Precast construction, also known as prefabricated construction, finds application in the construction of structures or buildings where most of the structural components are standard and made in plants located away from the construction site. They are then transported to the site for installation. Precast construction involves mass production of components and hence offers several advantages, such as optimum time management, increased efficiency, consistent quality and cost effectiveness. Besides these factors, precast construction gains an edge over conventional construction due to its relatively high durability, ease of installation and reduced product maintenance. Structures are successfully erected at a much faster pace with the use of precast construction; thereby increasing its market demand. The aesthetic superiority, coupled with lesser maintenance and increased durability offered by precast construction are driving global demand for the precast construction market.
However, structures made using precast construction display lesser flexibility in their designing basics as compared to those made with conventional construction. Also, linkages or connections linking precast construction products (structural links) could pose design issues. Furthermore, in order to achieve economies of scale, structures ideally need to be of a regular shape, which has been a constraint in the applications of precast construction globally.
The plan of a building or structure is affected by the replication of forms, which is a characteristic of precast construction. It has also been frequently observed that panel linkages are costly and complex in nature. Also, the on-site installation of panels needs skilled labor. Besides, precast construction also mandates the use of cranes to lift construction parts, which incurs further installation costs. With regard to application of the precast construction panels on-site, there is a need of skilled labor and heavy-duty machinery, which has been making the application of precast construction uneconomical, and hence posing a concern for the precast construction market.
Precast construction technology has been found to be environment-friendly; hence, the technology has gained widespread approval from all over the globe. Besides the techno-economic benefits, precast construction delivery has been inducing users to switch to this new technology from the conventional one.
In the North American region, especially the U.S., new market participants could make a foothold after a relatively comfortable entry in smaller, niche construction segments in the near future. However, hurdles could be expected during market entry in the most important industry verticals as existing market participants in the precast construction market have the benefit of an established customer base and in-depth market knowledge, apart from their existing brand image – at least at a local level. Besides, some of them have vertically integrated enough to produce cement and concrete, thereby gaining considerable advantages in terms of production cost and infrastructural efficiency, which would be inaccessible to new entrants. Thus, it could be expected that in the near future, new precast construction companies would successfully enter only niche U.S. sub-markets.
It has been observed that growth in the worldwide demand for modular construction has been encouraging growth of the precast construction market and this trend is expected to continue for the next few years, as building contractors and construction companies are opting for precast construction in the modular construction business.
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