Off-site Construction Research Centre

World of Modular Convention and Tradeshow through the lens of the OCRC

Author: OCRC

Posted on Apr 12, 2023

Category: Events

About the conference

The Modular Building Institute's (MBI) World of Modular Convention & Tradeshow is a premier annual event that brings together industry experts, architects, engineers and construction professionals from around the world. The 2023 convention provided its 1500 attendees with insights into the latest trends, innovations and best practices in the field.

The convention features a wide range of sessions and workshops that cover topics such as design, engineering, project management and manufacturing. Attendees can also participate in networking events and explore the latest products and services at the tradeshow. Dr. Jeff H. Rankin, professor and department chair for civil engineering at UNB, Brandon Searle, director of innovation and operations and Nicole Odo, project manager at the OCRC had the opportunity to attend the World of Modular event from March 28 to April 1 in Las Vegas, Nevada. The team will share their key takeaways, lessons learned and overall impressions of the event. Whether you are a seasoned industry professional or just starting in the field, this post will provide valuable insights into the World of Modular event and what you can expect to gain by attending!

World of Modular 2024

Keynote speakers

There were three keynote speakers at the convention that shared their expertise, insights and experiences with attendees. Here are the takeaways from our researchers:

Q: Who was your favourite keynote speaker whose presentation stood out to you the most?

Brandon: Dr. Basu presented annual trends on the labour market across North America and some of the fears associated with it. If companies have not already explored modular construction to deliver projects, the time is now as the continuous growth in demand for housing and commercial buildings does not appear to slow down despite the fears of a shrinking labour force.

Eric Boles, former NFL player, spoke about “Leading & Managing in a New Reality.” My primary takeaway from this was his 5 Steps to Clarity that he uses and can be applied across all businesses and industries: 1) What do you want; 2) Why do you want it; 3) How will you do it; 4) What are the benefits; and 5) What’s the cost of inaction?

Jeff: Dr. Basu – the industry appears to be at the beginning of an exponential growth in modular; Eric Boles – “if you are coasting; you are going downhill”.

Nicole: Anirban Basu provided an engaging keynote session and shared valuable insights into the experienced vs. projected growth of the modular construction industry, the labour market and what the next few years might look like for off-site construction.

Sessions and workshops

Q: Which sessions did you attend and are there any new learnings you wanted to share?

Brandon: One of the best sessions I attended was titled, “Improving MEP and Sustainability through Modular Design” and was presented by Stuart Cameron, Director and MMC Lead at Hive Group. Stuart’s presentation highlighted several case studies where Hive Group had created very detailed BIM models of MEP sub-assemblies for a variety of modular builds throughout the UK. Three key takeaways from the projects were:

  • 95% of MEP installation work was completed within the factory environment.
  • Completed the project 50% quicker than comparable projects, returning equity loans sooner thus savings significant interest costs and getting occupants in buildings sooner.
  • Up to 60% reduction in waste across all disciplines

Beyond this, Stuart highlighted the additional benefits found during the projects, including reduced site traffic and increased health and safety as all workers were working on a level platform and not at height.

Nicole: My favourite session I attended was called, “How off-site gets built globally” presented by Stack Modular. As a professional who is relatively new to the off-site construction industry, I hadn’t heard about the organization or their project delivery before. Stack Modular is a leading manufacturer of modular construction projects, with their manufacturing facilities operating out of China and projects happening around the world (with many in North America). It was so interesting to hear about their approach to modular project delivery on a global scale, the benefits of having their key operations in China and the digital technologies they are leveraging to make these projects possible.

Overall impressions

Q: What about the conference worked for you and what didn’t? What can an attendee expect to takeaway from this?

Brandon: If you work in residential or commercial construction, World of Modular is a place you need to be. For folks interested in modular but cautious to deliver projects using these methods, you will witness many case studies, projects and stories highlighting the benefits of these construction methods on your projects. For folks already in the industry, you will benefit from seeing new and innovative techniques to deliver projects, new products, and be able to connect with like-minded individuals leading to business partnerships and other opportunities.

Jeff: It was motivating to be surrounded by like-minded individuals with great networking opportunities.

Nicole: It was inspiring to see the work that’s being done with modular construction methods around the world, and helpful for me to see what types of project delivery processes have been most effective and the technologies that are allowing large companies to manage these projects. The convention not only offered a wide selection of sessions you could attend, it also provided several networking opportunities. Overall, the event was extremely well done and everything ran seamlessly.

Key takeaways

Q: If you had to choose one takeaway from the weekend, what would it be?

Brandon: The industry has a ton of momentum and there is ample opportunity for growth. Doing so will require the industry to invest in research and development, innovation, and, most importantly, collaboration with peers: “a rising tide lifts all boats.”

Jeff: The industry can move forward as a collective versus competing against each other.

Nicole: My key takeaway came from a breakout session hosted by Windover Construction on the topic “Innovation Design and Coordination Workflow of Modular Projects with Transformational Innovation.” They commented on implementing the “right” amount of technology, and not using technology just for the sake of it. A lot of the work I do with the research centre is working with organizations who want to implement additional digital systems, and hearing the reflections from this construction organization on how they found processes supported by advanced technology that works for them and truly adds value to everyone involved in the process was a perspective I took away from the conference.