—in the hands of progressive construction industry leaders—is actively propelling the success of DfMA for construction.

DfMA throughout the Construction Industry

DfMA throughout the Construction Industry

A deeper look into the four key shifts which are fostering the adoption of DfMA in construction…

1- From Off-Site Construction to Automated Manufacturing

Off-site prefabrication of construction systems is an outcome of AEC culture changes over previous decades. It’s an approach that provides significant benefits over on-site construction. By working in a controlled environment, contractors can improve product quality and generate improvements in worker safety as well as logistics, by providing near-site storage.

Off-site construction is necessary, however, it’s not a complete solution to the challenges plaguing project teams today. Simply bringing indoors a collection of parts that must be assembled by siloed disciplines doesn’t transform the building construction process to the degree necessary to address today’s challenges. The next step-function improvement to prefabrication is automation, achieving industrialised construction.

Automated manufacturing practices drive new levels of efficiency in construction. Through automation, contractors realise higher levels of efficiency and quality through controlled process improvements and labour reductions. Factories are vastly more capable of system and component traceability through certification. Manufacturers can provide more quality assurance through controlled variables and inspections than even the most skilled human labourers.

2 – From Trade-Based Installations to Modular Assemblies

With any off-site construction approach, large physical assets must be somehow dissected into smaller assets to be transported to the site. However, simply carving up a structure by volumetric space does not equate to modularisation. True modularization demands that systems be reengineered to streamline the assembly process. It’s about redesigning an asset as a set of components that can be preassembled in a factory and interface fluently.

“You don’t call an electrician to plug your coffee maker into the wall. The interface between components— the appliance and the power source—has been reduced to prongs in an outlet. This can be done for many things in construction. If we rethink the interfaces between the components, anyone could connect the modules.” 

— Pierre Guehenneux, Vice President of R&D, Construction, Cities & Territories, Dassault Systèmes

Using modular assemblies, contractors can both accelerate the project timeline and democratize the assembly process so that it can be performed by any population, including unskilled, undereducated, inexperienced and disabled workers.

The reduction and simplification of interfaces between components have the power to drastically reduce the need for skilled labour off-site and on-site. This shift frees up increasingly scarce and costly tradespeople to be redeployed where they provide more value—at a system level.

Plus, municipalities with a need for higher employment rates are eager to grant building permits to development teams that can tap local labour pools. Project stakeholders who demonstrate to officials that they can employ local populations may gain incentives in addition to resolving workforce challenges.

3 – From static design data to continuous integration

Modelling tools have benefited from digital transformation trends. Still, if a building model exists independently on its platform and without dynamic access to manufacturing, assembly and project management data, it remains extremely limited in its potential to support design automation and reduce repetitive tasks.

Such siloed data requires periodic synchronization that creates friction in the design process, redundancy and reworks. The more tools in use, the more friction occurs whenever data is exported, imported and reconciled.

Alternatively, an integrated model-based design—centralised on a shared platform and continuously current—supports a designer’s ability to leverage design automation for exploring exponentially more solutions, feeding it with performance and process simulation data, and embedding the design with manufacturing intelligence.

4 – From customisation to configuration

A design configuration approach entails setting up an interface for designers to select combinations of pre-defined, standardized options. The configurator then automatically generates detailed manufacturing and assembly instructions. Configurability is made possible through data-driven design automation, which requires continuous integration and simulation capabilities as described above.

In truth, configurability is a more scalable business model than bespoke design services. Rather than designing one-off prototypes, designers can develop extensible building delivery platforms. Instead of engineering every project to order, stakeholders can configure existing components to meet project requirements.

There’s a misconception that configuration leads to limited design creativity. In truth, DfMA begins to meet the growing demand for mass customisation. Through configurability, these processes open the door to massive variation and flexibility.

The Right Tools for the Job – The 3DEXPERIENCE Platform Supports DfMA for Construction

Such transitions toward automated manufacturing, modular assemblies, continuous integration and configurability are quite familiar to Dassault Systèmes.

The 3DEXPERIENCE platform and the range of solutions available on it have guided similar tectonic shifts in other industries including aerospace, shipbuilding, industrial equipment, consumer products, and automotive manufacturing. Users have vastly improved quality, efficiency, safety, and profitability in a range of complex, multidiscipline environments.

Only the 3DEXPERIENCE platform can deliver the critical components—continuous integration with process simulation, model data-enabling design automation, and modularised component configurators—that are dependencies of DfMA for construction.

Would you like to learn more about DfMA or how the 3DEXPERIENCE Platform can support your Digital Transformation? Get in touch with our team today.

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