The speed and efficiency advantages of modular construction were on full display in 2020, as manufacturers stepped up en masse to help combat the novel coronavirus pandemic.
Several manufacturers reported pumping out rapid response medical facilities that were deployed as auxiliary hospitals in a matter of weeks during the early phases of the crises. Manufacturers such as Quebec, Canada-based RCM Modular and Appleton, Wisconsin-based Boldt Co. erected fully operational field units in less than a month from order to completion for healthcare clients.
The benefits of operating in the controlled environment of a factory also stood out, as workers were more easily screened through single points of entry and could maintain social distance at tailored work stations along the assembly line.
But the persistent challenges to adopting modular construction practices at a larger scale in the commercial construction industry have also been apparent so far this year.
After the initial rush of orders for rapid response medical facilities at the onset of COVID-19, many plans for permanent modular construction units — which are used in longer-term projects and provide higher margins for producers — fell victim to the broader uncertainty that settled over the larger construction landscape.
As bread-and-butter modular customers such as hotels and hospitals dealt with revenue crises, many modular manufacturers faced hard days. Nowhere was this more apparent than the recent shuttering of Chicago’s Skender Manufacturing, once looked at as a rising modular star.
For more insight on how modular fared on the frontlines of the pandemic in 2020, check out our roundup of the biggest trends in modular construction over the past 12 months.
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