Sweden and Japan world’s foremost countries within industrialised construction

Industrialised construction gained momentum during the record years with the Million Program in the 1960s. Wall panels were constructed in factories and assembled on site, whereas the rest was mostly made artisanally.

Today, industrialised construction involves embracing industrial principles and adopting them to the specific conditions of construction

“This involved mass production, the ideal was taken from Ford’s car factories”, explains Jerker Lessing. “But the human factor was absent and the large-scale neighbourhoods with monotonous structures were not appreciated by residents.”

The concept reappeared about ten years ago in housing and construction debates. This time the major construction companies envisioned an industrialised construction of high quality with a greater choice for the customer. Some of the companies invested heavily in development and set up housing factories with advanced techniques for producing custom buildings in a rational and effective way.

Some of these investments were a little too daring and a number of the advanced housing factories closed down.

“But the idea is far from dead. On the contrary, it is still spreading”, explains Jerker Lessing.

Today’s focus lies more on new methods in production and organisation with smaller-scale investments. The aim is to standardise both techniques and processes, to increase information in the supply chain and apply the concepts “just in time” and “lean manufacturing”. There are more investments today than there were a few years ago, however, they are not as comprehensive and focused on advanced factory production as before.

Today, Sweden and Japan are the world’s two foremost countries in this technology. Japan has come a long way in terms of automated production of small houses. Car companies such as Toyota are among the manufacturers.

“Our methods are most widespread in terms of small houses; roughly 80 per cent of the production of our small houses is carried out with industrial methods, and 15-20 per cent of our apartment blocks.”

Mats Nygren

FOOTNOTE: For those of you who would like to find out more, there is, among other things, a publication from the National Housing Board, in which Jerker Lessing summarises his thesis for the general public: www.boverket.se/Global/Webbokhandel/Dokument/2008/Industriellt_bostadsbyggande_koncept_och_processer.pdf

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