Title:
System for production of standard size dwellings using a satellite manufacturing facility
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
The system for manufacturing standard size dwellings comprises a network of facilities, sited to maximize the efficiency of the product and materials flows. In particular, one or more manufacturing facilities are used to manufacture subassemblies and supply materials for use in assembling a standard size dwelling in a factory environment. These manufactured subassemblies and materials are transported to one or more satellite manufacturing facilities, each of which are located proximate to a location where a large number of dwellings are to be built. The satellite manufacturing facilities function to integrate the received subassemblies and materials together to create a standard size dwelling, which is then transported to the foundation where the dwelling is to be sited. The satellite manufacturing facilities can optionally manufacture subassemblies, such as a roof subassembly, where appropriate as part of the dwelling assembly process.



Inventors:
Cohen, David L. (Englewood, CO, US)
Cohen, Roger B. (Lakewood, CO, US)
Application Number:
10/832745
Publication Date:
10/27/2005
Filing Date:
04/26/2004
Assignee:
Intellectual Property, LLC (Denver, CO, US)
Primary Class:
International Classes:
E04B1/35; (IPC1-7): E04H1/00; E04B1/34; E04H1/12; E04H3/00; E04H5/00; E04H6/00; E04H9/00; E04H14/00
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Primary Examiner:
GILBERT, WILLIAM V
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
SQUIRE PB (DC Office) (Washington, DC, US)
Claims:
1. A system for constructing standard size dwellings substantially in their entirety in a factory environment in at least one satellite manufacturing facility that is located remotely from at least one master production facility, said satellite manufacturing facility comprising: at least two subassembly staging areas for receiving said constructed predetermined subassemblies from said at least one master production facility; hoisting means operational in at least one of said subassembly staging areas for transporting said constructed predetermined subassemblies for incorporation into a standard size dwelling being assembled in said satellite manufacturing facility; and wherein said standard size dwelling is transported through said satellite manufacturing facility to assemble said standard size dwelling, using said predetermined subassemblies from said at least two subassembly staging areas.

2. The system for constructing standard size dwellings of claim 1 wherein said hoisting means comprises: at least one crane that traverses said at least one subassembly staging area and a section of a dwelling assembly site for transporting said constructed predetermined subassemblies from said at least one subassembly staging area into said dwelling assembly site for incorporation into a standard size dwelling being assembled in said satellite manufacturing facility.

3. The system for constructing standard size dwellings of claim 1 wherein a first of said subassembly staging areas comprises: means for constructing a floor subassembly comprising an integral base frame for placement on a transport element located in a dwelling assembly site.

4. The system for constructing standard size dwellings of claim 3 wherein a second of said subassembly staging areas receives said constructed predetermined subassemblies from said at least one master production facility comprising a plurality of panelized wall assemblies for assembly on to said floor subassembly located on a transport element located in said dwelling assembly site to create a partially assembled standard size dwelling.

5. The system for constructing standard size dwellings of claim 4 wherein a third of said subassembly staging areas receives said constructed predetermined subassemblies from said at least one master production facility comprising a plurality of panelized wall assemblies for installation in the partially completed standard size dwelling located on a transport element located in said dwelling assembly site.

6. The system for constructing standard size dwellings of claim 5 wherein a fourth of said subassembly staging areas is used to construct a roof subassembly for assembly on to said partially completed standard size dwelling located on a transport element located in said dwelling assembly site.

7. The system for constructing standard size dwellings of claim 4 wherein a third of said subassembly staging areas is used to construct a roof subassembly for assembly on to said partially completed standard size dwelling located on a transport element located in said dwelling assembly site.

8. The system for constructing standard size dwellings of claim 3 wherein said hoisting means, located in said second subassembly staging area, transports finish elements to be installed in a first floor of said standard size dwelling.

9. The system for constructing standard size dwellings of claim 1 wherein said hoisting means comprises: at least one crane that traverses said at least one subassembly staging area and a section of a dwelling assembly site and a subassembly production area that are adjacent said subassembly staging area for transporting said constructed predetermined subassemblies from said at least one subassembly staging area into said dwelling assembly site for incorporation into a standard size dwelling being assembled in said satellite manufacturing facility and into said subassembly production area.

10. The system for constructing standard size dwellings of claim 1 wherein said satellite manufacturing facility further comprises: a roofing subassembly staging area, for constructing a roof subassembly for assembly on to said partially completed standard size dwelling located on a transport element in said satellite manufacturing facility.

11. The system for constructing standard size dwellings of claim 1 wherein said satellite manufacturing facility further comprises: a roofing subassembly staging area, for constructing a roof subassembly for assembly on to said partially completed standard size dwelling located on a transport element external to said satellite manufacturing facility.

12. The system for constructing standard size dwellings of claim 1 further comprising: at least one master production facility located remotely from said satellite manufacturing facility for constructing predetermined subassemblies for said standard size dwelling.

13. A method of constructing standard size dwellings substantially in their entirety in a factory environment in at least one satellite manufacturing facility that is located remotely from at least one master production facility, said satellite manufacturing facility comprising: receiving in at least two subassembly staging areas said constructed predetermined subassemblies from said at least one master production facility; transporting, using hoisting apparatus operational in at least one of said subassembly staging areas, said constructed predetermined subassemblies for incorporation into a standard size dwelling being assembled in said satellite manufacturing facility; and transporting said standard size dwelling through said satellite manufacturing facility to assemble said standard size dwelling, using said predetermined subassemblies from said at least two subassembly staging areas.

14. The method of constructing standard size dwellings of claim 13 wherein said step of transporting, using hoisting apparatus, comprises: transporting, using at least one crane that traverses said subassembly staging area and a section of a dwelling assembly site, said constructed predetermined subassemblies from said subassembly staging area into said dwelling assembly site for incorporation into a standard size dwelling being assembled in said satellite manufacturing facility.

15. The method of constructing standard size dwellings of claim 13 further comprising: constructing, in a first of said subassembly staging areas, a floor subassembly comprising an integral base frame for placement on a transport element located in a dwelling assembly site.

16. The method of constructing standard size dwellings of claim 15 further comprising: receiving, in a second of said subassembly staging areas, said constructed predetermined subassemblies from said at least one master production facility comprising a plurality of panelized wall assemblies for assembly on to said floor subassembly located on a transport element located in said dwelling assembly site to create a partially assembled standard size dwelling.

17. The method of constructing standard size dwellings of claim 16 further comprising: receiving, in a third of said subassembly staging areas, said constructed predetermined subassemblies from said at least one master production facility comprising a plurality of panelized wall assemblies for installation in the partially completed standard size dwelling located on a transport element located in said dwelling assembly site.

18. The method of constructing standard size dwellings of claim 17 further comprising: constructing, in a fourth of said subassembly staging areas, a roof subassembly for assembly on to said partially completed standard size dwelling located on a transport element located in said dwelling assembly site.

19. The method of constructing standard size dwellings of claim 16 further comprising: constructing, in a third of said subassembly staging areas, a roof subassembly for assembly on to said partially completed standard size dwelling located on a transport element located in said dwelling assembly site.

20. The method of constructing standard size dwellings of claim 15 further comprising: transporting, using said hoisting means located in said second subassembly staging area, finish elements to be installed in a first floor of said standard size dwelling.

21. The method of constructing standard size dwellings of claim 13 further comprising: transporting, using said hoisting apparatus that traverses said at least one subassembly staging area and a section of a dwelling assembly site and a subassembly production area that are adjacent said subassembly staging area for transporting said constructed predetermined subassemblies from said at least one subassembly staging area into said dwelling assembly site for incorporation into a standard size dwelling being assembled in said satellite manufacturing facility and into said subassembly production area.

22. The method of constructing standard size dwellings of claim 13 further comprising: constructing a roof subassembly for assembly on to said partially completed standard size dwelling located on a transport element located in said dwelling assembly site.

23. The method of constructing standard size dwellings of claim 13 further comprising: constructing a roof subassembly for assembly on to said partially completed standard size dwelling located on a transport element external to said satellite manufacturing facility.

24. The method of constructing standard size dwellings of claim 13 further comprising: constructing, in at least one master production facility located remotely from said satellite manufacturing facility, predetermined subassemblies for said standard size dwelling.

Description:

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

This invention relates to a system for manufacturing standard size dwellings using a satellite manufacturing facility that can be erected on or near a large housing development to efficiently manufacture standard size dwellings, substantially in their entirety, in a factory environment using subassemblies manufactured at one or more other facilities and/or materials supplied from one or more other sources, prior to transporting and placing these completed dwellings on pre-constructed permanent foundations.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION—THE HOUSING INDUSTRY TODAY

The present residential construction industry can be divided into segments based on the three basic methods which are utilized to produce dwellings: manufactured or modular (manufactured), panelized or component (panelized)—with elements fabricated both on and off site, and individually built (stick-built)—with dwelling construction in-place at a specific building site. Each of these three methods has distinct advantages and disadvantages. In addition, each method is suited to produce a particular type of dwelling. A common goal of the residential construction industry is to produce quality dwellings that have broad market appeal in a cost efficient manner.

The manufactured home is built in a factory which is geographically remote from a housing development or a particular building site. The factory produced modules must be transported over public highways and roadways to a dealership or pre-determined building site. The earliest of this class of homes were called mobile homes. They were, and still are, equipped with axles attached to an undercarriage framework. The typical manufactured home is built in a factory which serves a broad geographic region, ranging in size from tens or hundreds of miles in radius to several states. Because of the cost efficiencies inherent in factory production, the manufactured (and some panelized) method is successful in producing lower cost new housing typically for small size homes which are often in a rural setting. A manufactured home is produced for direct sale to a customer and installation at a particular building site or it may be sold to a dealer and held in inventory for a subsequent sale and installation.

The present-day manufactured home offers significant improvements over the former mobile home. A plurality of manufactured modular segments may comprise the finished home and the modules are transported from a remote factory to a dealership or destination building site. Once delivered to the final building location, the modules are joined together to form a resultant dwelling that is significantly larger than a typical 12′×70′ single module manufactured home.

The major advantage of manufactured homes is the use of a factory environment. Within a factory setting, a controlled environment exists where complete, roadable dwellings are built. Factories represent a significant advantage in mass production efficiency. The advantages of a factory environment are:

    • Dwellings can be produced very quickly from order to finished product.
    • Time savings is a marketing advantage and a source of cost savings in terms of the financing costs associated with the resources tied up in the dwelling.
    • Foul weather has negligible impact on production.
    • Construction tolerances are more precise and more controllable, resulting in better overall product quality.
    • Increased production through multiple shifts is readily achievable because the critical conditions of lighting, ventilation, and air temperatures are controlled 24 hours a day.
    • Non-sequential construction techniques are possible.
    • A Federal (HUD) Building Code can be utilized which offers a streamlined regulatory environment since it is focused on performance standards rather than implementation standards. In addition, homes built to the HUD Building Code are less expensive to produce than stick-built homes which are built to the Uniform Building Code (UBC) or other local building codes.
    • Major cost efficiencies are realized in both the quantity of labor hours necessary to build homes, and the unit cost for labor because of the use of repetitive production tasks. The ability to bulk purchase and handle materials at a fixed manufacturing location also produces major cost efficiencies.

A method of dwelling construction which has similarities to the manufactured dwelling technology is the panelized method of construction. Panelized construction consists of a system for prefabricating walls, floors, and roof components into units or sections. This method of construction is most efficient where there is a repetition of the panel types and dimensions. Panels are manufactured using a jig, into which the framing members are placed and then interconnected via nails, screws, or welds. The interior and/or exterior sheathing, or even the complete interior or exterior finish, may be applied to the wall panel prior to the finished panel being hoisted onto the structure. Shop panelization offers numerous advantages. The panel shop provides a controlled environment where work proceeds regardless of weather conditions. The application of sheathing and finish work is easier and faster with the panels placed in a horizontal position instead of a vertical position.

With panelized construction, major components of homes are either prefabricated in a remote factory environment or at the site where, unfortunately, panel installation is exposed to local weather conditions. If components or panels are built in a factory, they are subsequently transported over public highways and roadways to the building site where they are hoisted into place and interconnected to form the basic dwelling structure using conventional building techniques. The panelized construction technique requires the use of hoisting equipment at the building site to handle the preassembled components and also requires that significant amounts of finish work be performed at the site to assemble components and finish construction joints between panels and then to apply all finishes that were not included in the panels or components.

The major advantages of panelized construction are the following:

    • Cost and production efficiencies of off-site factory panel fabrication.
    • Cost reductions from mass producing panels at a project location can also be realized.
    • Assembly of panels or components is reasonably fast and accelerates the production schedule for homebuilding.
    • Pre-fabricated panels for production of homes in remote regions can be accomplished.

The remaining category of residential housing is the stick-built house that is either custom built according to an owner's individual specifications, or as a builder's spec home, or constructed as one of a plurality of pre-existing models in a housing development. These dwellings are built in the traditional manner of using framing members (typically dimensional lumber) to fabricate the dwelling on a foundation at the building site according to a set of architectural plans. Stick-built home design differs greatly from manufactured home design. There are no architectural, structural, or dimensional limitations with stick-built housing like those imposed on manufactured design by virtue of the roadway transportation limitations. Transportation over public roads involves height, width, length, and weight restrictions. In stick-built construction, height, width, depth, roof pitch, roof overhang, gabled, dormered, etc., are all completely open to individual tastes limited only by the governing building code restrictions. The ability to produce standard size homes with substantial design flexibility is the reason that the majority of homes built today are stick-built homes.

Stick-built construction requires a sequenced building format, where item A must be completed before item B can begin, and in turn, item B must then be completed before item C can begin and so on. For example, the ground level walls must be completed before the second level floor can begin, and the second level walls must be completed before the second level ceiling can begin. The stick-built home industry is primarily based on homebuilding companies which subcontract labor and material packages to a series of independent companies who supply and install their portion of the work. While this method of residential home construction has worked for many years, there are inherent inefficiencies in this method that result in significant cost penalties to the homebuyer.

Stick-built dwellings can be built to any size or layout that is desired within the limitations of the structural capabilities of the framing material. Multi-story homes can easily be built with the architectural features, room size, and layout being determined by the architect, homebuilder, and/or owner. There are no overriding constraints imposed by a need to transport the structure over the existing public highway or roadway system.

Other advantages of stick-built construction techniques are:

    • Ability to build a wide diversity of standard size dwellings (including single and multi-story).
    • Individual customization is easy.
    • Well-known and widely-accepted method of construction.
    • Skilled subcontractors are generally available.
    • Available debt and equity financing sources for homes and projects.

Thus, it is evident that each of the above-noted methods of residential dwelling construction has certain distinct advantages, which advantages are typically intimately coupled with the type of dwelling produced by the selected method of construction.

Problem—Manufactured Construction Methods

While manufactured, panelized and stick-built homes have many advantages in their respective market applications, each of them also has distinct disadvantages. These disadvantages form the core problems which face the housing industry today and, in particular, for the manufactured method:

    • Dimensional and design constraints have confined manufactured homes to a limited market segment.
    • The manufactured method cannot be used to build standard size homes without segmentation of the home into modules of relatively small dimensions which results in design and floor plan compromises.
    • The manufactured modules must be transported a significant distance from the factory to the building site, often via a dealership.
    • Manufactured home segments are subject to significant architectural and floor plan constraints because of the need to transport the completed modules over public highways and roadways.
    • There are significant size limitations in manufactured homes: typically single-story, 10-14 ft. wide by 50-70 ft. long with box-like architecture.
    • The cost of shipping modules from the factory to the destination, placing the modules on to the foundation, field mating the modules together on non-repetitive site conditions in sites often 50 miles from each other, distributing manufactured homes through expensive dealer merchandising organizations, installing final finishes on individual homes with 10% of the work being applied at the remote site, and providing support service over a wide geographic area all aggregate to a significant cost component in these products.
    • There is a possibility for damage to manufactured home modules during extended transport over the public highway system.
    • Manufactured home factories are operationally constrained from serving the stick-built new community home market because these communities often require significant production rates of 4 to 15 homes per month over 2 to 5 years, which would displace production available to the dealer network serving the factory resulting in unacceptable distribution system disruptions.

Problem—Panelized Construction Methods

There are also problems with panelized constructed homes:

    • Field labor is required for field assembly of panels.
    • Less than complete dwelling units are produced, since it is a method to produce only segments of homes, which thereby limits the incremental manufacturing efficiency to only that small portion of the home that is actually constructed in the factory.
    • The panelized method of construction cannot build standard size homes without segmentation of the home into modules of relatively small dimensions which results in many compromises.
    • The finish components and work in a home represent a much higher profit margin component of the job for construction subcontractors. Therefore, finish work remains a subcontractor activity in the field of panelized construction, thereby limiting the cost savings that can be realized by the panelized construction builder with regard to the comparable cost of a stick-built home.
    • The panels or components that are manufactured require major field assembly which takes a significant amount of time and are therefore exposed to local weather conditions.
    • The panels built in a remote plant have size limitations because of the necessity to transport these panels over public highways and roadways.
    • The panelized method of construction only accelerates the framing segment of the construction, which represents only an incremental time savings on what presently is a several week portion of a 3 to 8 month project.
    • The panels must be assembled at the project site, and construction joints between the panels must be repaired and finished at the project site.
    • There is a possibility for damage to panels and components during extended transport and handling.

Problem—Stick-Built Construction Methods

There are also problems in the stick-built method of dwelling construction:

    • Stick-built construction is inherently a sequential home building process—floor are built before walls, walls before ceilings, and the roof after all the other framing is completed. This is a lengthy process and therefore results in construction activity of extended duration.
    • Much of the work done in stick-building a dwelling is at the mercy of local weather conditions which can delay schedules and cause water-related damage to materials, including mold damage.
    • Bulk material delivery and handling are not possible because the materials need to be segregated for each individual home.
    • The materials and supplies are mostly hand carried, piece-by-piece, into and within the house during construction.
    • It is common to have 3 to 8 month construction schedules in stick-built construction of a dwelling, which result in the additional cost of capital and financing for this period of time.
    • Homes must conform to the local building codes, such as the Uniform Building Code (UBC), without any ability to build to the Federal (HUD) Building Code which would be faster, less expensive, and provide an easier regulatory environment.
    • The cost of labor in stick-building is high to thereby attract the necessary skill levels to widely scattered job sites. In addition, there is a hidden cost of the workers having to travel to various and changing job sites for short durations, with the field handling of materials representing another inefficiency and a source of additional defects, which must be corrected at an additional cost.
    • Supervision and quality control in stick-building is non-uniform.

A significant disadvantage of the stick-built dwelling construction technique is that, regardless of the size and/or complexity of the dwelling, these homes are built according to a process that is determined by both building codes and the need for efficiency of the various independent subcontractors that are engaged to construct the dwelling. In particular, each subcontractor wishes to minimize the number of times that he must visit the building site and often prefers unobstructed access to the majority of the structure with limited interference or coordination with other subcontractors. This construction process, especially early on, is highly dependent on weather conditions and can only occur during daylight hours. An interruption in the flow of construction caused by one of the subcontractors has a ripple effect in that the other subcontractors must await the completion of a particular task before they can begin their work. Therefore, while each individual subcontractor task does not necessarily take a lot of time in constructing a stick-built residential dwelling, the time intervals between the arrival of the various subcontractors and delays occasioned by weather and other subcontractor work significantly lengthens the amount of time required to complete each dwelling.

Furthermore, operating in a field environment is detrimental to maintaining the quality of the construction since it is difficult using portable hand tools to precisely cut and assemble framing material into walls and various finish elements with precise tolerances. It is often difficult in stick-built home construction to find a sufficient number of skilled workmen who can craft a residential structure of high quality at very reasonable costs. The quality suffers and there is also a significant amount of waste, since the materials must be handled at least 2 to 3 times between shipment from the factory or mill to being delivered to the individual job site. There is excess labor and significant breakage as a result of this repetitive handling of materials. In addition, typically there aren't people at individual job sites all day to receive materials, so materials and supplies are exposed to the possibility of delivery damage, theft, and bad weather. Surplus materials, unless they represent a significant quantity, are discarded since the value of salvaged materials does not offset the cost involved to salvage these materials.

While the stick-built residential structure is the most desirable residence for consumers because of the design flexibility, the cost benefits obtained by the factory manufacturing environment are unavailable to this type of construction method due to the size and more often than not multi-story nature of these structures.

Solution

The above-described problems are solved, and a technical advance is achieved, by the system for manufacturing standard size dwellings which uses a satellite manufacturing facility that is capable of efficiently producing standard size dwellings in a factory environment. This manufacturing system uses a network of manufacturing facilities to respond to the fundamental desire to maximize home building efficiency by implementing both a factory for and a method of standard size dwelling construction that is of novel design.

The system for manufacturing standard size dwellings comprises a network of facilities, sited to maximize the efficiency of the product and materials flows. In particular, one or more manufacturing facilities are used to manufacture subassemblies and supply materials for use in assembling a standard size dwelling in a factory environment. These manufactured subassemblies and materials are transported to one or more satellite manufacturing facilities, each of which are located proximate to a location where a large number of dwellings are to be built. The satellite manufacturing facilities function to integrate the received subassemblies and materials together to create a standard size dwelling, which is then transported to the foundation where the dwelling is to be sited. The satellite manufacturing facilities can optionally manufacture subassemblies, such as a roof subassembly, where appropriate as part of the dwelling assembly process.

The satellite manufacturing facility is thereby capable of producing standard size dwellings and supplying them to a new community in a cost effective and time efficient manner unlike any construction method of the prior art. The satellite manufacturing facility not only overcomes the problems inherent in the construction methods of the prior art, but also combines the advantages of the three methods of dwelling construction identified previously. Dwellings produced within the satellite manufacturing facility appear to the consumer to be identical to stick-built standard size dwellings. These dwellings have substantial design and architectural flexibility, high volume rooms, modern floor plans, and significant overall living space. The dwellings that can be produced utilizing the satellite manufacturing facility are unlike any manufactured dwellings produced today. These dwellings may include a wide diversity of standard size one- and two-story single family dwellings or various forms of multi-family dwellings.

A major attribute of the satellite manufacturing facility is its ability to build a huge diversity of dwelling products. The only thing required is a community of sufficient size to amortize the cost of the satellite manufacturing facility. This flexibility is essential for international applications because housing design and requirements are vastly different from one region to the next. A common ingredient is that most often in bulk housing requirements, high-quality, low-cost dwellings that can be built in a timely fashion are in demand. In addition, the use of a satellite facility to perform the subassembly integration process removes the constraint of a limited number of dwelling designs from the assembly process, since subassemblies from a number of master production facilities can feed the satellite manufacturing facility, thereby adding to the diversity of dwelling choices available to the consumer.

The satellite manufacturing facility is a specialized manufacturing facility erected proximate to a location where a large number of dwellings are to be built. The satellite manufacturing facility may be linked to this community via a controlled access roadway, where public access can be limited and where width and height impediments may be much less restrictive than public streets and where distances from the satellite manufacturing facilities to the locations at which the assembled dwellings are to be sited are short. As a direct result, the primary problem involving the constraints of the public roadway infrastructure that lie between the factory and the building site for shipment of manufactured or panelized products is overcome. The satellite manufacturing facility brings the factory to the building site. This opens the door to a whole new world of design and construction methodologies for factory-produced dwellings. The overwhelming constraints imposed on dwelling design, size, transportation concerns, etc., due to public roadway transport limitations between a remote factory and the final dwelling site are eliminated.

The dwellings to be produced using the satellite manufacturing facility have special design characteristics. One example is an integral base frame comprising a structural base element located at the perimeter of each dwelling, and at the base of load bearing interior walls, which strengthens and stabilizes these standard size dwellings for manufacturing, transportation, placement on foundations, and long-term durability. One important feature of the satellite manufacturing facility is that the sequential building process necessary with the prior art of stick-built methods for producing standard size dwellings is now obsolete.

Subassembly hoisting equipment, such as clear span bridge cranes, are the key to material handling and transportation in the staging areas in the satellite manufacturing facility. Semi-trucks with loaded trailers may enter the main structure of the satellite manufacturing facility to promote highly efficient unloading and subsequent material handling directly from bulk truck shipments to the staging areas or storage areas via the subassembly hoisting equipment. The hoisting equipment can also place large rolls of carpeting, appliances, cabinets and the like directly inside the partially manufactured dwelling to eliminate excess labor. Large single- or multiple-story wall panels, floor assemblies, large roof assemblies, etc., can be handled in a production setting. Finished components from the staging areas can also be lifted and set directly at each component's final destination in the partially completed house with the hoisting equipment.

The satellite manufacturing facility represents a radical new approach to building standard size dwellings on a large scale basis. The satellite manufacturing facility not only overcomes the problems inherent in the construction methods of the prior art, but also combines the advantages of the three methods of dwelling construction identified previously. The result is that standard size dwellings can be built substantially faster, with higher quality, less cost, and more efficiently than comparable homes built on-site by use of prior art construction methods.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 illustrates a perspective view of a prior art integrated standard size dwelling manufacturing facility sited at a residential housing development;

FIG. 2 illustrates a perspective view of the prior art integrated standard size dwelling manufacturing facility of FIG. 1 with the roof removed therefrom;

FIG. 3 illustrates a typical network of manufacturing facilities used to implement the present system for manufacturing standard size dwellings;

FIGS. 4-6 illustrate typical implementations of the various staging areas contained in a typical embodiment of the satellite manufacturing facility of the present system for manufacturing standard size dwellings;

FIG. 7 illustrates a perspective view of the architecture of a typical transport element used in this manufacturing process and its actual use to transport a standard size dwelling; and

FIG. 8 illustrates a perspective view of a typical integral base frame used in the manufacturing process.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

Glossary

The terms used in this description are defined below to ensure that the proper import is ascribed to these terms and the usage of these terms is therefore unambiguous.

    • Master Production Facility—the facility that builds subassemblies and/or receives materials for processing and/or distribution to Satellite Manufacturing Facilities. The master production facility may or may not be located proximate to a community where the dwellings produced are to be located.

Satellite Manufacturing Facility—the facility described herein which is used to produce standard size dwellings in a hoisting supported production environment, which can comprise one or more enclosed structures or other work areas.

Dwelling—a structure(s), typically comprising either a single family or multi-family home, which is used to house individuals.

Standard size dwelling—a dwelling which constitutes a “normal” or full size dwelling, presently produced on-site by means of stick-building technology. This dwelling has an extensive range of design and floor plan flexibility and includes both one- and two-story single or multi-family structures. The average size, new, normal dwelling built in the United States is about 2,000 square feet in size.

Integral base frame—that structural element which is integral to the base of a satellite manufacturing facility produced standard size dwelling, and provides the foundation upon which the floor and wall framing elements for the dwelling are attached. The integral base frame provides the structural integrity which allows a standard size dwelling to be created in its entirety and moved prior to being located on a permanent foundation. The integral base frame is typically provided at the base of the outside bearing perimeter walls, at interior load bearing walls, at selected other locations, and may be contained within a floor subassembly.

Manufactured home—a home built in a factory environment and transportable over public highways to a building site. These homes include trailer homes, modular homes, and dwellings comprising a plurality of limited size segments that are transported to the building site and which may be joined together.

Panelized home—a dwelling wherein a significant number of components representing a portion of the dwelling are fabricated in a factory environment, then transported over public highways or within the project to the building site where they are assembled to form the basic structure.

    • Stick-built home—a dwelling built in the traditional manner of using dimensional lumber or steel as framing members to fabricate the dwelling on a foundation at the building site according to a set of architectural plans which have available an extensive range of design and floor plan flexibility and includes both one- and two-story structures.
      Manufacturing Facility Network Philosophy

U.S. Pat. No. 6,000,192 titled “Method of Production of Standard Size Dwellings” and U.S. Pat. No. 6,253,504 titled “Manufacturing Facility for Production of Standard Size Dwellings” both disclose an integrated manufacturing facility for manufacturing standard size dwellings in a factory environment. The manufacturing facilities disclosed in these patents manufacture the entirety of the standard size dwelling within the factory and deliver the completed dwelling to the building site, which is located proximate to the manufacturing facility. A problem with this integrated architecture is that the entirety of the manufacturing process is implemented at a single site and the manufacturing facility must be replicated in its entirety at each community where dwellings are to be manufactured.

The present system for manufacturing standard size dwellings comprises a network of facilities, as shown in FIG. 3, sited to maximize the efficiency of the product and materials flows. In particular, one or more master manufacturing facilities are used to manufacture subassemblies for use in assembling a standard size dwelling in a factory environment and/or process and distribute materials. These manufactured subassemblies and materials are transported to one or more satellite manufacturing facilities, each of which are located proximate to a location where a large number of dwellings are to be built. The satellite manufacturing facilities function to integrate the received subassemblies and materials together to create a standard size dwelling, which is then transported to the foundation where the dwelling is to be sited. The satellite manufacturing facilities can optionally manufacture subassemblies, such as a roof subassembly, where appropriate as part of the dwelling assembly process. In this manner, a plurality of less costly satellite manufacturing facilities can be used in conjunction with one or more master production facilities to maximize home building efficiency and economy.

Prior Art Manufacturing Facility for Production of Standard Size Dwellings

FIG. 1 illustrates a perspective view of the prior art manufacturing facility described in the above-noted patents, which is sited at a residential housing development, and FIG. 2 illustrates a perspective view of the prior art manufacturing facility of FIG. 1 with the roof removed therefrom. The manufacturing facility 100 disclosed therein comprises a building of sufficient size to encompass the dwelling production operation and of height to provide sufficient clearance for the constructed dwelling, which is typically 30 feet to 40 feet in height. The manufacturing facility has two large doorways in the end thereof 101, 102, with a first doorway 101 as shown in FIG. 1 being on the leftmost side of the building and used to provide transport element ingress to the manufacturing facility 100. A second large exterior door 102 is located on the opposite side of the end wall of the building and is used to provide ingress to delivery vehicles which are providing the raw materials to a delivery alley, located within the manufacturing facility, for the assembly of the residential structures that takes place within the manufacturing facility 100.

By collapsing the linear structure of traditional residential housing production into a substantially volumetric process, and relocating the partially completed structure from one subassembly production line of the manufacturing facility 100 to another, a significant amount of flexibility in the scheduling of the work can be attained by intermixing finished, roughed-in, and feature work into concurrently extant operations within the same structure.

A completed standard size dwelling D can be seen in FIG. 1 departing from the manufacturing facility 100 through an exit door 105 (FIG. 2) located on the far side of the manufacturing facility 100. The exit door 105 is sized to enable the movement of the completed standard size dwelling D, mounted on the transport element to be moved from the manufacturing facility. FIG. 1 also illustrates a completed standard size dwelling D traversing a path through the community to a building site B that has a foundation in place and at which building site B a crane C awaits the arrival of the standard size dwelling D. When the standard size dwelling D reaches the building site B, the crane C is used to lift the completed standard size dwelling D off the transport element T and to place the structure D on the pre-existing foundation where it is secured in place. Alternatively, the pre-existing foundation can be a three-sided structure and the transport element can enter the basement area of the foundation where the transport element can be removed from under the completed dwelling as the dwelling is set on the foundation.

The transport elements T shown in FIG. 1 typically comprise a “trailer” or “frame” that is equipped with a roadable apparatus, such as sufficient number of axles and wheels to support the weight of the completed standard size dwelling D. The bed of the trailer T is of extent great enough to securely support the completed standard size dwelling D, which is built in stages on the transport element T as the transport element T is moved from the ingress doorway 101 of the manufacturing facility 100 to the egress doorway. A tow vehicle, such as a tractor, is used to move the transport element T and the completed standard size dwelling D from the egress doorway of the manufacturing facility 100 to the building site B and thence to return the transport element T to a parking area adjacent the manufacturing facility 100 for use in a subsequent residential structure assembly.

The community can be occupied in stages as the standard size dwellings are manufactured and sited. Public access to the community is typically selected at a location distant from the manufacturing facility 100, such that dwellings are sited from this juncture incrementally to the manufacturing facility 100. The manufacturing facility 100 makes use of temporary roadways R, which are restricted from public use and are available to transport the completed standard size dwellings D from the manufacturing facility 100 to the building site B. As sections of the roadways R are filled with completed dwellings, these sections can be converted from restricted/controlled access construction use to public use.

The siting of the manufacturing facility 100 is such in the particular environment illustrated in FIG. 1 that the completed standard size dwellings D traverse roads R internal to the development and therefore do not have to contend with existing public roadways with their size and weight limitations, power lines, bridges, and existing traffic. It is also possible to erect the manufacturing facility 100 at a site that requires the use of existing public roads, which is feasible as long as the portions of the existing roadway that are used are free of obstructions and can be monopolized during the movement of a completed standard size dwelling D.

Prior Art Manufacturing Facility Architecture

The economic viability of the prior art manufacturing facility 100 is a function of the efficiency with which it can produce the residential structures, since the efficiency must offset the cost of erecting the manufacturing facility 100 at a particular housing development site. It is obvious that the benefit afforded by this manufacturing facility 100 is a function of the number of building sites B, the incremental cost savings associated with each unit manufactured, and the speed with which these sites can be populated with residential structures. The manufacturing facility 100 achieves its efficiency by collapsing the linear, mutually exclusive building trades operation of the prior art into an intensive volumetric focus in the residential structure assembly process. This difference in assembly philosophy as well as the use of hoisting elements that are used in the manufacturing facility 100 provides the efficiencies and “automation” that assist in making this project cost-effective. Furthermore, the unique integral base frame that is used as the underpinnings of each standard size dwelling D that is assembled not only enables the completed structure to be constructed, transported, and placed on an irregular field poured concrete foundation but also provides a base for the standard size dwelling D that is of greater stability and rigidity than existing methods of manufacture.

The manufacturing facility 100 is oriented as shown in FIG. 2 which is a perspective view of the manufacturing facility 100 with the roof removed therefrom. In this regard, the first subassembly production line P1 produces an integral base frame which is positioned on a transport element T. The second P2 and third P3 subassembly production lines build and subsequently relocate the preassembled panel subassemblies, including two-story high wall panels, onto the floor subassembly. The fourth subassembly production line P4 produces and places a full size roof subassembly onto the partitions previously produced and installed in the partially completed standard size dwelling D.

With reference to FIG. 2, the manufacturing facility 100 shows the use of a plurality of parallel oriented juxtaposed subassembly production lines P1-P5, each of which is used to create subassemblies and/or to provide warehousing of materials that are used in the construction process. Orthogonal to and aligned at one end of this plurality of subassembly production lines is a “delivery alley” DA through which the delivery vehicles pass to deliver the raw materials that are used in the standard size dwelling assembly process. The delivery alley DA typically extends the full length of the manufacturing facility 100 and is of sufficient dimensions that delivery vehicles can drive through the manufacturing facility 100 to park adjacent the subassembly production line which is the destination for the materials provided by the delivery vehicle. A hoisting element H* integral to that subassembly production line P* is then able to quickly offload the raw materials from the delivery vehicle and the delivery vehicle then exits the manufacturing facility 100 at an egress door 106 distal from the ingress door 102 through which it entered the manufacturing facility 100.

Juxtaposed to and orthogonal to the plurality of subassembly production lines P1-P5 and at the end thereof opposite the delivery alley DA is a dwelling assembly alley HA wherein the raw materials and subassemblies produced in each subassembly production line P* are assembled in an integrated manner into the standard size dwelling D. Each subassembly production line P* takes raw materials and either produces subassemblies that are lifted by the hoisting elements H* onto the standard size dwelling D that is being assembled or provides a warehousing capability for the various raw materials that are used to create the standard size dwelling D.

The specific details of each subassembly production line P* are a matter of design choice and somewhat dictated by the architecture of the standard size dwellings D that are being assembled in the manufacturing facility 100. Suffice it to say that each subassembly production line P* is responsible for the complete construction of a volumetric section of the standard size dwelling D or is used to complete the finished work within the standard size dwelling D that has been largely completed at the prior stages of the construction process.

In the first subassembly production line P1, a floor subassembly is produced and loaded on the transport element T. The floor subassembly includes an integral base frame which strengthens the floor subassembly to allow for the construction, transportation and setting of the standard size dwelling D on its foundation. In the second P2 and third P3 subassembly production lines, continuing to the right from the first subassembly production line P1, large wall panels are framed, sheet rocked, finished, painted and inventoried on racks prior to installation on the appropriate floor subassembly. Windows and doors are installed in the panelized wall subassemblies in the second P2 and third P3 subassembly production line. In the fourth subassembly production line P4, full size roof subassemblies are fabricated on the floor of the manufacturing facility 100 and then hoisted and placed on the framed partially completed standard size dwelling D by the bridge crane H4. Finish work, including panel joint finishing, cabinets, floor covering, fixtures, etc., begins in the second subassembly production line P2, continues through the fourth subassembly production line P4 and is the primary activity implemented in the fifth subassembly production line P5.

A strategic accomplishment of the manufacturing facility 100 is to provide a large scale factory in which multiple subassembly production lines P* exist and which can be utilized to produce incremental aspects of a standard size dwelling D. Some fundamental considerations are that the manufacturing facility 100 makes bulk materials available to all of the subassembly production lines P*, which capability is provided in the embodiment shown herein by the delivery alley DA, which serves all the subassembly production lines P*. A second consideration is that a plurality of subassembly production lines P* are used, each of which produces a distinct increment of the standard size dwelling D. A dwelling assembly alley HA is used to relocate the partially completed standard size dwelling D from one subassembly production line P* to the next sequential subassembly production line P* typically via the transport element T on which the standard size dwelling is constructed. A third consideration is the use of high capacity hoisting elements H* in the subassembly production lines P* to allow for the unloading and movement of bulk materials and for the construction and handling of large subassemblies, including the installation of the subassemblies in a partially completed standard size dwelling D.

Hoisting Elements

Efficiency of operation of the manufacturing facility 100 is in part achieved through the use of hoisting elements H* that enable the movement of large volumes of materials or large subassemblies that are efficiently produced within the manufacturing facility 100. The hoisting elements H* minimize the hand labor since they are used to pick and place raw materials, individual subassemblies, and to pre-stock materials, such as cabinets, flooring, plumbing fixtures, in the partially completed standard size dwellings.

As can be seen from the perspective view of FIG. 2, the manufacturing facility 100 is housed within a steel frame building that uses a plurality of steel bents to support the roof as well as the hoisting elements H* that are part of the manufacturing facility 100. The bents are aligned with the boundaries of each subassembly production line P* and are of sufficient structural integrity to also support the hoisting elements H* and the loads which they service. The bents are typically supported by a plurality of columns, located at regular intervals along the length of the bent, with a free span being provided across the width of the dwelling assembly alley HA as well as the delivery alley DA. For example, the dwelling assembly alley HA must be dimensioned to accommodate the full extent of the completely assembled standard size dwelling D. These dimensions would typically be a 30-40 foot floor to bent clearance and a support column to support column free span of approximately 60 feet. The steel bent construction specifics of such a building are well known and are not discussed in detail herein. The rails that support the hoisting elements H* are attached to the columns and can also be hung from the bents in the clear span area to provide support for the rails where the span between columns is greater than otherwise would be allowable for the load bearing capacity of the rails.

There can be multiple hoisting elements H* in each subassembly production line P*, with the hoisting capacity of these hoisting elements H* being individually sized to the task being performed in the associated subassembly production line P*. The area of coverage by the hoisting elements H* within a subassembly production line P* can overlap so that each hoisting element H* has a sufficient range of travel to provide the greatest flexibility in use in that subassembly production line P*, thereby enabling tasks to be performed by one hoisting element when the other hoisting element is occupied performing another task.

Architecture of the Satellite Manufacturing Facility

The integrated production of standard size dwellings in a single manufacturing facility that is illustrated in FIGS. 1 & 2 is segmented in the present system for manufacturing standard size dwellings, which comprises a network of facilities, as shown in FIG. 3, sited to maximize the efficiency of the product and materials flows. A portion of the manufacturing and assembly processes is implemented in the satellite manufacturing facilities 300-303, each of which is sited at a respective residential housing development, and some or all of the subassembly manufacturing processes and materials preparation/handling are implemented in the one or more master production facilities 311-312. A description of typical subassembly production processes are contained in the above-noted U.S. Pat. No. 6,000,192 titled “Method of Production of Standard Size Dwellings” and U.S. Pat. No. 6,253,504 titled “Manufacturing Facility for Production of Standard Size Dwellings,” and will not be reproduced herein for simplicity of description. What is described herein are the various architectures and implementations of the satellite manufacturing facility 300 that can be used to utilize the subassemblies and materials produced at the master production facilities 311-312. The satellite manufacturing facilities 300-302 use hoisting apparatus to efficiently handle subassemblies and materials to assemble a dwelling at the satellite location, which is proximate to the location at which the assembled dwelling will be installed.

The master production facilities 311-312 function to manufacture subassemblies and prepare materials for use in the plurality of satellite manufacturing facilities 300-302. A master production facility 311 can supply all of the subassemblies and materials used by a satellite manufacturing facility 301 or can provide a subset of the subassemblies and materials used by a satellite manufacturing facility 300, 302. In addition, the plurality of satellite manufacturing facilities 300-302 may receive materials and/or subassemblies from other sources for use in the dwelling manufacturing process. Each of the implementations of the satellite manufacturing facility 300 comprise one or more staging areas, into which are transported the subassemblies produced by the master production facilities 311-312 and/or which are used to create subassemblies, and/or which are used to stage finish materials. The staging areas disclosed in FIGS. 4-6 are shown as examples of the geometries that can be used to implement the production process, but these are simply examples and other configurations can be used to implement the present system for manufacturing standard size dwellings, as defined by the attached claims.

Each satellite manufacturing facility 300-302 is typically located as shown in FIG. 1, which depicts a variety of the dwellings which can be constructed, including single family detached homes S as well as three-story multi-family units M, to illustrate the flexibility of the production capabilities of the satellite manufacturing facilities. The multi-story dwellings M can be produced as a combination of a two-story component with an overall floor area of a standard size dwelling, with a similarly sized single story component produced for the third floor and placed on top of the two-story component by a crane. As shown in FIG. 1, each manufacturing facility is erected in close proximity to a large number of building sites B, some of which are shown in FIG. 1 as having residences sited thereon, others having foundations pre-constructed in place and others outlined as lots with no construction work having taken place.

FIGS. 4-6 illustrate typical implementations of the various staging areas contained in a typical embodiment of the satellite manufacturing facility 300 of the present system for manufacturing standard size dwellings. In these Figures, a plurality of staging areas are disclosed and the functions implemented in these staging areas may be combined, modified, eliminated as the needs of the dwelling being produced and the economies of the process may dictate. The number and nature of the process steps disclosed herein are mapped to those disclosed in the above-noted patents for simplicity of understanding of the architectures disclosed herein, since the detailed descriptions contained in these patents may be used for illustration. It is envisioned that the staging areas P1-P5 and the locations L1-L5 simply represent a sensible allocation of the space of the satellite manufacturing facility 300 for the purposes required to handle materials and subassemblies and to assemble the dwelling.

Transport Element

FIG. 7 illustrates in perspective view a typical transport element T that is used to support the standard size dwelling D as it is assembled in the satellite manufacturing facility 300 and transported from this facility to a permanent site. The transport element T, as shown in a typical embodiment in FIG. 7, comprises a rectangular frame formed of a plurality of rigid interconnected supporting members T1-T5. A number of the supporting members T1-T4 form the substantially rectangular exterior frame and the remaining supporting member T5 forms an interior supporting member. A standard size dwelling is shown in dotted line outline form placed on the transport element T to illustrate the size and extent of the transport element T with respect to a standard size dwelling. The typical supporting members T1-T5 are shown as steel I-beams of sufficient capacity to support the standard size dwelling. Three of the supporting members T1, T3, T5 are shown equipped with wheel assemblies W to thereby enable the transport element T to be repositioned within the satellite manufacturing facility 300 and thence to the building site with the standard size dwelling placed on the transport element. FIG. 7 also illustrates a towing hitch PH affixed to one end of the substantially rectangular frame formed of supporting members T1-T5 to thereby enable a tow vehicle to connect to the transport element T and perform the transportation function.

It is obvious that a number of alternative embodiments of the transport element T can be devised, such as having axles span the entire width of the transport element, as a function of the performance characteristics required for the specific implementation of the satellite manufacturing facility 300 as well as the nature of the path that the transport element may take to the building site. It is also envisioned that the wheel assemblies W can be made removable from the frame formed of supporting members T1-T5. Thus, it is possible that the transport element can comprise the integral base frame FF of the structure itself, with the wheel assemblies W initially installed thereto to facilitate the movement of the standard size dwelling through the manufacturing process and delivery to the building site. Once installed at the building site, the standard size dwelling no longer requires the wheel assemblies W, and these can be removed for reuse in the manufacturing of another standard size dwelling. Also, the wheel assemblies W can be interchanged so that a separate set is used to move the standard size dwelling D to the building site. The wheel assemblies W may also be dispensed with in the factory if the foundation frame is used as part of a rail system.

Integral Base Frame Architecture

The integral base frame is that structural element which is integral to the base of a satellite manufacturing facility produced standard size dwelling, and provides the foundation upon which the floors and vertical framing elements for the dwelling are attached. The integral base frame allows a standard size dwelling to be created in its entirety and moved prior to being located on a permanent foundation. The integral base frame is typically provided at the base of the outside bearing perimeter walls, at interior load bearing walls, at selected other locations and may be contained within a floor subassembly.

In the satellite manufacturing facility, the standard size dwelling is built with an integral base frame to enable the simple relocation of the partially built dwelling within the satellite manufacturing facility and eventually to a permanent foundation at the dwelling site. The dwelling can also be later moved without significant complexity, since the structure incorporates the integral base frame and can be relocated to another permanent foundation.

Thus, the standard size dwelling built in the satellite manufacturing facility is substantially built “in space” rather than “in place”. For this to be possible, the initial step in the manufacturing process requires the use of the integral base frame which establishes a solid point of beginning and provides a dimensionally stable foundation. The integral base frame thereby provides structural integrity to the base of the satellite manufacturing facility manufactured dwelling, which enables the dwelling to exist in space without continuous additional support to enable the standard size dwelling to be manufactured, transported and placed on a permanent foundation as an integral, self-supporting and rigidized structure. The integral base frame distributes vertical loads downward from the wall sections to the transport element and upward from the transport element to the load bearing walls. The integral base frame also provides a dimensionally stable flat surface on which the floor and wall elements can be added and can be manufactured from light gauge steel, standard steel sections, wood, concrete, plastic, or other suitable materials.

FIG. 8 illustrates in perspective view a typical architecture of the integral base frame assembly FF that is used in the standard size dwelling manufacturing process. In particular, the integral base frame FF is the element that circumscribes the entirety of the standard size dwelling D and provides the support and stability to enable the entire completed structure to be relocated by a crane C or by beams and rollers from a transport element T to the preassembled foundation at the building lot B. In order to accomplish this function, the integral base frame FF comprises a set of steel beams, such as I-beams or steel tubes, which are assembled into a framework that conforms to the foundation. The I-beams or steel tubes, as shown in FIG. 8, are assembled by welding together or bolting to form a framework onto which a floor joist assembly FJ can be fabricated. Additional precut I-beams or steel tubes are positioned to cap the open ends of the partially assembled integral base frame FF and complete an entire section of the floor subassembly. The joists FJ are secured to the integral base frame FF via welds, bolts, screws, shot pins and the like, at points where one of the steel joists FJ meet a corresponding point of the integral base frame FF. The dimensions of the integral base frame FF and the joists FJ are preferably selected so that the joists snugly fit within the “pocket” created by the cross-section of the integral base frame elements and the capped integral base frame FF creates a resultant dimensionally stable and rigid floor subassembly. The floor sheathing FS, as shown in FIG. 8, is placed to expose a length of the joists FJ sufficient to fit within the pocket provided by the integral base frame FF, so the assembled floor subassembly does not include any voids between the floor sheathing FS and the integral base frame FF. Alternatively, the steel tubes may be used to create an integral frame on top of which the floor joists are placed, where they are easy to install and articulate into flexible forms.

Satellite Facility Configurations

FIGS. 4-6 represent several configurations of the satellite manufacturing facility 300. By collapsing the linear structure of traditional residential housing production into a substantially volumetric process, and relocating the partially completed structure within the satellite manufacturing facility 300 from one location to another, a significant amount of flexibility in the scheduling of the work can be attained by intermixing finished, roughed-in and feature work into concurrently extant operations within the same structure.

FIG. 4 illustrates a typical linear flow of the manufacturing process where the dwelling is assembled in a plurality of stages, with each location L1-L5 in the satellite manufacturing facility 300 being served by an associated staging area P-P5, or in some cases a single staging area P5 can serve several locations L4A, L5 as shown in FIG. 4. In this process, the roof subassembly is shown as being manufactured on site at the satellite manufacturing facility 300, rather than being delivered as a complete subassembly, due to the typical size of a roof subassembly. In order to illustrate this capability, the roof subassembly is implemented in a plurality of stages in locations L4A, L4B, which feed the final roof install location L4 where the completed roof subassembly is placed on the framed partially constructed dwelling that has been moved from location L3 to location L4. The dwelling is assembled in stages, at each of locations L1-L5, and the collection of these locations L1-L5 is termed an assembly alley HA herein for convenience herein. There need not be a dedicated assembly alley, and the location of the dwellings in their various stages of completion can be determined by the availability and implementation of the various hoisting apparatus used to move, lift and place the base frame, floor subassemblies, wall subassemblies, prefabricated kitchen/bathroom modules, roof subassembly, and any other components or materials. Thus, the use of a dwelling assembly alley HA is simply an illustration to demonstrate a typical configuration and is not a limitation on the implementation of the satellite manufacturing facility.

The sequence of process steps (described below) and the siting of the various functions illustrated in FIG. 4 are for illustration and not intended to limit the concepts disclosed herein. In particular, for a single story dwelling, there would not be the need for a second floor assembly process at location L3, and much of the finish work may be implemented at location L3 instead of and/or in addition to location L5. Furthermore, the roof subassembly construction may be implemented external to the building that houses other portions of the dwelling assembly, with the roof being installed on the partially assembled dwelling either within or external to the building that houses other portions of the dwelling assembly, with the external installation reducing the height requirement of the building. Similarly, the finish work shown as being implemented at location L5 can be done within another building, external to a building, and possibly at a site distant from the building that houses other portions of the dwelling assembly.

The linear flow of the process shown in FIG. 4 can be implemented in the configuration shown in FIG. 5, where multi-purpose staging areas P1-P2 serve dwelling assembly L1, L2 and roof subassembly fabrication L4B, L4A locations. Staging areas P3 and P5 serve locations L3 and L5, respectively to provide subassemblies and materials for the process steps implemented therein. The dwelling assembly takes place at various locations within the satellite manufacturing facility 300 and this configuration can even be used to support two dwelling assembly processes, where locations L4B, L4A, L4 are used for the functions designated for locations L1-L3, while location L5 comprises a location where the roof subassembly is fabricated. In this instance, the roof install can take place at locations L3, L4 and the dwelling can exit the satellite manufacturing facility 300 for finish work and installation at the dwelling's permanent location.

FIG. 6 illustrates a single linear flow of the dwelling assembly process, where the roof subassembly can take place in staging area P4, for installation at location L4. Alternatively, the staging areas P1-P5 can each be used for the complete assembly of a dwelling in the associated locations L1-L5, rather than relocating a partially assembled dwelling between locations L1-L5. Thus, in the configuration shown in FIG. 6, five dwellings can be simultaneously assembled.

In all of these configurations, and others naturally derived from these configurations, hoisting apparatus are used to move, lift and place the base frame, floor subassemblies, wall subassemblies, prefabricated kitchen/bathroom modules, roof subassembly, and any other components or materials. The centralized fabrication of subassemblies and/or the processing of materials into “cut lengths” and/or the staging of components and materials at the master manufacturing facilities 311, 312 provides economic and efficiency advantages, where the master manufacturing facilities 311, 312 can feed numerous satellite manufacturing facilities 300-302, where the assembly of the dwelling takes place, using hoisting apparatus to implement this process. The following description of the various staging areas refers to the specific configuration illustrated in FIG. 4, although the concepts articulated therein are applicable to other configurations.

First Staging Area

The first staging area P1 of the satellite manufacturing facility 300 is primarily used to create the floor subassembly, which as a minimum includes the residential integral base frame described above, and can also include the floor joist assembly and sub-flooring as described above. The floor platform subassemblies are then typically placed on to beams and rollers of the transport element T that is positioned in the dwelling assembly alley HA of the satellite manufacturing facility 300. An integral base frame assembly staging area may be included in the first staging area P1 and the partially assembled integral base frames are used to create a subassembly of floor joists, with insulation, wiring, plumbing installed therein and the overlay of floor sheathing installed thereon. The floor joist subassemblies are transported and placed on the transport element T in a predetermined position and interconnected with other (if any) frames produced to create a complete floor subassembly.

Second Staging Area

The second staging area P2 of the satellite manufacturing facility 300 is primarily used to fabricate the exterior walls and first floor interior walls of the standard size dwelling D. A wall panel assembly staging area is included in the second staging area P2 to store subassemblies of an exterior or interior wall, with insulation, wiring, plumbing, windows, doors installed therein as desired. Workers can tape drywall seams, finish the drywall, and paint the wall subassembly, if not already done. The finished wall subassembly is then relocated to storage racks located in the second staging area P2 or directly placed in position and secured in the dwelling D being assembled in the dwelling assembly alley HA in a predetermined position and interconnected with other wall subassemblies to create a complete framed and subfloored structure assembly.

The exterior finish may not be present on the exterior walls to thereby enable the workers to access the various utilities that are run through the walls. As wall segments are joined, the utilities pre-installed therein must be interconnected, and this can be done via access from the exterior (or top) of the wall, rather than the interior as is presently done. The multitude of subsystems that comprise a dwelling are treated as an integrated system with the progression of construction of each subsystem coordinated with the various other systems to ensure coherent construction of the dwelling in an efficient manner.

At this juncture, to increase the speed of manufacture, reduce the handling of materials, cabinet assemblies, doors, windows, floor coverings etc. can be pre-stocked in the shell of the standard size dwelling D. The pre-stocking enables the workers at later stages of assembly to have the necessary materials already situated within the standard size dwelling D, via hoisting element H2, to enable the workers to perform finish work concurrently with the second story and the roof being assembled and installed on the standard size dwelling D. The materials, such as drywall, can be of dimensions greater than typically used since the hoisting element H2 can be used to transport these materials, rather than depending on the workers to handle each piece individually, with the size of the materials being dictated by the physical limitations of the workers.

Third Staging Area

The third staging area P3 is predicated on the presumption that the standard size dwelling being manufactured is a two story dwelling. Obviously, if one story dwellings are being manufactured, the third staging area P3 as described herein may be deemed to be unnecessary. The equipment (such as hoisting apparatus H3) and work areas of the third staging area P3 are similar to those of the second staging area P2.

Fourth Staging Area

The fourth staging area P4 of the satellite manufacturing facility 300 is primarily used to fabricate, relocate and install the roof subassembly of the standard size dwelling D. This staging area, if used to manufacture a roof subassembly may comprise a series of areas P4A-P4C, each of which is used to fabricate a portion of the roof subassembly or a plurality of roof subassemblies. The roof fabrication can be implemented external to the building that houses the satellite manufacturing facility. The equipment and work areas of the fourth staging area P4 typically comprise at least one raw material processing stage. In particular, standard lengths of framing members and roof truss members are delivered to the fourth staging area P4.

A roof subassembly staging area is included in the fourth staging area P4. The roof subassembly is then hoisted into place on top of the framed shell of the two story structure and thus must be constructed somewhat differently from existing roof designs. In particular, since a crane H4 (such as an overhead crane) “picks and places” the entire roof subassembly, the trusses used to fabricate the roof subassembly must be designed to support both dynamic and static traditional roof loads, supported by the frame of the house, as well as to be capable of supporting the weight of the assembled roof when it is being hoisted. Therefore, the roof trusses must be designed to account for compression and tension loads in all conditions. The overhead crane H4 transports the completed roof subassembly from the roof subassembly fabrication areas L4B, L4A to the dwelling assembly alley HA where it is placed on the framed structure, which was installed on the transport element T at the first P1 through third P3 staging areas of the satellite manufacturing facility 300, in a predetermined position and interconnected with the interior and exterior wall staging areas to create a complete enclosed standard size dwelling D.

The fabrication of the roof subassembly on the roof subassembly fabrication areas results in a reduced assembly time, since working on ground level is easier, safer and more efficient than constructing the roof in place on the framed two story dwelling as is presently done in the stick building technology.

Fifth Staging Area

The fifth staging area P5 of the satellite manufacturing facility 300 is used to perform all remaining finish work that was not completed in the previous manufacturing stages. In this regard, the fifth staging area P5 may not strictly be termed a staging area since no subassembly is produced therein, but instead, in the preferred embodiment of the satellite manufacturing facility 300, it is used as a storage and staging area where the pre-stocking materials, such as floor covering, are stored and cut to size for transportation to the appropriate staging area for insertion into the partially competed dwelling located in the dwelling assembly alley HA, as described above. Therefore, the finish work includes any remaining painting, installation of plumbing fixtures, electrical outlets, trim work, appliance installation, etc. Additional exterior work that was not previously completed is now done, such as gutters, roofing, flashing, exterior trim painting, etc. The materials for these activities can be stored in a plurality of rows of high bay storage racks. The materials handled in the fifth staging area P5 of the satellite manufacturing facility 300 may be more adapted to processing using a forklift truck rather than an overhead crane. In addition, the dwelling assembly alley HA may not be contiguous with the fifth staging area P5, since there is not necessarily any relocation of large bundles of materials to the dwelling at this stage of production. Therefore, the dwelling can even be moved at this juncture to a section of the building remote from the staging areas P1-P4, or “off-site” external to the building to another enclosed structure, or even in an open area outside.

SUMMARY

The benefits of the satellite manufacturing facility are that the standard size dwellings produced in the satellite manufacturing facility represent significant advances from what is produced by the housing industry today. It is achieved by collapsing the traditional sequential building process into a small finite number of steps, each of which is implemented in a predetermined staging area of the facility somewhat independent of, yet in close coordination with, the building activity that takes place in the other staging areas of the facility.