Design is one of the core concepts of construction, but what is the design process of the construction industry ultimately geared towards? Creating a building that stakeholders and users are happy with at a reasonable cost.

DfMA (Design for Manufacturing and Assembly) is a process that is used within the construction industry to simplify elements of the construction process through the use of BIM and modular drawings, to manufacture parts of the building off-site – in a way that balances cost, performance and quality.

During the latter stages of the design process, it may be difficult for teams to be able to link the needs of the stakeholders with the product specifications. DfMA is usually practised by design and manufacturing engineers in order to simplify parts, processes and product designs as assembly and manufacture are married for optimum efficiency in the DfMA approach.

A logical way to think about DfMA is to break it down into the following sections: raw materials, processes and product assembly. Selecting the right raw materials, machines and processes are very important to ensure the end product meets the required design specifications. This is why DfMA follows a meticulous design review method when the product is assembled, to identify optimal part design for the product and ensure the most efficient and cost-effective method for production.

How does BfMA work?

The factory that is making the prefabricated parts, such as the MEP services, is usually off-site? Therefore,  in order for effective engineering to take place, the engineers based in the factory need to be well informed about how the assemblies should be conducted, including having the ability to translate drawing and model details into finished components, a knowledge of where the assembled parts are located and so on. It also involves a lot of planning so that all components are delivered to the off-site location and stored in the best way to allow for easy access.

All of these processes need to have the designer, logistics team and planning teams involved as a collaboration between these will make the end product more reliable and cost-effective.

Actual prefabricated products may include a kit of parts that can be easily and quickly assembled on site. These kits include elements needed for a particular part of the construction such as boards and studs, wiring looms, volumetric bathrooms and prefabricated service units for apartment complexes.

What makes BfMA so advantageous?

There are ten main reasons why BfMA is so advantageous, and these are:

  1. Cost. Using fewer parts, removing the need for unique parts and decreasing labour costs all reduce cost, with the off-site manufacturing process also unaffected by weather conditions.
  2. Speed. A decrease in assembly time due to standard assembly practices being enforced, including stacking up components of the assembly in order and self-aligning parts needed no adjustment
  3. Ability to Test: Off-site solutions can be considered early on in the project planning phase with the aid of the BIM process helping to deliver specifications for prototypes so they can be extensively tested
  4. Efficiency: Pre-fabricated elements are made off-site and go through a great degree of quality control making them more consistent, with remedial works therefore taking less time
  5. Design Schedules: Parts handling can have an impact on design scheduling and so the design should strive to reduce the possibility of parts becoming entangled or needing specialist tools for assembly.
  6. Safety: Health and safety issues can be more effectively controlled in a factory environment
  7. Site Space: DfMA can be of benefit to sites with complicated logistics, and limited space and access such as airports or city centre locations
  8. Volume Needs: Projects that involve repetitive elements in their structure, such as schools, can benefit significantly from BfMA as it can limit build time on site
  9. Resource Availability: DfMA can relieve skill shortages through the need for less investment in labour than traditional on-site processes
  10. Simplifying manufacturing activities: DFMA optimises and simplifies the manufacturing process, especially through the use of modules in the product design

As you can see, DfMA offers construction companies a number of advantages, as long as the solution starts with a good understanding of the end product.  The CAD Room has lots of experience in providing DfMA modelling and prefabrication services for architects, general contractors, MEP engineers and structural engineers – so please don’t hesitate to contact us to find out more.