Offsite adoption – are we doing it but just don’t know it?
Posted by David Ing
I’ve long been a fan of offsite construction and Modern Methods of Construction (MMC). The benefits speak for themselves – quality control, speed, control of waste, safer factory process when compared to on site. Offsite is very much part of the current industry agenda. However, all too often it seems the benefits of offsite are recognised, but when it comes down to it, the old ‘we have always done it this way’ comes back into play and the traditional build industry wins. What do we need to do to change this cycle and get a much wider adoption of offsite across the industry?
Is offsite the answer?
As mentioned in my soap box piece in last month, we are facing a perfect storm - increased regulations and legislation, skills and materials scarcity plus closer scrutiny on quality, competence and performance. Does offsite offer the answer to some of these challenges? A factory based, multi-skilled assembly workforce, quality control, reduced waste. It certainly seems it’s a viable option.
But offsite has been a viable option for many years, so why the reluctance for a faster adoption? Perhaps we have adopted offsite and just not realised it. Whilst the ‘whole house’ delivery of a project may be slower to adopt, there are many components that are now making their way onto site that feature some form of factory-based pre-assembly. From M&E systems and roof systems to bathrooms or wall components, offsite features are on almost every project, whether we know it or not. A combination of traditional build and MMC could be exactly what we need.
Modernise or die
Earlier this year during Futurebuild, I had the opportunity to talk to Mark Farmer, Founding Director and CEO of Cast as well as Government’s Champion for MMC. In 2016 he was commissioned by the Construction Leadership Council to undertake a review of the UK’s construction model. The output was a document entitled Modernise or Die. A big part of this document was the need to advance offsite construction. Some six years later, Mark believes the document is more relevant than ever – the resiliency of our industry has been declining and doing things the same old way is no longer an option – we really do need to modernise or die.
We know the industry needs to change and it is changing. Whilst adoption of offsite may not have been as fast as we would have hoped, I believe it is going on on every project, albeit in a small way. As they say, from tiny acorns mighty oaks grow and I see offsite growing to become the industry-wide, accepted solution it deserves to be.
You can watch the full interview with Mark farmer by clicking here
This blog was also published in the July issue of ABC&D magazine. Click here to view the publication.