File-to-Factory: Transferring Design Intent to Manufacture
Digital fabrication has become a common way of producing and constructing designs more efficiently, challenging the traditional methods of construction, and the way we design. Despite the new technologies used to enhance the design process, there is still a disconnect between design and construction. Building Information Modelling (BIM) has been a step towards creating a more fluid workflow. However, it is not currently being fully utilised within New Zealand. Along with a lack of interoperability, this has contributed to the limited productivity of the construction industry. The ability to take a BIM model direct to manufacture is critical to leverage the information of the model and reduce expensive remodelling. The use of BIM tools not only aims to maximise efficiency when delivering a project but also provides a new way of working and a solution to improve file-to-factory production. Design for Manufacture and Assembly (DfMA), although relatively new to the architecture and building industry, could have substantial benefits for the way architecture projects are designed and constructed. This process consists of a set of guidelines that take into consideration the manufacturability and assembly of the design from the very beginning. Qualitative and experimental methods have been used for initial and developed testing drawn from case studies, a review of the literature, and data from interviews with industry professionals. Five interviews were conducted with industry professionals across the design to manufacturing spectrum. The interviews identified current issues within the architecture and building industry directly related to file-to-factory. A new file-to-factory workflow has been developed utilising BIM tools and DfMA principles to explore the impact this process could have on the buildings we design and construct in New Zealand. The workflow does not consist of new processes or tools but instead couples the two together. By utilising the existing BIM technology and implementing DfMA, this means the designer can consider both the requirements of the design and how the design will be manufactured and assembled. The collaborative workflow can eliminate the need for remodelling, and reduce errors, cost, and time. This is significant to the industry because it begins to streamline the design-to-construction process and allow for the industry to grow, advance, and increase productivity.