Mobile “Factory in a Can” launched by NZ company

Published March 23rd, 2010 - 12:50 GMT

A completely self-contained mobile factory that produces steel frames for construction has been launched today in Dubai at a special industry event by New Zealand company FRAMECAD with support from the country’s national economic development agency, New Zealand Trade and Enterprise.

The FRAMECAD Mobile Factory, dubbed “The Factory in a Can”, is fully self-sufficient and housed in a modified 20 ft shipping container meaning it can be shipped, trucked or airlifted into any location and then made operational within 24 hours of delivery.

With its own diesel generator and computer-operated production the factory manufactures steel frames at the rate of 700 metres per hour, making it an ideal solution for providing housing or commercial buildings quickly and efficiently wherever needed.

Wayne Mikkelsen, NZTE’s Dubai based Trade Commissioner said the “Factory in a Can” is yet another example of New Zealand’s practical innovation and ingenuity.

“New Zealand’s expertise in advanced solutions for residential and commercial buildings is becoming well-known in this region.  Our companies demonstrate a strong emphasis on versatility, innovation and cost efficiency, which appeals here as businesses search for competitive advantage and differentiation.  FRAMECAD’s Mobile Factory is a great example and is receiving a lot of attention wherever it is launched,” he said.

Established in 1989, FRAMECAD has pioneered the development of integrated design and manufacturing of steel framing for building homes, multi storey commercial buildings, factories, warehouses, workforce accommodation and public amenities such as hospitals, schools and community buildings.

Its Chairman, Mark Taylor, has led the company since its inception and been at the centre of the mobile factory’s development.  He commented on the mobile factory’s many benefits in addition to the speed at which it can be deployed.

“One major benefit is the manufacturing of pre-engineered structures that can be produced, assembled and maintained by a local labour force, even where skill levels are low and there is no reliable infrastructure,” he said.

“Also production is computer controlled so every piece of framing produced is numbered and coded so it can be easily assembled. “

“Another significant advantage is the mobile factory helps reduce construction costs because the framing is produced on site instead of having to be transported from a fixed facility.  Transportation costs can also be a big factor when large projects are being developed in remote areas,” he continued. “With the mobile factory, you can get in and get the project started very quickly and of course, once the project is completed, the factory can be relocated to another site.

Quick response disaster relief

Mark Taylor said the mobile factory was originally designed for commercial building companies wanting to build multiple homes in large-scale developments. 

“Since then, events such as the tsunamis in the Pacific Islands and the earthquakes in Indonesia, Haiti and Chile have highlighted the potential for using the factory for disaster relief; we’re already talking to various aid organisations to see how we can work together,” he said.

Prior to the development of the mobile factory, Mark was personally involved in disaster relief activities following the 2006 earthquake in Pakistan.  A hand-picked team from FRAMECAD set up a factory within two days and trained staff on site to design and build relief housing, medical clinics, schools and other much needed facilities.

In the first 12 months following the disaster, one million square feet of buildings were erected using FRAMECAD steel framing. A similar strategy was employed in Indonesia after the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami.

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