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Trinity Western University

The Factory Setting

55,378 sq ft 90 BUILDING MODULES 5 STOREYS
THE CHALLENGE
THE CHALLENGE

Metric Modular was chosen in December 2017 by Trinity Western University in Langley, B.C. to build a new five-storey wood building with 220 beds. The building must be move-in ready by September, 2018.

At Metric Modular, the advantage we bring to any project is being able to complete nearly all of the construction in the safety of our climate-controlled factory in Agassiz, B.C.

That’s where the magic happens to ensure a much-faster timeline than conventional construction methods, as well as extremely high standards of quality control and an ability to minimize waste.

 

Phase 3: The Manufacturing Process
Phase 3: The Manufacturing Process

At Metric Modular, the advantage we bring to any project is being able to complete nearly all of the construction in the safety of our climate-controlled factory in Agassiz, B.C.

Building each modular unit in our factory means all the site preparation has been completed while the suites were being built simultaneously. The time and cost savings is significant, but building modular housing in a factory offers so many more advantages.

One key is the collaborative approach that de-risks any project we tackle because of how every aspect is planned out in fine detail before hammers ever hit nails.

 

The Factory
The Factory

“Everything gets fired up. With a conventional built, they can’t test anything until all the work is done. We can discover and fix problems as we go”

– Tim Epp

Once the design is finalized, the planning process extends to preparing all the materials for construction. Vital to this process is either buying pre-cut lumber or pre-cutting the lumber ourselves in-house. This minimizes waste and optimizes what Metric Modular gets out of each piece of wood.

“The guys out on the factory floor, they’re not cutting lumber as they go,” Tim says. “It’s all done in advance to exact specifications. The way we’re doing it I think is more accurate and quicker.”

With modular housing, every element is built into each unit in the factory. That means all appliances, fixtures, electrical, sprinklers and plumbing. Each item is tested before it’s ever installed.

“Everything gets fired up,” Tim says. “With a conventional build, they can’t test anything until all the work is done. We can discover and fix problems as we go.”

Once every facet is planned out in exacting detail, construction begins on each modular housing unit. The climate-controlled factory provides an advantage by shielding all building materials from rain and snow to prevent damage.

For the TWU project, each dorm room takes 14 days to complete. This is roughly a 50 percent faster process than conventional builds.

“Having the units built in the factory also means a lot less disruption at the construction site,” Tim says. “It’s a much cleaner process.”

Building units in the factory means a much smaller site footprint because few to no materials need to be stored. There are also far fewer trucks coming and going from the site. And the more than 100 Metric Modular workers building the units stay in the factory, reducing disruptions at building sites with less garbage, less traffic and less demand on local facilities.

Tim Epp
Tim Epp

Meet Tim Epp, Metric Modular’s Director of Manufacturing.

He’s in charge of the factory, overseeing the many different building departments. He says that after the initial design plans are drawn up, each department – from plumbing to HVAC to electrical – studies them and meets with the designers to review and make changes.

It’s an evolutionary process.

“For modular housing, we need to plan more upfront,” Tim says. “We need to have all of our answers right away. This results in a much more streamlined building process.”

“Having the units built in the factory also means a lot less disruption at the construction site. It’s a much cleaner process.”

–  Tim Epp

The Factory Process
The Factory Process

With modular housing, every element is built into each unit in the factory. That means all appliances, fixtures, electrical, sprinklers and plumbing. Each item is tested before it’s ever installed.

If you ever get to visit our factory, the process is fascinating. Framing starts on one end and you can watch as each unit progresses across the factory floor with more and more elements added until a finished unit appears on the other end.

After each unit is framed, it has large steels castors attached underneath so it can be wheeled to the next station.

In all, there are 24 stations in our factory. At each station, another element is added, whether it’s drywall, insulation, paint, fixtures, plumbing, electrical, or more. For TWU units, our millworkers have created such furniture items as desks and beds that are installed in the factory.

HEAR FROM THE TEAM

Having the units built in the factory also means a lot less disruption at the construction site.

Each unit has its own roof and floor, with a layer of framing and insulation in between. This means it has more layers than a conventional build, leading to a quieter living experience that comes with this buffer.

It’s this system of stations that ensures absolute quality control. Each modular unit has its own “book” that travels along with it throughout the factory. This book tells the story of its progress. At each station, that particular stage is inspected, with every element checked, rechecked and then written down in the book. For the TWU project’s 90 units, that means 90 individual books.

Once each modular housing unit is completed, it’s wrapped in thick poly to protect it from the elements. It is then loaded onto a truck and driven to the TWU site and craned into place, where all of the final electrical, plumbing and other connections will be made.

According to Tim, when the modular units are assembled on site, one final advantage is found. Each unit has its own roof and floor, with a layer of framing and insulation in between. This means it has more layers than a conventional build, leading to a quieter living experience that comes with this buffer.

“You’re not hearing footsteps above you,” he says. “Structurally, there’s so much more to them than other types of construction.”

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