Off-site technology isn't new, but the industry is only just waking up to its benefits - about time too

The contribution of the off-site construction (OSC) industry is fundamental to creating a dynamic and sustainable built environment. OSC represents just the sort of innovative approach we need to ensure the construction industry remains in the vanguard of delivering a world-class product.

It is therefore puzzling that although the principles of off-site construction have been around for decades, take-up of this technique has been limited until comparatively recently. To any other industry sector it would be anathema for a process that offers improved quality, predictability, modern production efficiency, production control and improved conditions for its workforce to be undervalued and underused for so long.

Clearly success lies in engaging with professional expertise and off-site manufacturers at an early stage and taking the time to truly understand the circumstances in which off-site solutions can add value to construction.

Crucially, with our specialist insight, we have learned how to get the best from the manufacturing process and adapted construction processes to ensure that significant benefits are realised by applying OSC solutions. The industry has gone a long way to achieve genuine supply-chain integration and embrace significant advances in off-site technology.

The off-site industry has now come of age, and in collaborating with Building to produce this special publication on off-site construction, we hope to stimulate greater interest and provide valuable knowledge to the construction industry and its clients in looking to the future.

We look at how the off-site industry has evolved over the past 10 years, by using case studies of milestone projects or product developments, but focus primarily on the perspective of the sector looking forward over the next 10 years and the challenges that lie ahead.

We would particularly like to thank the participants in the OSC think tank, who have made a significant contribution to this publication.

Mtech Supplement April 2006