Case for Modular Construction
01 January 2017

Case for Modular Construction

Modular clean room construction can offer a number of important advantages over conventional (stick-build) approaches. For example, modular walls are an inherently dry construction material with little or no modification required for installation, thus minimizing dust generation. Modular systems can also be manufactured from materials that are non-shedding and non-particulating.

Since modular construction creates little dust, a “clean build” approach can be taken by installing other critical processes along side it. Fit-outs can be cut into panels at the same time as the erection of the system, reducing the project schedule. For less complicated non-pharmaceutical projects, it has been shown that modular construction can reduce construction time by 20 to 40 percent through parallel construction. In addition, modular construction greatly enhances facility clean-up post-construction.

Modular construction can also offer a solution to a lack of skilled labor in any given market. Modular walls are manufactured to provide a consistent quality, which can vary with conventional construction from one section of a cleanroom to another depending on the skill level of the laborers. Since modular construction is prefabricated, the modular system manufacturer and contractor can also coordinate project schedules and have construction materials shipped in stages based on the portion of the facility being built. As that section is being built, the next group of materials can be staged and shipped to coordinate with the completion of the previous installation.

Although modular walls are more expensive up-front, costs can be offset by the savings achieved through greater productivity. For example, modular construction results in less construction material waste because of greater reliance on standard construction sizes and prefabrication of components. Since materials are pre-engineered and cut to size at the factory, in many cases on-site cutting of materials can be completely eliminated. In addition, modular construction can be considered a piece of equipment in most states and therefore subject to accelerated depreciation and tax considerations.

Modular construction also offers advantages for meeting regulatory requirements and standards. Modular wall systems are manufactured with factory-controlled procedures, producing a consistent, quality product with no variation. This ensures that what has been successfully employed at one facility will perform the same in future installations The material must also be installed in a set manner, producing a consistent appearance.

Prefabricated wall systems incorporate the principles outlined in current engineering guidelines and apply them to clean room design and construction. Modular architectural systems have incorporated design criteria for system performance following good engineering practices, taking into account GMP, cGMP, safety, health, regulatory requirements, and industry guidelines.

Modular design also accommodates the need for flexibility. For example, non-progressive construction with demountable walls allows the removal of individual wall panels without disturbing adjacent panels, flooring or ceiling. In addition, modular systems can be disassembled and modules can be relocated to quickly create or expand cleanrooms, lowering the costs of expanding existing pilot plants or low-volume launches to high-volume operations.

Modular wall systems can be designed with access panels into the chases. Full-size panels can also be easily removed to access larger openings into the chases. Modular panel systems allow owners and contractors the ability to make field modifications during the process installation, offering additional installation flexibility and potential design cost savings. The ability to use standard components offers economic savings by decreasing design costs and increasing construction predictability.

Customers can buy or lease modular cleanrooms, which are considered a piece of equipment, not a part of the existing structure. This means significant financial advantages because they can be depreciated at an accelerated rate. For a company leasing space, a modular room remains the property of the lessee, while any conventional construction would remain with the space and be the property of the lessor.

Flexibility remains a key design option in the use of modular architectural systems, as well as the ability to incorporate only those materials that best suit the project scope and design requirements. Pre-engineered modular architectural systems for cleanrooms and critical environments can offer owners, architects, and engineers construction alternatives and flexibility while maintaining the design criteria and regulatory guidelines required for specialty clean room environments.