In addition to prefabricated and modularized systems, industrial plants serving the power, oil and gas, and manufacturing markets often need temporary space during shutdowns, renovations or expansions to accommodate relocated staff, construction offices and eating areas.

The advantages of temporary modular buildings as a solution for transitional or swing space are pretty well established at this point:
  • The owner isn’t stuck with a building after its needs are met, and the building can be moved from one project to another.
  • A modular unit can be erected in about 60 days, give or take, depending on the size and scope of the job. Significant time savings in the construction process leads to cost savings.
  • The modular building provider takes responsibility for the unit’s design, construction, code compliance, transportation/delivery and installation, including utility connections and finish work.
  • Limiting onsite work to final assembly of modular components improves safety and quality—two points of emphasis on industrial projects with stringent standards and tightly controlled environments.
“We have to take a lot of restrictions into account in these locations, including working hours, security access and where we can store materials,” says Sam Tikriti, vice president of construction services for ModSpace, Oakdale, Penn. “The less time we spend onsite and the more controlled process we have, the better the solution is for the client.”

But as project needs change—particularly the shrinking footprint available in plants for additional buildings—clients are looking for more flexibility from temporary modular facilities. Traditional modular buildings are a 12-foot by 60-foot box with a steel frame set on wheels so they can be pulled and set onsite. When limited space is a problem, the requirements change.

“One of our latest products has an 8-foot by 20-foot footprint with a panelized wall system that allows for interchanging panel locations depending on the space layout and room design,” Tikriti says. “It’s also a ground-mounted product; not above grade like most modular units.”

Tikriti expects the trend toward more flexible interior and exterior walls to continue, and foresees modular buildings becoming smarter in terms of their ability to have an ongoing line of communication between the user and provider for maintenance and customer service via a smart panel or other device.

Overall, technology and sustainability will be points of emphasis for modular providers in the coming years.

“These buildings will involve a lot more IT infrastructure and technical capabilities (e.g., hardware and software) so users can be more connected in their daily work. We want to make it easier for them to hook up and do their job.” Tikriti says. “Sustainable components haven’t gained much traction yet due to cost, but we will start to see more environmentally friendly materials incorporated.”  

Joanna Masterson is senior editor of Construction Executive. For more information, email or follow @ConstructionMag.