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Current State of Using Prefabricated Construction in Australia

Civil and Infrastructure Discipline, School of Engineering, RMIT University, Melbourne, VIC 3001, Australia
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Buildings 2022, 12(9), 1355;
Submission received: 8 July 2022 / Revised: 24 August 2022 / Accepted: 29 August 2022 / Published: 1 September 2022


The Australian prefabricated construction market has been developing rapidly in recent years. New prefabrication-related technologies, materials, systems and services are also emerging in the current Australian market. Although some studies have been undertaken to explore the benefits and challenges of implementing prefabrication in Australia over the past 15 years, they do not reflect the recent changes in the industry. Therefore, this study aims to fill this gap and identify the major changes in the current Australian prefabricated construction industry from industrial perceptions. Through literature reviews and industry interviews, factors reflecting major changes in the current Australian prefabricated construction, including prefabrication industry development, emerging benefits and challenges, were identified and discussed in this study. The challenges identified from interviews were classified into eight aspects related to feasibility, design, manufacturing, transportation, on-site construction, standardisation, skills and knowledge, finance and market. Furthermore, 21 recommendations and related key responsible parties were identified to tackle these challenges. The findings will provide useful references for various stakeholders to have a better understanding of the current prefabrication industry development in the Australian context and re-think how to adapt to future changes for the uptake of prefabricated construction in Australia.

1. Introduction

Globally, the prefabricated construction market is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 7.1% from 2020 to 2026 and will reach USD 174 billion by 2026 [1]. The rise in the popularity of prefabrication is due largely to its ability to reduce overall construction times [2]. It is also acknowledged as being high-quality [3] and eco-friendly [4,5], to list only a few advantages. In addition, prefabrication is recognised as having potential to overcome the housing shortage as a result of population growth and trends in household formation [6], and to address the shortage of skilled labourers in the coming years [7]. Prefabrication also makes it easier to adhere to social distancing and COVID-19 safe working guidance [8].
Over the last few years, the potential benefits and future uptake of prefabricated construction have been recognised by the Australian construction industry and clients, which has resulted in a significant expansion in interest and in its use [9,10,11]. Australian prefabricated construction has extended beyond single housing developments to schools, hospitals, train stations, sports buildings, healthcare facilities and community centres and the commercial building market [10]. In terms of the market size, prefabrication represents 5% of Australia’s current AUD 150 billion construction industry nowadays, and it is expected to grow from the current 5% to 15% in 2025 [12]. A compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of around 7.5% is expected in the Australian prefabrication market from 2016 to 2026. As the main body in Australia’s off-site construction industry and the hub for building prefabrication technology and design, prefabAUS predicts that 10% of Australian homes will be prefabricated by 2030 [9]. Furthermore, new prefabrication-related technologies, materials, systems and related services have emerged in the Australian prefabrication industry in recent years. Prefabrication comes in many shapes and sizes, from small components, to two-dimensional panels, three-dimensional volumes, a hybrid of different systems or a complete building, and can be made up of different materials, from timber, to concrete, metal, plastic or a combination [13]. More companies are entering into the prefabrication market and some are becoming leaders in prefabrication, such as the Hickory Group and Prebuilt.
Relevant previous Australian studies have been performed to examine prefabricated construction in the Australian context by seeking insights from industry professionals [14,15,16,17,18]. The key challenges to implement prefabricated construction identified by these studies include the industry and market culture, perceived higher project costs, lack of adequate skills and knowledge, the immense changes to existing construction processes and non-traditional designs. However, these studies were conducted at least 4 years ago. The number of interviewees for most of these previous studies is very limited, and the occupation types of interviewees are inadequate. In terms of the results, the new changes in the Australian prefabrication industry are not reflected in the existing studies. Some challenges identified by these previous studies, such as higher perceived costs, the immense changes to existing construction processes and non-traditional designs, have been largely solved or improved by the current Australian prefabrication industry. Besides the above, new benefits, such as creating opportunities for auto manufacturing employees, traditional contract types and the availability of lifting equipment, are perceived in the current prefabrication industry, but are barely mentioned in previous relevant studies.
Therefore, there is a strong need for up-to-date research to comprehensively investigate the industrial perspectives, especially those of the leaders, on the implementation of prefabrication in the Australian context. This will help both industry and academia to develop an updated understanding of current industry development and be prepared for future changes. To fill these gaps and achieve these goals, this study conducted in-depth interviews with experienced Australian industry professionals.
The rest of this paper is structured as follows. The literature review section reviews the previous research on prefabrication with a focus on the benefits and challenges. The methodology section introduces the research methods used in this study. The data analysis section includes cluster analysis and factor analysis. Current industry developments and major changes, and the industry’s perspective on the benefits and challenges of prefabrication, are discussed. Furthermore, recommendations to address these challenges are proposed and key responsible parties are also identified in the discussion section.

2. Methodology

The research method applied in this study combines both a literature review and industrial interviews. This study firstly conducted a literature review on prefabricated construction in both Australia and other countries. Literature reviews help us to understand the current development of prefabrication in Australia and the world. Based on the literature review, the benefits and challenges of adopting prefabrication, and research gaps in the existing literature, are also identified. To review the existing work on prefabrication, especially the benefits and challenges, the Scopus database was used in this study to identify mainstream journals with a certain number of publications on prefabricated construction. In addition, previous prefabrication review studies [19,20] offered valuable guidance to identify top journals and search strategies in this domain. As a result, Construction Management and Economics, Automation in Construction, the Journal of Management in Engineering, Engineering Structures, Energy and Buildings, the Journal of Construction Engineering and Management, Structures, the International Journal of Construction Management, the Journal of Cleaner Production, Engineering, Construction and Architectural Management and the Journal of Building Engineering and Construction Innovation were selected as major journals or source titles to search the related literature. Then, with the identified keywords related to prefabrication and its benefits and challenges, a search strategy was developed in Scopus as TITLE-ABS-KEY ((prefabrication OR “prefabricated construction” OR “precast concrete” OR “off-site construction” OR “modular construction”) AND (benefit* OR driver* OR motivation* OR challenge* OR constraint* OR limitation* OR risk* OR issue* OR impact*)). The search results were further refined by year (2002–2021), language (English), the above-mentioned source titles and document type (Article and Review). A total of 405 document results were initially found. The initial results were then screened one by one by the author to eliminate those not in the construction engineering and management field or not focusing on prefabricated construction management. Finally, a total of 130 published journal papers on the benefits and challenges of prefabrication were selected as the final search results for further analysis.
As there have been new developments and changes in the prefabrication industry in recent years, there is a need to further collect the industry’s perspectives on the current development of prefabrication in Australia. Therefore, the literature review results formed the basis for the semi-structured interview design. Then, semi-structured interviews were conducted to obtain an in-depth understanding of the Australian industry’s perceptions of prefabricated construction. The interview questions were structured in 3 main parts, including the basic information of interviewees and companies and their views on the current prefabrication industry development, the benefits and challenges of implementing prefabricated construction and recommendations to tackle these challenges. Since supply chain management is critical to improve the performance of prefabricated construction at an organisational level [21], therefore, this research planned to interview industry professionals from four types of companies in the supply chain of prefabricated buildings, which were consultants, manufacturers, suppliers and builders. The potential participants were required to have at least 5 years of industry experience in prefabricated construction in Australia and work at mid-level or senior-level management positions. Based on the selection criteria, the potential participants were identified by online searching, LinkedIn and personal networks.
Subsequently, an email invitation was sent to the potential participants, with the Participant Information and Consent Form attached, to invite them for an interview. After the potential participants accepted the invitation by signing the consent form and returning it to the researchers, the research team scheduled a time and location with them to conduct the interview. In total, 65 invitations were sent out and 21 industry professionals accepted the invitation. The interviews were conducted from October 2019 to April 2020; more than half of interviews were conducted by face to face, and some interviews were conducted by phone or online. The interviews were recorded by note taking and audio recording. Each interview ran for at least forty minutes and most interviews ran for one hour or above. Besides these, 4 visit opportunities to factories and 4 visit opportunities to construction sites were provided by interviewees during interviews.
A total of 21 valid interview responses were collected from 16 leading Australian prefabrication companies and Australian professional associations, which are shown in Table 1. These 21 interviewees included 4 prefabAUS Board of Directors members (out of 9), 2 chief engineers, 4 directors of prefabrication companies, 4 project or operational managers, 4 site engineers and 7 senior consultants. The prefabAUS Board of Directors deals with the governance and overall direction of prefabAUS. The categories of these 16 companies included consultants, manufacturers, suppliers and builders. These 16 companies play leading roles in the current Australian prefabrication industry, with business coverage in Australia and overseas. Seven of the 21 companies are prefabAUS company members. Besides this, some of these prefabrication companies’ supply chains involve multiple stakeholders in Australia and other countries. Therefore, to a large extent, these 16 companies can be considered as representatives of the prefabrication industry in Australia. The interview content in this study can largely reflect current industry practitioners’ views on prefabricated construction.

3. Results

3.1. Literature Review Results

3.1.1. Benefits of Prefabrication

Prefabrication has been considered as an efficient and sustainable solution for future construction [22]. Based on the review of the existing literature, 15 major benefits were identified, as shown in Table 2. These benefits of implementing prefabrication can be then summarised into six major aspects based on the existing literature and the research team’s interpretation, including schedule, environment, quality, cost, local issues and construction safety.
The schedule benefit is one of the most critical and common drivers for industry to adopt prefabrication [29,32]. Prefabrication has significant schedule advantages over traditional construction methods [34], as it allows on-site and off-site construction work to run simultaneously [33] and reduces weather delays [35]. Fabricators work in a more controlled environment with improved supervision of labour, easier access to tools and fewer material deliveries [32], which speeds up the construction program.
The benefits related to the environment include less emissions, energy savings, reducing on-site construction waste, reducing the use of materials, improving waste recyclability and reducing disruption to neighbourhoods. Compared with the traditional construction method, prefabrication has significant environmental benefits throughout a project’s lifecycle, including the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions [43], reduction of on-site construction waste [18] and reduction of material usage [27]. These reductions can enhance public health and can combat climate change, which is the fundamental goal suggested by the International Energy Agency (IEA) [63,64]. The in-factory manufacturing environment creates a lower rate of defects and re-work, and reduces waste generated during material handling, movement and storage on the construction site and material recycling processes [52]. Prefabrication also brings opportunities for more recyclable resources, such as mass timber [42]. Building components are manufactured and pre-assembled in the factory so that less noisy work is completed on site [28], which reduces the disruption to the community.
The quality benefit is another driver for industry to adopt prefabrication [29]. Prefabrication allows building pieces to be manufactured in a more controlled environment, which is under cover and away from the weather, by using an automatic process [17]. Better quality of products can be achieved due to the quality control methods adhered to within the manufacturing industry [34]. Furthermore, the computer-aided design and testing applied within prefabrication further reduces defects and re-work [39].
The cost benefits of prefabrication are justified mainly due to several general reasons. Firstly, prefabrication reduces on-site labour [17], which saves on-site labour costs. Secondly, cost savings can be achieved through the reduction of material use [55] and time-related costs. Time-related cost reductions include, but are not limited to, labour cost savings for site management, site sheds and crane, hoist and scaffolding hiring [35]. Thirdly, cost savings can be achieved as a result of the improved cost certainty [6] and reduced maintenance costs in prefabrication [55]. In some special cases, the production cost can be reduced due to remote or overseas manufacture [57].
The benefits for local issues include relieving housing demand pressure, addressing skills shortages and reducing foundation costs. The key drivers for selecting prefabrication in Australia include high labour costs and skilled labour shortages [17], especially in remote areas. Prefabrication can bring skilled trades in one location under a controlled work environment. Another issue is the increasing demand for affordable housing due to the rapid population growth in Australia’s major metropolitan cities. For example, the Western Australian government has outlined short-term goals of making an additional 30,000 affordable homes available in Perth [16]. Prefabrication has great potential to solve the above-mentioned issues in a sustainable way. Furthermore, prefabrication has its advantages in some special conditions. For example, reactive soil conditions in some remote areas in Western Australia lead to high foundation costs. This issue has been regularly overcome with the lightweight modular foundation systems [16].
Prefabrication can also improve off-site construction safety and reduce on-site safety hazards. Firstly, prefabrication shifts the on-site construction environment with high safety hazards to a lower-hazard environment [17] by improving safeguards, using safer and automated equipment [54] and reducing air quality hazards through engineered ventilation [53]. Secondly, prefabrication offers a large reduction in overall on-site working time so that on-site safety hazards can be reduced [17].

3.1.2. Challenges of Prefabrication

Despite the aforementioned benefits, prefabrication also brings challenges that need to be overcome. These include cost inefficiency [65], lack of standardisation [66] and lack of a skilled workforce [24]. By reviewing the literature, 26 major challenges were identified, as shown in Table 3. These challenges can be summarised into seven aspects based on the existing literature, such as the life cycle of prefabrication projects and the research team’s interpretation [14,67]. These aspects include finances and the market, skills and knowledge, standardisation, design, manufacturing, transportation and logistics and on-site construction.
The challenges related to finances and the market include cost inefficiency, market demand and job reductions, bankability and payment processes. For cost inefficiency, it is unlikely that the total cost of a single project will directly benefit from implementing the off-site technique alone due to several reasons [6]. Firstly, the wider supply chain or mass production is difficult to achieve in a single project. Secondly, the manufacturing cost cannot be reduced significantly because of the higher degree of customisation required. Thirdly, the higher initial costs related to design and tendering in prefabrication were also identified as major financial constraints [29]. In Australia, prefabrication has been mainly applied in residential projects, hotels, railway stations and educational buildings, and the current market size for prefabricated construction in Australia is still considerably small. As a result, the production cost of prefabricated components is relatively high, which results in high overall costs of prefabrication [24].
The challenges related to skills and knowledge include the lack of a skilled workforce and misconceptions. As the production, transportation and installation of prefabricated components are more complicated than traditional construction methods [68], prefabrication requires skilled construction workers, which present a shortage in the Australian construction workforce. Furthermore, there is a lack of adequate training on prefabrication [31], which further exacerbates this problem. Regarding misconceptions, many industry members and clients are still suspicious of the performance and quality of prefabrication [31], which hinders the wider adoption of prefabrication.
Lack of standardisation is another challenge. The current prefabrication design practice is largely based on the traditional building design standard, even though the structural loads might be very different in modular construction. Moreover, the on-site construction process, including assembly and quality assessment, is quite different from the traditional method [31]. Because of the lack of design guidelines for prefabricated buildings, prefabrication may fail to meet the expectations of the asset owners, who are likely to develop the perception that the prefabricated components do not meet the minimum standard requirements and do not have long-term performance [66]. Therefore, legal standards and codes of prefabrication need to be developed with regard to the whole process of prefabrication [70].
The challenges related to design include non-traditional design, intermodule connection design, long design times, architecture aesthetics, fire resistance of modules and inflexibility for design changes. Different from traditional design, design for manufacturing and assembly (DfMA) is required in prefabricated construction [79], which increases the difficulties and workloads for designers and lengthens the design period. Regarding intermodule connection design, the conventional intermodule connections mainly use direct plates and connect them with bolts, which can be problematic for the inner connecting regions [89]. Regarding building aesthetics, the standardisation of prefabricated components may lead to the similarity of buildings’ appearances, and monotonous and repetitive design [65]. Steel modular construction may also have fire resistance issues depending on the construction system [96]. Furthermore, lack of design flexibility is also a limitation when using prefabrication [27] because late design modifications often incur significant extra costs.
The challenges related to manufacturing include production planning and a lack of adoption of automated production systems. For the production planning in prefabrication, many studies have proposed systems, models and algorithms, mainly for solving the flow-shop scheduling problems in factories, such as the distributed permutation flow-shop scheduling problem (DPFSP) [95] and no-wait flow-shop scheduling problem (DNFSP) [92]. Automated production systems, such as automatic wall systems and automatic floor systems, have the potential to provide numerous advantages to the construction industry. However, the level of adoption is still very low because of the high initial capital investment, low budget, current work culture and other reasons [99].
The challenges related to transportation include increased transportation and logistics restrictions, ineffective information sharing and traceability, product verification, protection during transportation, surface protection and moisture control. Increased transportation and logistics restrictions include the module’s dimensional constraints, traffic control requirements when transporting heavy and bulky products in high-density populated areas and maximum limits of distance for transportation [75]. Ineffective information sharing and traceability due to the adoption of traditional methods of communication cause difficulties in logistic management [58]. To achieve real-time information sharing and traceability in prefabricated construction, many studies have proposed an Internet of Things (IoT)-enabled platform [58,85]. During transportation, vibrations of vehicles may cause damage to prefabricated components, and the intensity of damage increases with the roughness of the road surface [78]. Therefore, necessary protection during transportation should be considered at the early stage of a project.
The challenges related to on-site construction include site access, lifting safety, installation safety and quality inspections required. In Australia, there were, in total, 150 worker fatalities reported in the construction industry from 2015 to 2019 [104]. The major safety concern in prefabrication is the installation safety, because most accidents occur due to oversized and overweight component lifting [6]. Limited site access [70], inefficient product verification due to ambiguous labels [80] and slow quality inspection procedures due to the increased number of connections [96] are also identified to affect the schedule performance of prefabricated construction.
Based on the literature review on the benefits and challenges of implementing prefabricated construction, the most commonly applied research methods in these previous studies were case studies, literature reviews, interviews and surveys. Case studies were applied to measure the benefits and challenges of using prefabrication quantitatively [6,43]. Literature reviews were generally applied to identify research gaps on this topic, to identify the benefits and challenges of prefabrication qualitatively and to identify solutions for tackling these challenges [69,102]. Interviews were generally applied to collect in-depth information regarding prefabrication [16,27]. Survey questionnaires were generally applied to rank the challenges of prefabrication [27,68]. This research aims to identify the major changes in the current Australian prefabricated construction industry, including prefabrication industry developments, benefits and challenges of implementing prefabricated construction and recommendations for tackling them. To achieve these objectives, interviews were selected as the other research approach in this study. This is because interviews are especially useful when detailed or lengthy information is planned to be collected, or follow-up questions may be asked based on interviewees’ responses. Moreover, interview questions are usually open-ended, which helps to collect in-depth information.

3.2. Interview Results and Analysis

The collected interview data were processed and analysed by using NVivo Pro 12. NVivo Pro 12 can organise, store and analyse data from more sources, and can analyse data with coding functions and advanced management functions. Therefore, NVivo Pro 12 was selected as the data analysis software in this study to obtain the industry insights [105]. The collected raw interview data in handwritten form were transferred into a Word document and imported into NVivo Pro 12 for content analysis, so that the useful information could be extracted from interview data. By using the coding function in NVivo, 50 interview factors were extracted from the interview data by the authors, as shown in Table 4. These interview factors can be grouped into three categories, including current industry development (10 factors), benefits (17 factors) and challenges (23 factors).
Furthermore, cluster analysis in NVivo was used to assess and group sources or nodes that share similar words. The sources or nodes clustered together in the cluster analysis diagram have higher similarity based on the occurrence and frequency of similar words. Sources or nodes with lower similarity are far apart. The size of each node indicates the number of words included in the text of the node. By selecting all interview content related to 23 challenges and selecting those clustered by word similarity and Pearson correlation coefficient, the key clusters were then generated through the cluster analysis function in NVivo Pro 12. The content in the interview files was grouped into eight clusters and presented in different colours, as shown in Figure 1. The words representing each cluster are identified as “design”, “construction”, “lifting”, “challenges”, “systems”, “material”, “quality” and “knowledge”, respectively. These words are considered as a reference for the classification of the 23 challenges in Section 4.2.

4. Discussion

4.1. Current Industry Development and Major Changes

By analysing the interview content, ten development factors are identified, as in Table 4, that reflect the current industry development for prefabricated construction. This section aims to briefly introduce how prefabricated construction has been developed in Australia in recent years by discussing these development factors. These development factors can be categorised into the following four aspects: prefabrication design, prefabrication types, prefabrication management and prefabrication guidelines.
In terms of design, many leading prefabrication companies have developed their own design process, design philosophy, connection system and acoustic consulting service to ensure building aesthetics, fabrication, constructability and serviceability of prefabricated projects. For the in-house digital design process and design optimisation process, architects and façade engineers are involved at the early design stage, which is key to ensure building aesthetics. During design, building information modelling (BIM) is used for design detail development and design coordination with builders and manufacturers, to ensure constructability and design for fabrication. The Peppers Kings Square Hotel [106] in Perth, Australia is a typical example. In this project, the Hickory patented façade system was built precisely to streamline panel sizes to window locations without compromising the aesthetics of building. Furthermore, the design philosophy can be used to generalise the building design by considering the manufacturing capability of most plants, constructability of most builders, transportation capability, logistics and other factors, to ensure that the provided design can be put in to practice with minimal risks. The Melbourne Quarter Tower Project [107], a 34-story building, is a good example to elaborate this design philosophy. The very curvy roof design, the height of this building and the complex working environment brought construction safety issues and other challenges to traditional construction methods. The consulting company redesigned the roof and provided the builder with three alternative prefabricated design options, based on their constructability and manufacturing capability. Compared with the traditional design, the implemented prefabrication design was not only safer but also more economical due to material usage reduction (around 60% steel tonnage reduction as per comment from one interviewee).
For prefabrication types, some leading prefabrication companies are applying volumetric systems in building projects. They might be structural elements, architectural elements or service elements. One typical example of a volumetric system is bathroom pods. Some leading companies are also applying hybrid prefabrication systems, which are three-dimensional systems combined with other units or systems [108]. A typical example of a hybrid system is the Hickory Building Systems (HBS), as shown in Figure 2, which is a patented building technology. Both systems are increasingly demonstrating their ability to reach multi-level [109]. Furthermore, mass timber construction is typically used in applications as a substitute for concrete and steel, and some Australian companies have used mass timber for public buildings and residential housing construction [110].
Regarding prefabrication management, supply chain integration management has been applied and proven to be key to the success of prefabricated construction where multiple parties are involved. Supply chain management covers material flow, informative flow and capital flow, and requires more negotiation skills, industry experience and knowledge of manufacturing, transportation and assembly [72]. Therefore, successful supply chain management in prefabricated construction requires all stakeholders to be familiar with the capabilities of one another and requires effective communication between them. New information and communications technology (ICT) can help to improve supply chain management through real-time communication, tracking and monitoring [4,86].
Regarding prefabrication guidelines, a modular handbook was developed by Monash University in 2017 to provide guidance to the industry on the design and construction of modular structures, by serving as a platform for the sharing of experience and knowledge advances [111]. This handbook aims to promote best practices and boost confidence among all stakeholders, from designers through to financiers. However, this modular handbook is not intended to have any legal status and focuses on the design of modular structures. Therefore, more detailed standards are required regarding manufacturing, lifting, on-site installation and building inspection.
With more industry practice, more new technologies, materials and design developments in the Australian prefabrication industry in recent years, the industry’s perspective on prefabrication is also changing. For example, the immense changes to existing construction processes is not considered a major barrier to prefabrication. Industry practitioners have been adapting to the new prefabricated construction processes in recent years. According to the interviews, at the beginning, labourers can become familiar with the prefabricated construction within only a few months, and the entire process proceeds faster. Furthermore, the “non-traditional design” is not considered a challenge by the industry because many leading prefabrication companies have been changing their design philosophies, such as DfMA, collaboration at the design stage and design innovation. Recent design innovations in prefabrication projects have boosted the industry’s confidence in prefabrication projects. Another change is that cost efficiency can be achieved in more and more prefabrication projects, even though cost inefficiency is still considered a challenge by some researchers and industry practitioners. The reason for the contradictory views is that the overall cost efficiency of prefabricated projects changes from case to case and depends on many project-specific factors. In general, the many benefits associated with prefabricated construction, such as shorter schedules, increased coordination, reduced on-site labour, the use of lightweight prefabricated materials and less material waste and re-work, will improve cost efficiency. However, at the current stage, cost inefficiency still occurs on some prefabrication projects due to small economies of scale, low repeatability and capability inconsistencies between companies.

4.2. Industry’s Perspectives on the Benefits and Challenges of Prefabrication

Most benefits mentioned by academia are also endorsed by the industry, as shown in Table 5. These common benefits are strongly influencing the construction industry in Australia. Therefore, policymakers, developers and potential investors should fully realise and understand how these factors can benefit projects. Practitioners and researchers can collaborate to quantify these benefits and to investigate how to utilise these benefits to promote prefabricated construction.
With the exception of the common benefits, there are two new benefits proposed by the industry but not mentioned in the previous literature. These are B16—create opportunities for auto manufacturing employees and B17—fewer truck deliveries and reduced street congestion. Prefabrication can create many job opportunities for workers, which is a strong focus of the government following the closure of several automotive manufacturing companies in the last two decades in Australia. Prefab manufacturers need a significant number of workers with automation knowledge and skills to meet the demand of prefabricated construction. Automotive manufacturing workers have advanced transferable skills in automation, which can be applied directly into the prefabrication industry. Relevant transition has been achieved in Australia. For example, the Hickory Group, one of Australia’s leading construction companies, is taking on former automotive workers to build its capabilities into the future prefabricated modular construction, following the shutdown of automotive manufacturers such as Toyota and Holden in Australia [112].
Prefabrication can ease street congestion, because prefabricated components are made in factories instead of being cast in situ. This can reduce concrete truck deliveries significantly and reduce deliveries for formwork and other building components such as steel rebars. This can also save massive on-site space for material storage. Besides the above, modules integrating structural, architectural and service elements can save even more deliveries because these modules are delivered to the construction site as only one modular product, instead of multiple building elements. Furthermore, these integrated modules are delivered to sites mostly at night, to avoid major traffic disruptions.
For the challenges of using prefabrication, more than half of the challenges mentioned by academia are also endorsed by the industry, as shown in Table 5. With the exception of the common challenges, there are new challenges proposed by the industry but not mentioned in the previous literature. These include C27—availability of lifting equipment, C28—contract type, C29—capability inconsistencies between companies, C30—lifting delay, C31—knowledge on cost analysis and C32—finish inconsistency of products. These challenges were identified in the industry interviews, reflecting recent changes in the Australian prefabrication industry.
The new challenges C27—availability of lifting equipment and C30—lifting delay are related to on-site lifting. Prefabrication makes loads oversized and overweight. Therefore, more lifting and rigging equipment is required to be available and serviceable to achieve the lifting of these prefabricated loads, which is different from traditional construction methods. These may include, but are not limited to, spreader frames, lifting beams, lifting inserts, chains, slings, lifting anchors, lifting clutches and lifting plates. This increases the workload and difficulty for site workers to manage the resources. Another new and critical issue is the lifting delay, which may be caused by a few factors. The lifting of prefabricated items has higher requirements regarding weather conditions, which sometimes means that the lifting work needs to be postponed until the weather condition is satisfactory. Another reason is the poor quality of prefabricated items. When the prefabricated items are transported to the construction site, the builder may find that some prefabricated items have defects, such as cracking. In this case, another prefabricated item should be ordered from the factory, which can cause lifting delays. Moreover, the transportation of prefabricated items may fail to follow the delivery schedule, which can also cause a lifting delay.
In terms of the knowledge of cost analysis, there is insufficient knowledge in terms of comparing the prefabrication cost with traditional construction costs. This lack of information brings uncertainties to the investors for adopting prefabrication in building projects, since cost estimations and cost comparisons are their major considerations. Furthermore, the finish inconsistency of products occurs, especially for lightweight, recycled and low-carbon concrete. Cracking may happen on the surfaces of some precast concrete panels, which results in remanufacturing. This affects the final delivery of products and may cause project delays and additional costs. In addition, according to the interviews, traditional design–bid–build contract types do not align with or are not suitable for the prefabrication model, and the capabilities between prefabrication companies are highly inconsistent in the current prefabrication industry.
Based on the existing literature, such as [14,67], the cluster analysis results, interview results and the life cycle of prefabrication projects, the major challenges identified can be grouped into eight aspects, as shown in Table 6. The life cycle of prefabrication projects considered in this study includes the procurement stage, design stage, manufacturing stage, transportation and logistics stage and on-site construction stage. The industry’s perspectives on the challenges of using prefabrication are also summarised in Table 6, and relevant recommendations to overcome those challenges are also proposed. Table 6 provides a valuable reference for all parties in the Australian prefabrication supply chain, to update their knowledge or understanding of the challenges in using prefabrication and their corresponding recommendations.

4.3. Recommendations and Key Responsible Parties

4.3.1. Recommendations

To tackle the above-mentioned challenges, relevant recommendations for each challenge category are summarised based on the analysis of previous studies, industry interview results and local context. A total of 21 recommendations are identified, as shown in Table 6. Regarding design, one challenge is inflexibility for design changes, and the recommendation for this challenge is to involve clients, building professionals and manufacturers at the early design stage. This solution can not only reduce later design changes but also ensure building aesthetics and design for fabrication. For fire, thermal and acoustics testing, only limited testing results on the performance of prefabricated materials are open-source. Therefore, these testing results on the performance of prefabricated materials should be made available in related standards so that design engineers can use them in prefabricated building design.
Regarding procurement and contracts, the specific payment process for prefabricated projects is not standardised or certain. Title transfer details and ownership are not clear during the prefabricated construction process. To manage these payment risks, contractors need to clearly provide more details on the payment terms in prefabricated construction contracts. These details should include milestone payments, adequate payment mechanisms and the courts’ decision [113]. The traditional contract type does not support the early involvement of multiple parties in prefabrication projects. To tackle this shortcoming, new construction procurement methods such as strategic partnering have been suggested [114,115] for use in prefabrication projects to achieve adequate planning.
Regarding manufacturing, the customer requests for the automatic production lines of light-gauge steel and concrete are very limited. Therefore, attending more industry events, such as prefabAUS networking events and trade shows, is recommended to promote these automated production systems. To improve the finish consistency of prefabricated products, many studies suggest to improve the knowledge and usage of basic quality control tools [116,117]. These tools include check sheets, flow charts and histograms. Besides these, graphical user interfaces for concrete production are also found to be useful to improve the production quality of precast concrete [118].
Prefabricated construction faces more transportation and logistics challenges due to oversized prefabricated components. Therefore, transportation and logistics problems should be discussed at the early design stage, with the involvement of multiple stakeholders. New technologies will provide possible solutions for transportation problems. The application of ICT, such as cloud technologies, Internet of Things (IoT), BIM and virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR), has been proven to be effective to improve information exchange, reduce uncertainties during logistics and therefore improve the schedule performance of prefabricated construction [4,58,74,85,119,120,121]. However, there are also challenges affecting the adoption of ICT in the Australian prefabricated construction field, such as the availability of appropriate training or pedagogical approaches to transfer and share the obtained knowledge and information techniques [120]. Besides this, the just-in-time (JIT) philosophy is recommended by many studies [122,123] to reduce the wasted time of truck drivers queuing on-site and to reduce environmental emissions due to shorter transportation times. Prefabricated components may be damaged during transportation. To tackle this, a clear transportation and logistics management plan should be formulated. The manufacturer should provide the transporter with detailed information on the shape and size of the prefabricated loads in advance, in order that the most appropriate method for stabilising and securing the load can be selected. Moreover, the driver should inspect the traffic management plan and relevant areas of the construction site under the direction of the site supervisor before transportation, to verify there are no risks [124].
For on-site construction, the installation inspection process is slow due to the increased number of connections in prefabrication. Therefore, building inspectors should be trained to become familiar with the various prefabrication systems and connections, which can speed up the building consent assessment process [125]. For site access, the just-in-time philosophy and early design collaboration are recommended to tackle this challenge so that prefabricated components can be delivered at the correct time, in the correct quantities and to the correct location [65]. Moreover, just-in-time (JIT) delivery is found to be effective to reduce lifting delays [122,123]. Adequate planning of lifting operations is critical to tackle the following challenges: C15—lifting safety and C25—availability of lifting equipment. During lifting design, lifting engineers need to make sure that the lifting point and lifting inserts can take the weight and the ground conditions are sufficient. Additionally, lifting engineers need to inspect the on-site lifting operation to ensure that all lifting personnel can understand and follow the designed lifting procedure. Builders need proper planning to ensure that all required lift gear is available and serviceable before lifting.
Many studies [42,66,68] have argued that the lack of standardisation brings significant challenges to the implementation of prefabrication. The Handbook for the Design of Modular Structures was developed as a result of a collaborative project by Monash University with industrial and university partners and with support from the Victorian Government. This handbook only provides general information for the design of modular structures. Therefore, developing an appropriate degree of standardisation in prefabrication processes is suggested. These processes include procurement, manufacturing and on-site installation and inspection. To achieve this, prefabricated construction associations can play a leading role in the standardisation of prefabrication, with collaboration between stakeholders. Besides this, more testing results on the fire, thermal and acoustics performance of prefabricated materials should be provided in related standards.
For skills and knowledge, there is a lack of a competent and experienced workforce in the current Australian prefabrication market. Therefore, both industry and academia [65,69,126] have recommended that universities and professional associations should provide prefabrication-related courses or training programs to upskill the future workforce and help former automotive manufacturing workers to transfer their skills. On-the-job training is also strongly recommended to upskill builders, designers, building surveyors and quantity surveyors [125]. Furthermore, industry workshops and conferences are useful to promote prefabrication knowledge sharing within the industry [65]. Exhibitions, offline and online events and media reports regarding prefabricated construction, such as success stories of prefabrication projects, can help to increase public awareness and change clients’ negative perceptions of prefabrication.
For finances and the market, more client-focused market research is needed to assess the demand for prefab and to better understand the challenges and value drivers of using prefab, as mentioned by Prefab NZ [125]. International trade tours and trade shows to potential export markets are also recommended [125]. Cost inefficiency is still a problem at the current stage. Therefore, there is still a need for the government’s financial and policy support of prefabrication companies. With respect to the bankability for prefabricated construction, financial institutions are often reluctant to provide financing for prefabricated projects because there is nothing on-site and there are still many uncertainties before completion. To increase their interest and willingness to provide loans, builders need to be registered and have a good, long track record and detailed construction plan. If upfront payment is requested before the building has arrived on-site, the builders can support it with some form of security, such as a performance bond. Besides this, communication with bankers at the early stage to enhance their knowledge of the prefabrication process and the applied prefabrication system is effective to reduce misconceptions. From a mid-term to long-term perspective, there is a need for new funding and financing models to fit the characteristics of prefabrication projects, which will serve to boost the uptake of prefabricated construction [127].

4.3.2. Key Responsible Parties

Stakeholder engagement is found to have a strong correlation with the challenges related to prefabricated construction and is critical to drive the adoption of prefabricated construction [128]. Based on the literature review and the above discussion, the key responsible parties for each recommendation were identified, as shown in Table 7. There are, in total, six key responsible parties, including government, industry associations, financial organisations, construction industry practitioners, education and training institutes and research and development institutes.
Engagement of the key responsible parties is important for the successful uptake of prefabricated construction in Australia. Government plays a leading role to promote prefabrication through policies, regulations and financial support. Prefabricated public housing could be a good start for its uptake. Industry associations can contribute to the development of relevant prefab standards by collaborating with industry members and academic researchers. To be more involved in prefabricated construction projects, financial organisations need to have a better understanding of the prefabrication industry through education and the outsourcing of expertise. To streamline the prefabrication process, construction industry practitioners such as designers, manufacturers, contractors and suppliers need to be involved at the early stages of prefab projects and collaborate to find optimum solutions to technical and management problems. Furthermore, education and training institutes should provide more prefab-related courses and training. Research and development institutes should lead the innovations and solve the existing problems in the prefabrication industry by collaborating with various parties.

5. Conclusions

With the increasing interest in prefabrication in recent years, the building sector in Australia has been making a significant shift to prefabricated construction, due largely to its ability to improve sustainability and productivity in construction. Moreover, prefabrication-related new technologies, materials, systems and services are changing the current Australian prefabrication market. Although previous studies have investigated the benefits and challenges of implementing prefabrication in Australia, they do not reflect recent changes in the industry. Based on a literature review and interview results, this study examined the current Australian prefabrication industry and the benefits and challenges of implementing prefabrication from industrial perspectives. The challenges identified from the industry interviews are further classified into eight aspects. To tackle these challenges, 21 recommended actions and six key responsible parties are proposed based on previous studies and the industry interview content.
This study provides a valuable reference for all parties in the prefabrication supply chain to update their knowledge of current industry developments in the Australian context. With the expected uptake of prefabrication, the findings will be useful for local industry and governments to develop roadmaps and policies in promoting prefabrication, and for practitioners such as manufacturers, contractors and consultants to reshape their competitive advantages and future strategies in the prefabrication market. The findings are also helpful references for prefabAUS to develop the future agenda for Australia’s prefabricated building industry. In addition, this study will contribute to enriching global researchers and professionals’ knowledge of current prefabrication development and future challenges in Australia, particularly those in the construction management domain, and inspiring them to rethink the future research directions and development of prefabricated construction due to the changing circumstances and emerging new technologies. With the recommendations identified in this study, future research could explore the implementation of these recommendations to tackle the new challenges, with particular attention to the adoption of digital technologies in prefabricated construction.

Author Contributions

Conceptualisation, Z.Z. and G.Z.; methodology, Z.Z. and G.Z.; software, Z.Z. and L.H.; validation, Y.T. and L.H.; formal analysis, Z.Z. and Y.T.; investigation, Z.Z. and G.Z.; resources, Z.Z.; data curation, Z.Z.; writing—original draft preparation, Z.Z.; writing—review and editing, G.Z. and Y.T.; visualisation, Z.Z. and L.H.; supervision, G.Z., L.S. and Y.T.; project administration, G.Z. and L.S. All authors have read and agreed to the published version of the manuscript.


This research received no external funding.

Institutional Review Board Statement

The study was conducted in accordance with the National Statement on Ethical Conduct in Human Research (NHMRC, 2007), and approved by the RMIT University CHEAN (Project number: 74-19/22404, Date: 17 October 2019).

Informed Consent Statement

Informed consent was obtained from all subjects involved in the study.

Data Availability Statement

Not applicable.


The authors thank all interviewees who participated in this research.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflict of interest.


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Figure 1. NVivo cluster analysis 3D diagram.
Figure 1. NVivo cluster analysis 3D diagram.
Buildings 12 01355 g001
Figure 2. Hickory Building Systems (Source: [66]).
Figure 2. Hickory Building Systems (Source: [66]).
Buildings 12 01355 g002
Table 1. Information sheet of interviewees.
Table 1. Information sheet of interviewees.
Interviewees Company Company CategoriesBusiness CoverageOccupation(s)Industry Experience on Prefabricated Construction
11Consultant 70+ countriesprefabAUS board member15 years or more
22Consultant AU, United Arab Emirates and EnglandSenior consultant10 to 15 years
33Consultant 40+ countriesSenior consultant 10 to 15 years
44Consultant All states in AUSenior consultant10 to 15 years
55ConsultantAll states in AUprefabAUS board member15 years or more
66Supplier AU and NZSenior consultant 5 to 10 years
77Manufacturer All states in AUOperation manager15 years or more
88Manufacturer All states in AUOperation manager15 years or more
99ManufacturerAll states in AUOperation manager10 to 15 years
10 10Consultant, manufacturer and builderAll states in AUChief engineer 15 years or more
1110Consultant, manufacturer and builder All states in AUProject manager10 to 15 years
1210Consultant, manufacturer and builderAll states in AUSite engineer 5 to 10 years
1310Consultant, manufacturer and builderAll states in AUSite engineer5 to 10 years
1411Consultant, manufacturer and builder All states in AUSenior consultant10 to 15 years
1512Consultant, manufacturer and builder VIC and NSWDirector10 to 15 years
16 13Consultant, manufacturer and builderAll states in AUprefabAUS board member10 to 15 years
1714Consultant, manufacturer, and builderAU and NZSenior consultant, prefabAUS board member10 to 15 years
1814Consultant, manufacturer and builderAU and NZSite engineer 5 to 10 years
1915Consultant manufacturer and builderAll states in AUSenior consultant10 to 15 years
2016Consultant, manufacturer and builder AU and NZChief engineer15 years or more
2116Consultant, manufacturer and builderAU and NZSite engineer 5 to 10 years
Note: AU—Australia, NZ—New Zealand, VIC—Victoria, NSW—New South Wales.
Table 2. Summary of previous research on the benefits of prefabrication.
Table 2. Summary of previous research on the benefits of prefabrication.
Benefits References No. of ReferencesResearch MethodsAspects
B1—Time saving [3,14,15,16,17,18,19,23,24,25,26,27,28,29,30,31,32,33,34,35,36]21CS, LR, I, SSchedule
B2—Better quality [3,14,15,16,17,18,19,23,27,28,29,31,34,37,38,39,40,41]18LR, I, SQuality
B3—Energy saving [5,14,15,30,31,42,43,44,45,46,47,48,49,50,51]15LR, CS, MSEnvironment
B4—Improved construction safety[14,15,17,18,19,27,31,38,43,52,53,54]12I, LR, CS, SConstruction safety
B5—General cost benefits [3,16,17,18,19,25,26,31,35,55] 10CS, LR, SCost
B6—Reduce on-site work and labour[3,14,16,17,19,24,27,28,30,43]10LR, CS, SCost
B7—Reduce on-site construction waste [17,18,19,27,30,31,38,43,56]9I, CS, LR, SEnvironment
B8—Addressing skills shortage[14,16,17,23,29]5S, I, CSLocal issues
B9—Lower production cost due to remote manufacture[57,58,59,60] 4I, LR, S, CSCost
B10—Less disruption to neighbours[19,23,28]3CS, LREnvironment
B11—Relief housing demand [16,30,61]3LRLocal issues
B12—Waste recyclability [54,62]2LREnvironment
B13—Material saving [27,52]2S, LREnvironment
B14—Lightweight of prefabricated materials [16,26]2ILocal issues
B15—Increase project certainty[6]1CSCost
Note: B—benefits, CS—case study, LR—literature review, I—interview, S—survey, MS—model simulation.
Table 3. Summary of previous research on the challenges of prefabrication.
Table 3. Summary of previous research on the challenges of prefabrication.
ChallengesReferences No. of ReferencesResearch Methods Aspects
C1—Cost inefficiency [6,14,15,16,18,23,24,27,29,31,65,68,69,70,71,72]16S, I, CS, LRFinance and market
C2—Lack of skilled workforce[14,15,19,24,28,31,52,67,68,70,71,73,74,75,76,77]16CS, LR, SSkills and knowledge
C3—Non-traditional design/DFMA/design information sharing [18,22,23,29,65,69,70,78,79,80]10CS, LR, I, MS, SDesign
C4—Lack of standardisation[22,31,42,52,66,68,70,71,76,77]10CS, LR, SStandardisation
C5—Increased transportation and logistics considerations/restrictions[18,24,52,67,69,70,71,81,82,83]10LR, S, CS Transportation and logistics
C6—Misconceptions [14,15,16,31,42,68,70]7LR, S Skills and knowledge
C7—Ineffective information sharing and traceability during transportation [58,60,69,72,84,85,86] 7LRTransportation and logistics
C8—Intermodule connection design[69,71,87,88,89] 5LRDesign
C9—Inflexible for design change[27,65,68,70,90] 5S, I, LRDesign
C10—Production planning [91,92,93,94,95] 5LRManufacturing
C11—Long design time [24,27,38,65] 4S, I, CS Design
C12—Architecture aesthetics[3,52,66] 3CS, LRDesign
C13—Market demand [24,31,70]3S, CS Finance and market
C14—Site access[65,68,70]3S, IOn-site construction
C15—Lifting safety [80,96,97]3MS, LR, SAOn-site construction
C16—Protection during transportation[52,70]2CS, LRTransportation and logistics
C17—Installation safety [97,98]2SA, S, IOn-site construction
C18—Compliance and inspection[80,96]2LR, MS On-site construction
C19—Lack of adoption for automated production system[96,99]2LRManufacturing
C20—Bankability[100,101]2CS, SFinance and market
C21—Moisture control [102,103]2LRTransportation and logistics
C22—Product verification[80]1MSOn-site construction
C23—Fire, thermal and acoustics testing[96]1LRDesign
C24—Job reduction [43]1CSFinance and market
C25—Payment process[6]1CSFinance and market
C26—Surface protection[102]1LRTransportation and logistics
Note: C—challenges, CS—case study, LR—literature review, I—interview, S—survey, MS—model simulation, SA—statistical analysis.
Table 4. Interview factors analysis.
Table 4. Interview factors analysis.
Current industry development D1—Digital design and design optimisation process
D2—Innovative connection design
D3—Innovative material (cross-laminated timber)
D4—Modular handbook
D5—Innovative building system
D6—Innovative design philosophy
D7—Innovative facade system
D8—Innovative prefabricated bathrooms
D9—Supply chain management
D10—Design for noise and vibration
BenefitsB1—Time saving
B7—Reduce on-site construction waste
B2—Better quality
B4—Improved construction safety
B3—Energy saving
B5—General cost benefits
B6—Reduce on-site work and labour
B10—Less disruption to neighbours
B12—Waste recyclability
B14—Light weight of prefabricated materials
B16—Create opportunities for auto manufacturing employees
B8—Addressing skills shortage
B11—Relieve housing demand
B13—Material saving
B9—Lower production costs due to remote manufacture
B17—Fewer truck deliveries and reduced street congestion
B15—Increase project certainty
ChallengesC2—Lack of skilled workforce
C4—Lack of standardisation
C15—Lifting safety
C1—Cost inefficiency
C5—Increased transportation and logistics considerations/restrictions
C9—Inflexible for design change
C14—Site access
C16—Protection during transportation
C19—Lack of adoption for automatic production systems
C23—Fire, thermal and acoustics testing
C25—Payment process
C27—Availability of lifting equipment
C28—Contract type
C29—Capabilities inconsistency between companies
C30—Lifting delay
C13—Market demand
C18—Compliance and inspection
C21—Moisture control
C26—Surface protection
C31—Knowledge on cost analysis
C32—Finish inconsistency of products
Note: D—current industry development, B—benefits, C—challenges.
Table 5. Benefits and challenges shared by academia and industry interviews.
Table 5. Benefits and challenges shared by academia and industry interviews.
Common BenefitsCommon Challenges
B1—Time saving
B2—Better quality
B3—Energy saving
B4—Improved construction safety
B5—General cost benefits
B6—Reduce on-site work and labour
B7—Reduce on-site construction waste
B8—Addressing skills shortage
B9—Lower production due to remote manufacture
B10—Less disruptive to neighbours
B11—Relief housing demand
B12—Waste recyclability
B13—Material saving
B14—Light weight of prefabricated materials
B15—Increase project certainty
C1—Cost inefficiency
C2—Lack of skilled workforce
C4—Lack of standardisation
C5—Increased transportation and logistics considerations/restrictions
C9—Inflexible for design change
C13—Market demand
C14—Site access
C15—Lifting safety
C16—Protection during transportation
C18—Compliance and inspection
C19—Lack of adoption for automated production system
C21—Moisture control
C23—Fire, thermal and acoustics testing
C25—Payment process
C26—Surface protection
Note: B—benefits, C—challenges.
Table 6. Eight aspects of Australian prefabrication challenges and recommendations.
Table 6. Eight aspects of Australian prefabrication challenges and recommendations.
AspectsChallengesIndustry’s PerspectiveRecommendations
ProcurementC25—Payment process
* C28—Contract type
  • Advanced cost preparation prior to on-site activities due to off-site manufacturing of building elements in prefabrication.
  • The most traditional and common building contract type in Australia, design–bid–build does not support early involvement of stakeholders, such as prefabrication companies.
  • More detailed payment terms in contract
  • New construction procurement methods
Design C9—Inflexible for design change
C23—Fire, thermal and acoustics testing
  • Once manufacturing starts, any design changes will result in extra costs and time.
  • As only limited testing results on the fire, thermal and acoustics performance of new prefabricated materials are open-source, companies generally need to perform the testing themselves and apply for approvals from the building council.
  • Early collaborations in the design process
  • Providing more testing results in related standards
Manufacturing * C32—Finish inconsistency of products
C19—Lack of adoption for automated production system
  • Finish inconsistency happens in prefabricated products, especially for lightweight, recycled and low-carbon concrete.
  • Most automatic production system orders are for timber (including cross-laminated timber) and very limited requests are placed on production line systems using light-gauge steel and concrete.
  • Improving the knowledge and usage of quality control tools
  • Promoting automated production systems
Transportation and logisticsC5—Increased transportation and logistics restrictions
C16—Protection during transportation
  • Increased transportation and logistics restrictions include the module’s dimensional constraints and traffic control requirements in transporting heavy and bulky products in high-density populated areas.
  • Prefabricated components may be damaged during transportation by using trucks, ships and trains, due to shock loading.
  • Early collaborations in the design process
  • Application of ICT
  • Adoption of just-in-time philosophy
  • Transportation and logistics management planning
On-site construction C15—Lifting safety
C18—Compliance and inspection
* C27—Availability of lifting equipment
* C30—Lifting delay
C14—Site access
C21—Moisture control
C26—Surface protection
  • The current standard deals with the wind effects in a simple manner, without considering load properties, wind direction, travel path, surface area of crane and surrounding environment. These factors are controlled by site workers, mainly based on their experience, which leads to a lack of consistency.
  • The compliance and inspection process of prefabricated construction challenges the means of inspecting projects.
  • Lifting delay may be due to prefabricated items’ higher requirements for weather conditions, poor quality of prefabricated items and the failure of the transportation of prefabricated items to follow the delivery schedule.
  • More lifting and rigging equipment needs to be available and serviceable to achieve the lifting of prefabricated loads.
  • Prefabrication brings challenges for site access, moisture control and surface protection of prefabricated products.
  • Adequate planning of lifting operation and proper lifting design
  • Appropriate degree of standardisation in procurement, manufacturing, on-site installation and inspection
  • Building inspectors specialising in prefabricated construction
  • Adoption of just-in-time philosophy
  • Early collaborations in the design process
StandardisationC4—Lack of standardisation
  • The development of codes and regulations cannot keep pace with the speed of technology development for modular construction.
  • Appropriate degree of standardisation in procurement, manufacturing, on-site installation and inspection
  • Providing more testing results in related standards
Skills and knowledgeC2—Lack of skilled workforce
  • There is a lack of adequate skill sets in staff regarding technical knowledge, compliance, interpreting drawings in projects and people management. Designers have limited knowledge on manufacturing capability, constructability and transportation ability.
  • Many architects believe that prefab will affect the building aesthetics, and many clients or investors do not favour prefab.
  • Courses or training programs on prefabrication
  • Industry workshops and conferences
  • On-the-job training for industry practitioners
  • Exhibitions, offline and online events and media reports on job training for industry practitioners
Finance and marketC1—Cost inefficiency
C13—Market demand
* C29—Capability inconsistencies between companies
* C31—Knowledge on cost analysis
  • The market demand for prefabricated construction in Australia is still considerably small, which makes it difficult for small to medium prefab companies to manage the growth of the company effectively (low economies of scale).
  • Prefabricated construction loan is still not generalised in Australia.
  • The capabilities between prefab companies vary significantly, which can lead to financial risks for clients.
  • There is insufficient knowledge in terms of comparing the prefabrication cost with traditional construction cost.
  • Financial support from government
  • More client-focused market research
  • International trade tours and trade shows for potential export markets
  • Engaging financial institutions’ interest in prefabrication
  • New funding and financing models
Note: C—challenges, *—new factors.
Table 7. Key responsible parties.
Table 7. Key responsible parties.
Recommendations Key Responsible Parties
Early collaborations in the design process X
Providing more testing results in related standards X X
More detailed payment terms in contracts X
New construction procurement methods X
Improving the knowledge and usage of quality control tools XX
Promoting automated production systems X
The adoption of just-in-time philosophy X
The application of ICT X
Transportation and logistics management planning X
Adequate planning of lifting operations and lifting design X
Appropriate degree of standardisation in procurement, manufacturing, on-site installation and inspection X
Building inspectors specialising in prefabricated construction X
Courses or training programs on prefabrication X
Industry workshops and conferencesXX XXX
On-the-job training for industry practitioners X
Exhibitions, offline and online events and media reports X X
Financial support from governmentX
More client-focused market research X X
International trade tours and trade shows to potential export marketsX X
Engaging financial institutions’ interest in prefabrication XX
New funding and financing models XXX
Note: Gov—government, IA—industry associations, FO—financial organisations, CIP—construction industry practitioners, EDI—education and training institutes, RDI—research and development institutes.
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Zhang, Z.; Tan, Y.; Shi, L.; Hou, L.; Zhang, G. Current State of Using Prefabricated Construction in Australia. Buildings 2022, 12, 1355.

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Zhang Z, Tan Y, Shi L, Hou L, Zhang G. Current State of Using Prefabricated Construction in Australia. Buildings. 2022; 12(9):1355.

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Zhang, Zhiming, Yongtao Tan, Long Shi, Lei Hou, and Guomin Zhang. 2022. "Current State of Using Prefabricated Construction in Australia" Buildings 12, no. 9: 1355.

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