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Revolutionising Disaster Response with Modern Modular Construction


Written by David Bolton, Executive General Manager at Fleetwood Australia.

Globally, disaster relief is a major and ongoing issue and at Fleetwood, we’re passionate about helping those in need. This past week, I spoke at Sydney Build Expo 2024 to discuss how Fleetwood’s modular construction solutions can help when emergencies arise.

In construction, the term “modular” can cause flashbacks of 80’s demountable classrooms – construction that felt about as aspirational as a shipping container. However, today’s modern modular construction is far from its predecessors. It’s a revolution; reimagining how we build fast, innovative solutions.

At Fleetwood, we are lucky enough to be at the forefront of this revolution. Our vertically integrated teams manage a range of projects from many different sectors, worth over $300 million annually. But beyond the numbers lies a fundamental shift in perception. Modern modular construction isn’t just about functionality; it’s about high-end architectural design quality and versatility.

We build our structures to be sleek and stylish yet incredibly robust, capable of withstanding the harshest of Australian conditions. And this robust nature is needed now more than ever, with natural and economic disasters on the rise across Australia.
From initial design to on-site construction, our process is streamlined and compliant, ensuring a high level of quality every step of the way. But when we’re talking about disaster relief, it’s these three key advantages that set us apart from traditional builds:

  • Rapid response
    Speed is of the essence in disaster recovery and emergency response. At Fleetwood, we can build or replace structures after disasters more quickly than you might imagine. Under normal circumstances, our projects can be delivered up to 50% faster than traditional methods, thanks to simultaneous factory and on-site work. Rain delays become a thing of the past and productivity soars as crew are able to work at maximum efficiency in a factory environment.
  • Solving material and labour scarcity 
    Modular is often used in situations where materials and labour are scarce. Logistics are simplified, with the majority of construction occurring in a controlled factory environment. This not only reduces supply chain complexities but also allows for rapid scaling and deployment in response to emergencies.
  • Reducing, reusing and recycling
    But perhaps the most significant advantage lies in sustainability. Modern modular construction yields a 30%-90% reduction in waste, with leftover materials repurposed for subsequent builds or emergency response efforts. Unlike traditional construction, modular buildings are assets that can be redeployed, reused and refurbished, ensuring longevity and efficiency in the face of multiple crises.

At Fleetwood, we’ve put this to the test time and time again. In real-life scenarios, like building new classrooms at Mount Gravatt School in just 3 days or replacing Manly State School after damaging storms last xmas, our modern modular construction has proven its worth time and again. We respond to the urgent needs of clients with speed, efficiency and sustainability. It’s a testament to the power of innovation in an ever-changing world, where resilience is not just a goal but a necessity.