The trend of offsite manufacturing in the construction sector is continuing to grow with more and more projects having pre-fabricated elements built offsite.
October 12, 2021
There are many reasons for this including an increase in the speed at which projects need to be completed, particularly in the residential sector to keep pace with the UK’s current demand for new housing. Other reasons include tighter cost control regulations and worryingly, a skills shortage in the industry, which has high levels of self-employed and sub-contracted labour.
A Government White Paper written in 2017, entitled Fixing our broken housing market encouraged modern methods of construction in house building, to boost productivity and ensure projects are completed within the current guidelines and timeframes. The white paper champions modular construction as the answer to meeting housing demand, during an ever-increasing skills shortage.
So, what constitutes offsite construction & how does this affect balconies?
Offsite construction is simply the manufacture and assembly of components at a location away from the site it is to be installed on. Traditionally, these will take place in a factory or warehouse and then be transported in sections before being added to the final building. Brooksby have both off-site manufacturing and assembly sites where balcony units are fabricated, assembled and stored ready for on-site delivery at the agreed point in the project timeline. It is recognised that the key to the success of prefabricated solutions is a fully-integrated approach between designers, manufacturers and contractors i.e. adopting a BIM (Building Information Modelling) system. Brooksby have this in operation and all projects are detailed using the latest BIM techniques.
What are the key benefits of offsite balcony construction?
There are many benefits to having parts of your construction manufactured offsite and these can be split in to 5 categories (speed, quality, safety, finance and environmental). Details for each are below: (create a graphic)
- Less time on site due to fast installation, keeping project timelines to a minimum
- More reliable site deliveries, critical especially in city centres where access and congestion are paramount.
- Less dependency on good weather
- Greatly reduced crane time
- Improved quality & reliability due to factory-controlled QC systems
- Less re-work on site. Factories are typically 70%-80% efficient compared to efficiencies as low as 30% for some construction projects
- Reduced need for onsite labour
- Fewer overall site deliveries
- Less time spent on site and working at heights
- No working under a live load
- Significant cash flow advantages over traditional build, due to earlier return on capital
- Encourages lightweight solutions, offering savings to foundation and structural design
- Cost certainty, helped by proven significant reductions in costly re-work
- CO² reduction due to fewer site deliveries
- Less waste to landfill
- Maximising the use of in house ‘green’ operations/processes
There has been some criticism in the construction press recently that offsite manufacture is not being taken up as speedily as it might, some of this is attributed to lack of knowledge by the more traditional construction companies. To this end, there is both a publication and a website dedicated to this topic connecting the UK offsite industry: https://www.offsitehub.co.uk
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