Prefinished prefabricated volumetric construction – what we can learn from toys and games


Image from ecodaily.org

Lego has finally grown up! For decades, children and adults have been building castles with plastic bricks that even the construction industry has a hard time keeping up with. It seems there has been a lag between imagination and real-world applications. Somehow, Lego has been relegated to the toys industry, and no serious thought had been put to how we use it in the real-world; until now.

Welcome the prefinished prefabricated volumetric construction (PPVC) methodology. It is a huge mouthful to say, but its impact on productivity gains is nothing to scoff at. Using the Lego concept of adding one brick upon another to build a structure, where each “brick” is a self-contained unit that has been prefinished at an off-site and assembled at the main site, this construction method promises to improve productivity (in terms of manpower and time savings) by up to 50%. And since quite a lot of work is done offsite, the safety concerns, noise and dust are significantly reduced at the site. It looks like finally, we are learning from toys and games that we have played with a long time ago.

PPVC is just one example of what we can do when we extend from games to the real world. During the Second World War, the Enigma code was broken because Turing and company looked to people who played crossword puzzles well. Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) are the outgrowth of the model airplanes that we used to fly more than 30 years ago. Games and toys have helped us bridge between imagination and reality for some time now, and we should look to this for even more applications. And we can, if we can embrace these three things:

1. Suspend judgement

Sometimes we pass judgement on games, thinking that it is for kids. We cannot get past the “childish” simplicity of toys, and link them to the adult complexity of the real world. Yet, in most systems, we have found that the best solutions are the simplest ones, and toys and games have found the way to overcome complexity which can help with real-world implementation, only if we can suspend judgement.

2. Make the link between toys and games to the real world

Once we are able to suspend judgement, we can start to see the parallels between the toy and game, and the issues we are trying to solve. There may be a need to extend the thinking from the toy to the application, but that may not be so difficult to do. And after all, the prototype is already there!

3. Go ahead and try it out

With the toy as the prototype, try making it in the real world. Build your solutions with the underlying assumptions of the game, and extend that into the real world. There might have to be some work-arounds, and there might have to be new assumptions, but until and unless we try it, we won’t know.

It is good if we could embrace the world of toys and games to help solve real-world problems and it starts with just these three things. So, do you know how Mastermind success can improve your strategic thinking? This is the subject for another post.

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