Where is the modular industry headed and will this interest lead to greater adoption of modular construction?
Over the past five years, MBI has seen a shift towards more steel frame modular construction. Five years ago, about 80 percent of the North American industry was utilizing wood-frame modules. Today, it’s about 70 percent wood-frame. We are also seeing a trend towards taller modular buildings here, also contributing to the increased use of steel. North America actually lags behind several countries in terms of construction innovation and advancement. In places like the U.K., Singapore, Australia, Japan, Sweden, and China, industrialized construction processes are more widely accepted. Many of these countries faced the same challenges as in North America today.
Not surprisingly, we have seen several examples where the building modules were fabricated outside North America and imported and incorporated into projects here. The concept will catch on. It’s realty a question of whether the North American construction industry is concerned enough to get on board. If history is any indication, we will see a significant shift towards modular and off-site construction techniques over the next five years as greater numbers of the skilled labor force retire. The construction industry will (and must) evolve into a more industrialized industry.