RC108 SeptOct2023 - Magazine - Page 11
HOW POMERLEAU’S PREFABRICATED CONSTRUCTION
APPROACH DEFIED PANDEMIC CHALLENGES
The pandemic was a true accelerator for the construction industry to use innovation on and off sites.
Even after three years, companies are continuing to adopt and adapt methods that ensure safer and more
efficient production. During the pandemic, Pomerleau, a leader in the Canadian construction industry,
was able to increasingly use prefabricated construction to meet tight deadlines and provide additional
spaces for hospitals to treat patients. In doing so, the company continued to develop an expertise that it
deploys on its current projects.
Prefabricated construction is completed off-site in a factory.
A permanent structure is built with prefabricated elements.
These structures are called modules, and they are built using
the same materials and are designed to the same codes
and standards as traditional construction. The modules are
transported from the factory to sites where they are installed,
decreasing construction times and increasing safety
Pomerleau has utilized the prefabricated construction method
to build sections of bridges, concrete walls, and girders for
structural elements. During the pandemic, Pomerleau was
awarded several public works contracts to speed up the
development, design and delivery of standalone hospital
wards that were issued to handle the additional patient influx
caused by COVID-19.
Due to the importance and urgency of the projects, conventional
“site-built” construction, where materials are delivered and
assembled in step-by-step phases by a dozen different
specialized contractors and subject to weather conditions,
would have taken too long. The construction industry was also
impacted by material availability and site shutdowns because of
the pandemic, making it more difficult to get work done on time.
This approach significantly accelerated project delivery. One
contract involved building a 24-stretcher ward for a hospital, with
office space on the second floor. A conventional build would have
taken a year; thanks to this prefabricated approach, Pomerleau
was able to cut construction time to only three months.
Utilizing the prefabricated construction method meant
that structures could be built directly at the factory, while
simultaneously doing the foundation work on-site. Rigorous
quality control measures at the factory helped shorten the
duration of on-site inspections once the modules had been
The ongoing use of prefabricated construction elements can
greatly benefit from the use of Virtual Design and Construction
(VDC) technologies such as Building Information Modelling
(BIM), the close monitoring of schedules and deadlines, and a
thorough understanding of materials and systems. By ensuring
continuous communication across all its pan-Canadian projects,
Pomerleau’s teams find solutions for each aspect of the build no
matter the circumstance; this expertise enables the company
to reduce on-site construction time, optimize costs, reduce a
project’s environmental impact, and increase safety.
Pomerleau worked with different manufacturers to help design
and fabricate the modules for the projects. A series of stackable
modules, that could be delivered and installed as completed
wards (between 24 and 96 stretchers/beds) to hospitals
throughout Montreal, were created. Highly durable modules
were also designed and manufactured to add temporary patient
beds to healthcare facilities.
SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2023 – RENEW CANADA 11