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The ABCs of Prefabrication in Healthcare Construction

When conceptualizing your next healthcare facility project, if someone told you they had a solution to maximize efficiency, increase safety and save on cost and schedule from the start, would that seem too good to be true? The fact is, prefabrication has the potential to impact each of these project areas. It’s a multifaceted process that requires planning and partnership from the beginning stages of design to maximize benefits. Below are some key advantages of utilizing prefabrication:

A – Affordability
When it comes to prefabrication there are savings opportunities throughout a project’s lifecycle. Prefabrication is an intelligent building solution that increases safety and quality, reduces the cost of labor and positively impacts speed to market. “From a planning perspective, with the challenge of lowering capitol cost, we need to fundamentally change the way we deliver projects,” says Anthony Bango, Vice President of Project Planning for Christman. “Multi-trade prefabrication and modularization is going to be the way we change our industry.” Owners can expect a shorter construction schedule when prefabrication is employed, which means that patients are able to be seen sooner and regular operations can resume earlier. Prefabrication also positively shifts the impacts of the labor shortage being felt across the construction industry. The benefits of working at an off-site facility, which is weather and temperature controlled, directly improves the quality of the work and worker safety. These added benefits can attract more engaged laborers and reduces insurance costs. 

B – Buy-in
Assembling a project team that embodies a culture of innovation is key to the prefabrication process. On the McLaren Greater Lansing Replacement Hospital project, a $450 million ground-up facility currently under construction, a laser focus on constructing the most efficient project possible was a team goal from the beginning. “Everyone was ready to try something new,” says Adam Duncan, a Project Manager on the facility. “The yes’s outweighed the no’s and we had the right team come together to make this project a success.” The utilization of prefabrication on a project of this scale was one of the first in Michigan, but it certainly will not be the last. “It’s just a matter of time and adoption,” adds Bango.

C – Collaboration
This type of modular construction is well-suited for a design/build project, where multiple disciplines have equal say in the decision-making process. When the entire team is involved prior to the construction document (CD) stage, prefabrication can be planned and executed to improve the buildings’ overall functionality. On the McLaren project, collaboration between the owner, the owner’s representative, the joint venture construction partners, architect and major MEP subcontractors led to the creation of a master prefabrication execution plan. This is a living document used to keep the project teams on track and to document their process. So far, the projections of final outcomes to the project influenced by the collaborative prefabrication process are resoundingly positive. For example, over 2.5 months have been saved on schedule and the overall project cost has been reduced by over $7 million. 

Check out this process in action at the McLaren Greater Lansing Replacement Hospital project in Lansing, MI. 

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John M. O'Toole, LEED AP
As principal in charge of Christman's healthcare services, John brings to his role extensive experience and knowledge in healthcare facilities programming, with a focus on creating facilities solutions centered on clients' strategic business goals. Prior to joining Christman in 2003 as healthcare services director, John worked for 15 years as director of operations for Centex Rodgers, Inc., where his responsibilities focused exclusively on healthcare pre-construction and construction services delivery. Read more...