Industry 4.0 and Smart Prefab – Building 4.0 CRC helping pave the way

The Australian construction industry has faced severe challenges over the past two decades. Spiralling costs of building materials and construction has contributed to making housing less affordable. Productivity, sustainability, health and safety imperatives, together with the market-wide expectation for high-quality design, have further challenged traditional construction.

Setting the scene for things to come, the building industry in Australia has recognised the productivity and efficiency gains that advanced manufacturing and Industry 4.0 techniques can offer.

Industry 4.0, or The Fourth Industrial Revolution as it’s sometimes referred, will see the ongoing automation of traditional manufacturing and industrial practices using a suite of new technologies and processes. Longer term, this is likely to see increased automation, improved communication and self-monitoring, and production of intelligent processes and systems that can analyse and diagnose issues without the need for human intervention.

In response to the construction challenges, a more advanced approach to manufacturing and the wider use of offsite, modular and prefabricated construction is a viable solution. In July 2020, then Minister for Industry, Science and Technology Karen Andrews announced the funding to the Advanced Manufacturing Growth Centre (AMGC) to establish and manage the “Prefab Innovation Hub”, which explores the question, and focuses on new skills and developing pathways towards a more advanced manufacturing approach to building.

As such, AMGC is engaging with Building 4.0 CRC to carry out a project on the application of Industry 4.0 manufacturing principles in the prefabrication construction sector.

“Together with AMGC, other leading companies, and research organisations, we will be developing a roadmap for Smart Prefab and Industry 4.0 for the broader Australian building industry,” said Professor Tuan Ngo, Building 4.0 CRC’s Program Leader for Building Transformation.

“Ultimately, the outcomes of this project will be a pathway for the growth of prefab buildings in Australia, and the adoption of the Industry 4.0 approach, which we hope will bring increased collaboration between industry and research, increased prefab innovation and R&D, and other industry, research, social, environmental and financial benefits,” concluded Melbourne University’s Professor Ngo.

The project will run for twelve months and includes a wide spectrum of CRC partners.

Keep updated on project information here.