Australia: Moving Manufacturing to Modular

Due to a number of factors, manufacturing has declined in Australia, especially in the food and automobile industries, and two staff members of Curtin University have suggested resources be turned to the modular housing market. Jemma Green and Peter Newman say the off-site housing market is a $90 billion industry worldwide, up from $60 billion in 2011, but Australia’s share is only three percent. With an eye toward making it ten percent of the market in 2020, reports, the authors say the procedures, planning and techniques in auto manufacturing are similar to that of making modular homes, opening the door for up-skilling from cars to houses.

While many modular companies just make one story homes, the Hickory Group is producing multi-story modular apartments and motels, has learned. Although they have been making traditional buildings for generations, five years ago they opened a modular factory in Melbourne and now a team of 150 turns out 500 apartments annually, and many are former auto workers.

“Modular will never completely replace conventional building approaches, but it will take a much greater share in the market, particularly for multi-storey buildings. This 21st century innovation offers a much more sustainable option for the construction sector. Australian manufacturing has a window of opportunity here – to turn around the manufacturing industry from ailing to growing. If we don’t seize the day in building manufacturing, foreign companies will certainly fill the gap in the market, which could lead to job losses in traditional building,” they wrote.

(Photo credit:–Australian modular high rise)

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