Talks of mandating off-site manufacturing on the rise
Slashing costs and speeding up build times are among targets announced in the construction industry’s Sector Deal.
Business Secretary Greg Clark announced the government will invest £170m in the Transforming Construction programme, with the industry committed to match this with a £250m investment, to boost skills and productivity.
The Sector Deal commits to cut the cost of construction and the whole-life cost of assets by a third and cut down the time taken from beginning-to-end of new build and refurbished assets by 50% by 2025.
Speaking at Building Live yesterday, Andrew Wolstenholme, Construction Leadership Council and Crossrail chair, said a move towards off-site was a must to transform the industry and boost productivity.
“There is a presumption within the sector deal that within five years, supply chains will have to provide a manufactured approach and I have persuaded the government to begin to think very hard as to how you mandate this sort of behaviour,” he said.
“I’m confident the market will be able to provide the right solutions if it is very difficult for you to procure, particularly public sector programmes, without taking seriously this agenda of manufacturing offsite.”
Jaimie Johnston, director and head of global systems at architect Bryden Wood, who has developed a platform type offsite system for Ministry of Justice, ESFA, Highways England, Crossrail and private sector clients including GlaxoSmithKline and Heathrow Airport, said while he was not aware of plans to mandate off-site manufacturing he expected clients to start to requesting it as part of the procurement of projects moving forwards.
“Obviously we would be delighted to be involved in the construction sector deal. We are currently developing a number of systems which we are in the process of physically prototyping, and they will be used on project by a number of our existing clients. We expect these to be complete by end of Q1 next year, and the intention is to open source these systems for widespread adoption,” Johnston said.
There are also pledges to halve greenhouse gas emissions in the built environment and reduce the gap between total exports and total imports of construction products and materials by 50% in the next eight years.
As part of the deal, the government announced the launch of the Centre for Digital Built Britain at the University of Cambridge. The new centre will develop BIM, sensors, data analytics and smart systems technologies that can be embedded in new building projects.
There will also be a £1.4m government investment in a research project led by Aecom. The project, named Building for 2050, is gathering evidence from three housing developments located in Swansea, Bristol and Manchester to reveal the barriers to developing low cost, low carbon housing.
The four targets for 2025
33% reduction in the cost of construction and the whole life cost of assets
50% reduction in the time taken from beginning-to-end of new build and refurbished assets
50% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions in the built environment
50% reduction in the trade gap between total exports and total imports of construction products and materials