Robotic modular factory planned for Idaho as US prefab investment rises

Amid a surge of investment in offsite manufacturing in the US, plans have been announced for a large, robotic, volumetric modular factory in Nampa, Idaho.

Its promoter, the modular consultant Prefab Logic, said it would be "a revolutionary, first-of-its-kind factory that will set an entirely new benchmark for automated volumetric modular construction".

Operating under the name Autovol, the factory will be on a 52-acre site on Star Road in Nampa. Prefab Logic is designing the factory in partnership with an as-yet-unnamed factory robotics development company.

"Autovol will greatly accelerate the big and positive impact on cost and productivity that current volumetric modular construction already delivers to our projects," said Prefab Logic co-founder Curtis Fletcher. "This factory will create new breakthroughs in construction speed, capacity, efficiency, and excellence."

Boise, Idaho-based Prefab Logic aims for the factory to be producing in early 2020.

"I think this will have a tremendous impact on the market. There are some groups manufacturing in a panelised fashion but there’s nobody doing a volumetric manufacturing facility the way that we’re going to do," Fletcher says in a video about the plans.

Volumetric modular construction means the prefabrication of complete rooms, as opposed to panels.

Fletcher’s fellow co-founder Rick Murdock will assume the role of Autovol chief executive.

The announcement follows news this week that Silicon Valley prefab builder Katerra is set to receive a further $700m investment from Japan’s SoftBank, putting the four-year-old company’s value at more than $4bn.

Photograph: Prefab Logic co-founders Curtis Fletcher, left, and Rick Murdock (Prefab Logic)

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