On the Road with Amr:  The Path to Prefab in Melbourne, Australia  

on-the-Road-with-Amr-MELBOURNE

We kick off the One the Road series in Melbourne—a city known for being Australia’s “culture capital” and one of the most liveable cities.  

In Melbourne, I visited Eddie Pallotta, Operations Director at SYNC Industries, a company renowned for manufacturing high-quality, customized bathrooms, kitchens, and laundries in large volumes, and Nick van den Berg, the Cofounder & CEO of Fologram, a prominent mixed reality developer. 

As you may recall, I’m interested in understanding how we can pave the way for industrialized construction to become the future standard in our industry.  

Let’s see what they have to say!   

Hitting top gear in industrialized construction  

  SYNC is a prime example of how cross-industry innovation can benefit construction. During my tour, I witnessed skilled workers taking a page from the car fabrication handbook. They created everything in a factory setting and controlled environment, enhancing safety, precision, and efficiency.   

“Innovation means more than just new technologies but also enhancing precision manufacturing principles to become smarter, quicker, and more sustainable,” says Eddie.  

For example, the SYNC team installed all the plumbing elements that belong in a bathroom ceiling right from the factory floor, on ground level. Taking a (literal) step back, a ground-level perspective allows SYNC to see and understand how prefabricated elements fit together as a whole within the rest of the building structure.   

With digital prefabrication methods, SYNC can make sure they are delivering quality building components that perfectly fit within other building elements. And most importantly, compared to a traditional on-site install, this offsite method is much safer than working precariously from a tall ladder or lift while on a construction site.  

As I wrapped up my tour, I noted three ways construction companies could benefit from a set-up like SYNC and Fologram’s:  

  1. Enhanced quality and safety  

Whether they’re crafting car doors or tile floors, manufacturers are making sure each part is given appropriate consideration before shipping it off. In construction, there’s an opportunity to view and design building components like X or Y as standalone, high-quality products.  

For instance, Fologram uses seriously innovative technologies to create augmented and mixed reality for the construction and manufacturing industries. Their CEO, Nick van den Berg, explained how mixed reality is poised to greatly boost the efficiency of prefabricated assemblies. This technology enables automated processes during onsite installation, simultaneously enhancing safety and precision for field teams—all while providing clients and projects substantial time and cost savings.  

“We are very interested in getting whatever you’re designing on the computer…Getting them onto augmented reality devices, such as the HoloLens, and seeing that hologram in the real world and aligning it precisely so you can use it as a fabrication and assembly guide,” says Nick.  

With prefabricated materials or even structures, teams can reduce the time to install and the time they have to work in risky conditions. The payoff is that every part of the product can provide the construction industry with a mindset of delivering high-quality projects with greater efficiency while enhancing worker safety.  

Watch the interview with Fologram’s CEO, Nick van den Berg now.  

2. Empowered architects   

Industrialized construction gives architects more flexibility to design humane spaces within volumetric modular and other prefab structures, which they can customize to peoples’ specific needs.   

On the one hand, we can meet exact design specifications by using digital prefab workflows in BIM, smoothly integrating prefab data (such as Inventor 3D models), and manufacturing-ready solutions (like Fusion workflows). On the other hand, there are many opportunities to get creative with architectural designs and streamline operations by leveraging generative design workflows. 

This transformative shift towards customization enables architects and fabricators to create spaces that authentically align with their vision and the specific demands of each project, breaking free from the constraints of limiting standards and embracing bespoke solutions.  

3. A people-first culture    

Construction firms need to create a people-first culture to be truly successful. When you create a work environment that embraces new creative ideas and promotes inclusivity, you’re recognizing people’s passion, diverse ideas, and technical expertise—making your workforce happy to be at work and strengthening retention. 

Empowering your workforce through continuous development and training within a culture-driven work environment enables construction firms to deliver exceptional projects with heightened efficiencies. Moreover, embracing automation in workflows gives teams more time to focus on what truly matters and learn new skills to enhance their professional growth. 

Offering flexible work schedules for employees contributes to talent retention and improves overall quality of life and work-life balance for everyone involved. This often leads to improved employee performance, not merely out of obligation but because employees genuinely want to excel in their roles. 

Watch the interview with Eddie Pellotta from SYNC now.  

 The innovative integration of robotics, additive manufacturing, and automation drives the path to industrialized construction. As we transition from testing to practical implementation, we gain invaluable insights into enhancing our existing processes and applying these techniques to tackle real project challenges. Our work is shaping the future of construction, with the potential to revolutionize the entire AEC industry from design through construction and facilities management. 

 Prefabrication emerges as a pivotal approach, cultivating a more efficient building process and leaving a positive and enduring impact on our communities. It opens doors to affordable, high-quality housing solutions that benefit society. Industrialized construction redefines how we build, minimizing material waste, reducing energy consumption, and curbing rework. In doing so, we promote sustainable practices and contribute to building a greener, better world for future generations. 

Next, I travel to the Netherlands, where I’ll meet with Dennis Eikenboom, Director at Finish Profiles Group, a leading prefab producer in the Netherlands renowned for 40 years of delivering custom-made, high-quality, prefab construction solutions, known for their exceptional speed and precision.

Amr Raafat

As Chief Innovation Officer at Windover Construction, Amr leverages technology to optimize project delivery. He previously led the virtual design and construction team and the Innovations for Design, Engineering, and Automation, IDEA™ platform providing leading-edge technology services to streamline the construction process. With more than 20 years of experience combining architecture, construction, and engineering, he’s a champion of pioneering construction technologies to streamline project procurement. Amr received the ‘Innovator of the Year’ award as part of the 2019 Autodesk AEC Excellence Awards. He received his master’s degree in architecture from Boston Architectural College.