Andy Dearing, CEOThere is a revolution brewing in the construction industry. For generations, construction materials have been delivered to the job site, and “stick built” right there. But with the advent of new manufacturing processes and better technology, the construction industry’s forward-thinkers are embracing the concept of prefabrication. Prefabricating key components off-site— and then assembling them on-site—is faster, cheaper, safer and greener than stick-building.
But the revolution brings unforeseen problems. Managing the supply chain– once done solely with material vendors– must now encompass prefabrication. The superintendents and project managers on the job site now require visibility and input into the manufacturing process. Shipping requires up-to-date manufacturing information. And all this must be integrated with construction planning, so that the process can unfold smoothly from design to manufacturing to shipment to final installation. The current tools–phone, email, and Excel– are quickly reaching the limits of their usefulness.
Enter ManufactOn, a cloud-and-mobile solution that neatly integrates prefabrication planning, material handling, manufacturing, and shipping. The ManufactOn story starts with integration and coordination. Everyone, from General Contractor to Subcontractors, has visibility into the project. GC and Sub can work together to determine the prefabrication scope of work. That scope of work gets carved up, and sent to each Sub’s manufacturing department. There, design is finalized, manufacturing is done, and QA signs off. As needed, the results are shipped just-in-time. Best of all, ManufactOn also supports traditional vendor-to-site material handling: it is all integrated into a single Shipping view.
ManufactOn is a significant advancement in prefab production management software
This new paradigm will have enormous impact. All project stakeholders are connected: project executives, superintendents, project managers, manufacturing detailers, Shop Foremen, shipping managers and procurement managers all see the same information. Project executives and Superintendents can see what is in the manufacturing or material-management pipeline, and can use that information to maintain schedules and estimate the impact of requested changes. Shop Foremen can load-balance their manufacturing work across multiple locations, and see what work is in the pipeline. As they work, they can easily communicate progress on their iOS or Android device. Construction detailers have a platform to work with Shop Foremen to determine manufacturing methodology. And all of it ties back to planning, where the original prefabrication work was scoped and carved up.
To illustrate, consider the success story of a large Boston-area mechanical subcontractor. This firm was rapidly expanding its prefabrication capacity, but was running up against the limits of phone, email and Excel. Planners were using Excel to manage upcoming work. Manufacturing detailers were generating paper drawings, and then throwing them “over the wall” to the shop foreman. As manufacturing proceeded, the Foreman were fielding phone calls from Superintendents, asking when items would be ready. But with ManufactOn, all stakeholders are now connected. The Superintendent can see what is ready, without having to call. Manufacturing detailers simply send an order to the Shop Foreman, who gets notified on his/ her smartphone. They have been able to do away with Excel, and all of its attendant problems.
Raghi Iyengar, ManufactOn’s CEO, summarizes it thus: “ManufactOn is a significant advancement in prefab production management software, as its users can manage material while having a granular view of the underlying manufacturing processes.” It is this unique combination of capabilities–shared visibility, functional integration, and just-in-time supply-chain management– that will enable ManufactOn to lead the way in the construction industry’s new prefabrication revolution.