Your industry debate on off-site manufacturing (17 February) appears to miss a key member of the team in the delivery of any off-site solution.
Most projects that look to off-site manufacturing options, such as prisons, student accommodation and - significantly omitted from your article - affordable housing, are delivered on a design-and-build basis where the client looks to the main contractor to take the risk on such solutions. With this in mind I cannot see how a fully considered discussion can be held on the subject without the involvement of those who will ultimately take the risk on cost, delivery, quality and health and safety issues.
From experience, I would agree with some of the opinions especially with regards to the early involvement of M&E specialists and off-site manufacturers themselves, but it seems that the industry as a whole is lacking in either experienced or enthusiastic construction delivery personnel. Generally speaking these individuals, who will ultimately take responsibility for the delivery of such solutions, feel uncomfortable about the commitments made in terms of delivery to accelerated programmes and advised durations for erection time. As a result, the industry will usually fall back on traditional insitu concrete frame solutions, where, if the programme is becoming a problem, more tradesmen can be brought on site to accelerate the works.
In my mind, if the industry is going to successfully embrace these alternative solutions, then an industry focus on training delivery teams in the technologies should be implemented.
As the saying goes, "familiarity breeds contempt", and unfortunately the construction industry is too familiar with often outdated construction techniques.
Andrew Lock, MBIAT