Why build on site if you don’t have to?
That’s the question being asked across projects around the country, and while the HVAC industry has been relatively slow to come to the party, prefabricated HVAC plant is now a reality – and for good reason.
As well as leading to more accurate assembly, the process removes the costs and risks associated with on-site construction.
Our European, American and Asian counterparts have been doing it for some time, and more recently Australian builders and building owners are recognising the benefits.
The emergence of 3D modelling, including BIM, is making the job easier – but such detail is not always required.
Take for example the recent refurbishment of the Harold Holt Swim Centre in Melbourne’s inner-east.
Automatic Heating were approached by the mechanical services contractor to prefabricate a skidframe and platform to accommodate new chiller and boiler plant.
Built to fit precisely into the available space on the swim centre’s rooftop, the platform was constructed at Automatic Heating’s state-of-the-art assembly facility and transported to the site before being lifted into place by crane.
And because the plant had been pre-commissioned in a controlled environment, commissioning onsite was seamless and the new systems were up and running in a matter of hours.
Automatic Heating has long advocated that advantages of prefabricated plant where practical, as have many contractors in the industry.
“Make no mistake – prefabrication is today’s best practice design,” says Terry Plaisted, sales manager for Automatic Heating.
“As well as providing for an accurate installation, the reduced time onsite reduces labour costs, helps to condense construction timeframes and ultimately delivers financial savings to the project. And by prefabricating in a controlled environment, rather than in the challenging construction environment, the process leads to reduced risk and greater accuracy.”
“The level of accuracy that can be achieved in a controlled environment is much greater than that afforded on the construction site,” he says. “It stands to reason, therefore, that the prefabricated product is typically far superior which is good news for the engineer, contractor and equipment supplier.”
Improved accuracy and efficiency
Prefabrication in a controlled assembly environment leads to greater accuracy of plant construction and reduced labour costs compared to that on a busy construction site.
Reduced risk and timeframes
A prefabricated plant delivers less risk for all stakeholders – builder, engineer, contractor and equipment supplier – as well as reducing construction programs.
By prefabricating offsite, the plant can be pre-commissioned, potential issues identified and corrections made before the plant even reaches its final destination.
This video demonstrates the use of HVAC prefabrication techniques at the Harold Holt Swim Centre.