Transforming the Built Environment: Platform DfMA as the Catalyst for Change

The built environment sector has long grappled with a myriad of challenges, including low productivity, a shortage of high-skilled labor to issues of waste, re-work and a "race to the bottom" mentality.

These challenges hinder the sector’s progress, and we are fast reaching a critical inflection point.

How we currently build is unsustainable

The sector contributes to a staggering 40% of total global carbon emissions. In the face of these challenges, there is a pressing need for innovative solutions to address how we approach building in a more sustainable way.

It is important for us to recognise some of these challenges that have besieged the built environment for years and relook at the pain points. These are some of the existing challenges faced by the Built Environment sector:

Low Productivity: Conventional methods of construction are often labor-intensive and time-consuming, which contribute to delays and cost overruns. This inefficiency has become a major impediment to progress within the industry.

Shortage of Higher-skilled Labor: The demand for specialised workers often outstrips the available talent pool, leading to delays, increased labor costs, and a lack of expertise in critical areas.

Waste and Re-work: Material wastage and the need for re-work due to errors or design changes often contribute to both financial and environmental costs, exacerbating the challenges faced by the industry.

Race to the Bottom Mentality: In a bid to remain competitive, the industry has often succumbed to a "race to the bottom" mentality. Cost-cutting measures can compromise the quality of construction projects, leading to suboptimal outcomes for both clients and the environment.

High Carbon Emissions: It is without a doubt that the built environment sector is a significant contributor to carbon emissions. Energy-intensive construction processes and the use of non-sustainable materials contribute to the industry's carbon footprint. As global awareness of climate change grows, addressing this environmental impact is paramount.

Turning the corner with Platform DfMA

A new approach is required to address these endemic challenges and enable the built environment industry to perform. We believe a platform approach to Design for Manufacturing and Assembly (P-DfMA) can be the catalyst for change.

DfMA is an integrated approach to product and process design that emphasises optimising the manufacturing and assembly processes during the initial design phase. The approach involves designing structures and components with a focus on ease of manufacturing and assembly, incorporating modular and standardised elements.

However, the success of DfMA hinges on bringing manufacturing knowledge to the forefront during the design phase. While this may seem self-evident, it is a facet frequently overlooked. Design processes frequently occur in isolation from builders, manufacturers, and suppliers, thereby diminishing the potential efficiency gains that DfMA offers.

The solution we have been waiting for 

Podium for Development (P4D) is is a digital platform that accelerates design-to-supply by using design automation algorithms to match a DfMA ready "kit of parts" to optimal design outcomes such as cost, time, quality, and sustainability.

P-DfMA starts with a standardised set of building components or systems that can be reused across multiple projects. Building components or systems are designed with a focus on flexibility, scalability, and modularity.

Platform-based design can be used in a variety of building types, from residential to commercial and industrial buildings. By using a standardised set of components or systems, designers can configure a wide range of building designs while still maintaining consistency and quality.

A platform approach is an enabler for change. By affording collaborative engagement across designers, builders, and manufacturers right from the project's conceptualisation, we P4D creates an ecosystem where developers and designers can easily connect with suppliers to enable high productivity, sustainable, modern methods of design and construction.

Reimaging collaboration in the built environment

By embracing this platform-driven paradigm, we unlock the promise of DfMA, streamlined processes, cost-effectiveness, and sustainability. The synergy between innovative design practices and collaborative engagement offers a pathway to reshape the construction industry, driving it towards a more resilient and responsible future.

As we embrace change, P4D and similar platforms can provide the tools needed to construct a built environment that is not only efficient and cost-effective but also environmentally sustainable.

Article written by Richard Kuppusamy