The start of the craning process is an important milestone for everyone at Metric Modular.
It marks the transition from the hard work of every worker building the modular units at our factory to actually putting each unit into place at their permanent home.
It’s so important, we wanted to share the process with others.
That’s why, for this project, we staged a week-long craning party: the first “Modset Event” in Metro Vancouver’s history.
We’re building 90 dorm rooms in a five-storey building for students at Trinity Western University. To showcase this, we hosted groups from the education, architecture and construction sectors to come watch the modules be craned into place. Our guests were then given tours of modules that had literally just been set into their designated spots, with all the connections made.
Craig Mitchell, Metric Modular’s Director of Innovative Solutions, got to watch the reactions of people touring the modules and he says they were “amazed” at seeing all the pieces being put together. There’s a real “wow” factor when people see a module being set into place that’s already 95% complete – including built-in furniture, fixtures, flooring, tiling, plumbing, electrical and more.
The keys were already in the locks and even the mattresses were on the beds.
– Joe Cosgrove
Being able to move at this speed, however, requires months of painstaking planning and collaboration with the client and our designers and factory staff before anything is handed off to our people at the TWU site.
Just like an orchestra needs a great conductor to make beautiful music, Metric Modular needs a master of coordination to ensure the craning process runs smoothly. For the TWU project, that’s Joe Cosgrove, Vice-President of Projects.
Joe says craning the modules involves intense preparation to de-risk every step of the process and multiple groups of people working together before the modules can be shipped to the site.
Timelines must sync together, such as the foundation being ready when the first modules are ready to be trucked to the site, as well as increased power and safety requirements when the units start to arrive.
“The timelines must all match,” Joe says. “There’s modular sequencing, trucking sequencing, craning sequencing. This requires a lot of consultation and collaboration.”
– Joe Cosgrove
Every project has its own challenges. For the TWU building, one of them was the roads leading to the school. Each large modular unit arrives on a truck and the challenge is that TWU has only one entrance and it’s narrow. The road leading up to the school property is also narrow, as well as winding with several “hairpin” curves, Joe says.
“To prepare, we walked the truckers through the route beforehand to ensure they understood every tricky part of the road,” Joe says. “We made sure every detail was covered.”
Joe had to deal with an extra complication because the Township of Langley is doing road work right at the entrance of TWU, including closing off an entire lane. That meant working closely with the township to de-risk moving the modules through the construction site.
Once the modules arrive on site, they are placed on blocks in a laydown yard until they are ready to be craned into place. There are always two trucks on site and multiple units waiting to be craned in sequence, a process that prevents any delays.
At Modset, people were able to see the finished detail of how modules come out of the factory
– Stephen Branch
Stephen Branch, President of Metric Modular, says one of the most common things he heard during the craning parties was how solid each module is when they step inside.
“People are wowed because it’s not what they expect,” Stephen says. “They see the level of quality that goes into every module. These aren’t built trailers, they’re built buildings and you see how solid they are.”
Visitors also noticed how compact the building site is, with only about five to ten workers required at any given time during the craning process, Stephen said, because most everything is already built into each modular unit when it arrives.
“All of the materials are inside the box,” Stephen says. “So nobody is carrying materials up and down all day. It’s a much more streamlined and safer environment.”
Stephen also noted that visitors during the “Modset Event” were amazed at how the units were assembled. It’s not just first floor, second floor, third floor. One floor is started, then part of the second, then part of the third, with modules staggered and angled around the building’s elevator, before work begins on a different side.
“It’s a complex process,” Stephen says. “Nobody’s ever done a five-storey modular building in Canada before so people are getting a really unique view.”
Building a project no company has ever done in Canada before might be daunting for some, but Joe says Metric Modular has been able to pull it off for one main reason: their people.
“We’ve got a great team,” he says. “I’ve been doing this a long time and I can say with confidence this is the best group I’ve ever worked with.”
Trinity Western University needed to expand student housing, but timing was tight. With just 9 months from contract signing to students moving in, Trinity turned to Metric Modular to ensure the timeline would be met.View Phase
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 had to be move-in ready by September 2018.View Phase
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 costs savings is significant, but building modular housing in a factory offers so many more advantages.View Phase
The start of the craning process is an important milestone as it marks the transition from the hard work of building the modular units at our factory to actually putting each unit into place at their permanent home.
The new housing offers a radical improvement to TWU's ability to compete with other schools because it has been designed taking into consideration students' lifestyle.View Phase