SYNC – Victoria, Australia

May 30, 2024

SYNC

Inclusive Approach to Prefabricated Construction and Sustainability

 

Construction a bright future with the tools to equip future success

Since its inception in 2013, SYNC has established itself as a leader in the off-site manufacturing of high-quality prefabricated bathrooms in Australia. Under the guidance of Chris Ong, Managing Director, the company leverages advanced prefabrication and digital design technologies to boost the construction industry’s efficiency, quality, and sustainability.

SYNC has made a mark in the industry with its production of bathroom pods, a fundamental innovation in its operations. Over 11 years, SYNC has produced an impressive count of approximately 28,000 pods. The units, designed and assembled within SYNC’s factory settings, are integrated into construction projects nationwide. Each pod, a complete bathroom with four walls, a floor, and a ceiling, is equipped with all electrical and plumbing by licensed tradespeople after thorough quality assurance. The units are assembled in a factory and installed on-site with precision and efficiency, reflecting SYNC’s commitment to quality.

The expansive SYNC facility, encompassing around 20,000 square meters of covered area supplemented by a 40,000 square meter external area, serves as a production and operational hub. Here, the scale of its operations mirrors its ambitious plans to scale up production from 3,000 to 5,000 bathroom pods annually within the next year and a half.

SYNC has expanded its clientele to include sectors like residential housing, aged care, hotels, hospitals, and student accommodations. Each sector presents unique challenges and requirements, prompting SYNC to adopt a mass customization approach to their bathroom pods. This strategy ensures that while the production process remains streamlined and cost-efficient, each unit is tailored to meet the specific needs of different clients and projects.

 

The power of 3D modeling

SYNC’S technological backbone includes advanced 3D modeling of each bathroom design to ensure compliance with regulatory standards and client specifications. The high level of engineering and customization is complemented by quality control systems that guarantee the integrity and functionality of each pod before it leaves the factory.

By automating many processes within its operations and utilizing 3D modeling to ensure precision and compliance before production, SYNC requires less skilled labor for manual tasks. The technological approach streamlines production and makes the work less physically demanding, allowing a broader range of people to participate in the workforce.

Despite these advancements, SYNC employs skilled professionals, such as licensed plumbers and electricians, alongside experienced supervisors who bring traditional craftsmanship to the modernized setting. This blend of skilled and semi-skilled workers underscores SYNC’s hybrid approach—integrating the reliability of skilled craftsmanship with the inclusivity of modern manufacturing processes.

An inclusive workplace

The workforce at SYNC predominantly consists of semi-skilled and low-skilled workers, many of whom are drawn from the local community in Melbourne’s burgeoning suburbs. The strategic choice supports community employment and reduces commute times, enhancing job satisfaction and work-life balance. For example, the factory setting allows for flexible working hours, which is particularly beneficial for employees with family commitments, such as families who need to manage childcare.

Ong proudly notes, “Approximately 22% of the factory’s workforce is female, a significant figure compared to the typically male-dominated on-site construction environments.” This statistic not only highlights SYNC’s commitment to gender diversity but also reflects a broader trend of increasing female participation in various workforce sectors.

Moreover, the demographic diversity extends beyond gender. The factory staff is average age, which indicates an inclusive age policy, with 34% of employees over 40 and 29% over 50. The diversity in age and skills enriches the workplace environment and promotes a broad array of perspectives within the company, enhancing cultural and experiential understanding.

Reflecting on the company’s community impact and workforce strategy, Ong expresses pride and a desire to enhance public awareness of its advanced practices; he states,” SYNC is more than a factory disguised as a construction site; it is a hub of modern employment practices and technological integration in the construction industry.”

Workforce strategies

SYNC is part of the Hickory Group. Founded over 3 decades ago by 2 brothers and their father, who started by concreting driveways, Hickory is a billion dollar tier one contractor. However, it has maintained its family-oriented atmosphere, which remains a cornerstone of its culture. This personal touch is felt throughout the company, where employees are not just numbers but recognized and valued members of the SYNC family.

Ong points out that SYNC’s surroundings foster a sense of belonging and engagement among staff, who feel more like family than employees. The environment encourages openness and personal connection, contributing significantly to employee satisfaction and retention.

SYNC is committed to the continuous growth of its employees and consistently pushes the boundaries of traditional construction methods. By driving innovation and thinking creatively, SYNC advances its standards and influences the broader industry to elevate its practices. Ong shares, “Committing to raising standards is about meeting and exceeding the minimum requirements to ensure quality output in every project.”

Thinking of the customer is another core value at SYNC. The company emphasizes a collaborative approach with clients, ensuring their visions are met and exceeded. The focus on client satisfaction is integral to the company’s operational philosophy and is reflected in the loyalty and trust it builds with its clients.

 

Sustainability and social responsibility

One of the cornerstone practices at SYNC is the design for manufacture and assembly (DFMA) approach, which inherently reduces waste through precision and planning. By utilizing advanced 3D modeling, the team at SYNC can optimize material usage down to the last millimeter, ensuring that every resource is utilized efficiently. Planning allows for a drastic reduction in waste—cutting it down to as little as 1% for breakages and waste, compared to the industry standard of around 15%.

The significant reduction is an environmental achievement and a cost-effective strategy, as reduced waste leads to lower costs, which SYNC passes on to its clients. Ong emphasizes that this approach is part of a broader commitment to being responsible stewards of the planet while making economic sense.

Moreover, SYNC is proactive in recycling nearly all the waste in its factory. A recent report from its waste management company highlighted that 99% of SYNC’s waste is recycled, “we’re really proud of that,” Ong shares. Efforts are continually made to improve this rate to 100% waste recycling.

In addition to waste management, SYNC invests in renewable energy solutions to power its operations. Solar panels installed on the factory roof significantly reduce the dependency on non-renewable energy sources, helping to lower the overall carbon footprint of the manufacturing process.

Ong also mentions ongoing research into new materials that could further reduce the environmental impact of the bathroom pods. Although specific details are currently under wraps, he hints at promising developments that aim to make SYNC’s products even more sustainable, particularly concerning carbon emissions compared to traditional construction methods.

Through these efforts, SYNC enhances its corporate image and contributes meaningfully to the global challenge of reducing environmental impact. The work exemplifies how industrial innovation can be harmoniously aligned with ecological stewardship, setting a standard for future generations in the construction industry.

Core partnerships

SYNC is nurturing an export relationship with New Zealand, providing custom bathroom solutions for retirement villages and aged care facilities through a partnership with Metlifecare. The international venture highlights SYNC’s ability to adapt and deliver specialized products across borders, addressing specific local needs while maintaining high standards.

In Australia, SYNC maintains relationships with significant industry players, including the ASX-listed company Mirvac, known for its large-scale developmental projects. SYNC also partners with various developers in New South Wales, such as Deicorp and Geocon, indicating SYNC’s strong foothold in the regional market. These relationships are important, as they help SYNC to sustain its operation flow and expand its influence in the construction sector.

Growth and innovations

Looking ahead to 2024 and beyond, Ong is optimistic about the company’s growth trajectory despite recent industry-wide challenges. With a projected increase in pod production and turnover, SYNC is poised for a 35% growth by 2025 and aims for an additional 20-30% in the following year. The growth is supported by continuous investment in innovative methods and technologies that enhance efficiency and output, ensuring SYNC remains at the forefront of the modular construction industry.

Additionally, SYNC is exploring integrating artificial intelligence into its operations. Initial AI applications are modest but strategic, focusing on automating administrative tasks such as analyzing construction drawings to improve accuracy. The technological advancements will transform how SYNC manages its vast data and experiences, potentially leading to more informed decision-making and enhanced operational efficiencies.

As SYNC continues to innovate within its sector, it does so with an eye toward sustainability, community, and technological advancement. This ensures it remains a leader in modular building and creates a sustainable and inclusive future.

AT A GLANCE

SYNC

What:  SYNC delivers modular project solutions across Australia and New Zealand.

Where: Victoria, Australia

Website: https://sync.industries/

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