Integration is a hot buzz word in construction right now so it shouldn’t be surprising that a lot is happening in today’s construction tech startup world around prefab and modular technology. From Katerra’s huge Series D investment from SoftBank to the Australian modular parking structure fabricator and builder Parkd raising funds last year, there is no shortage of interesting news around these types of companies that are aiming to integrate design, procurement, and construction processes.
Recently, in addition to Parkd, another Australian startup has secured seven-figure funding for a modular construction solution. Based in Perth, Pro9 Global has raised $8M to build a manufacturing facility in Sydney for its modular construction solutions. Claiming that its technology can reduce construction costs by 20 percent and overall project schedules by 30 percent, its wall, façade, and window systems are assembled on the construction site and are designed for multi-story construction, but with thermal and acoustic efficiency also prioritized.
Last year, the company signed a $20M contract with a Croatian property manager to reclad residential buildings with its efficient facades. Now, it is taking aim at Australia and hopes to crack much larger projects in its domestic market, where demand currently outstrips its ability to deliver supply.
“Our business is unearthing the industry’s challenges, then taking an agile approach to product design and manufacture to create value. We have built a culture of innovation to constantly challenge ourselves to find ways of doing things better, faster and more cost efficiently,” Managing Director Daniel Jukic told the Brisbane Times.
Analysis from AEC Labs:
Prefabrication and, ultimately, 3D printing have the potential to address what we believe to be the largest problem preventing increases in construction industry productivity: the geographic, regulatory, and technical segmentation of the industry. And, in some ways, construction suffers from a “last mile” problem similar to logistics – it costs much more to deliver that FedEx package from the airport hub to your front door than it does to float it or fly it across the Pacific Ocean. Executing in the field – from labor costs to insurance to claims – is where projects can go sideways and sink already thin margins.
So, if design and construction firms could reuse digital design components and manufacture those components in the field, it could go a long way towards driving down costs, reducing risks, and increasing margins. A fully integrated design, procurement, and construction solution has the potential to scale across markets and geographies. Indeed, it seems like many startups are recognizing that streamlining design and construction is one way to crack the industry’s efficiency problems. For example, Katerra and Apis Cor are two startups we’ve discussed here at AEC Labs that are setting the pace in this regard.
We’ll have to see how – and whether –regulatory regimes adapt to these new types of technologies and delivery models. But in the interim there is clearly a path forward in the prefab and modular sectors of the construction tech space.