The what, why and how of product platforms in construction

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product platforms

The Product Platform Rulebook publication marks a new era of collaboration and innovation for construction sector in the UK

At the start of UK Construction Week in May the Construction Innovation Hub published the beta Product Platform Rulebook for consultation. Developed with the Hub’s industry partners, the Rulebook is an open-access guide to support industry – clients, consultants, contractors, manufacturers and product suppliers – in building capability and capacity to develop and deploy product platforms to meet demand.

Its publication followed extensive stakeholder consultation and industry involvement in developing the Rulebook, which not only defines a set of seven guiding Rules but also introduces a Product Platform Development Framework – detailed steps to guide anyone seeking to develop and deploy product platforms.

A key step in guiding the industry to develop and apply product platforms

The creation and release of the Product Platform Rulebook is a key step in guiding the industry to develop and apply product platforms in the manner driven by government, through policy such as the Construction Playbook and Transforming Infrastructure Performance Roadmap to 2030.

The needs of government, clients and industry were at the heart of development, meaning this is a tool that both demand and supply side can use to help the delivery of the future pipeline of projects and programmes. It will encourage clients to harmonise requirements and specify a platform approach with confidence – secure in the knowledge that this will improve safety, performance, and quality criteria.

It addresses directly:

  • Why: Why do we need a platform approach to construction, what outcomes are we trying to drive and how is policy driving the emergence of product platforms?
  • What: What are product platforms, what are their defin­ing features and what are the rules that govern whether something can be deemed a product platform?
  • How: Guidance on how to develop a product platform, the key decisions that need to be taken and the key outputs required to demonstrate compliance and to support their deployment on construction projects

Using digital and offsite manufacturing technologies to transform the industry

Commenting on the publication Lee Rowley MP, minister for business and industry, said: “Platform-based approaches are an example of how we can use digital and offsite manufacturing technologies to drive the transformation of the construction industry in the UK, improving its performance and delivering better outcomes for clients.

“This Platform Rulebook will help both construction clients and firms in the supply chain adopt more standardised parts by using product platforms to deliver new buildings and infrastructure, significantly improving productivity, quality, safety and sustainability.”

For me, the publication is all about “driving the schools, hospitals, homes and buildings of the future”. It is designed with built-in mechanisms for continuous improvement and the opportunity for synchronisation and streamlining as both capability and capacity grow. I am particularly proud of the collaboration involved, which he describes as “exceptional”.

The Construction Leadership Council added its voice in support of the Rulebook, describing it as a tool that “supports transformational change to the performance of our sector” and “a guide for anyone looking to work in this emerging area”.

Industry led the writing of the Rulebook and the technical authors have shared their own reflections on this important publication.

Ron Lang, technical director – DfMA at Atkins, said “the Rulebook brings much-needed clarity to the subject of product platforms in construction and ensures client’s and industry alike understand the benefits of product platform approaches, and how and when to develop and deploy them”.

He added that Atkins hopes the launch of the Rulebook “signposts the start of an ongoing collaboration between government and industry”.

Jamie Hillier, partner at Akerlof, sees the Rulebook’s role as a tool to “stimulate engagement and debate as part of a long-term journey and ambition to leverage the collective strength of our industry for the benefit of society”.

And Ben Carlisle, global practice leader for DfMA at Mott MacDonald, talked about the key role that infrastructure must play in meeting the huge environmental and societal challenges we face.

“Establishing commonality across our industry on the what, why and how of product platforms in construction is an important step in the right direction.”

The Rulebook includes valuable case studies, involving flagship projects and solutions like SEISMIC, Bryden Wood’s Platform II, the Department for Education’s Gen Zero, NG Bailey’s M&E kit of parts and Mace’s High-Rise Solutions.

It is a live document and further case studies will be developed through deployment, resulting in continuous improvement and future iterations that will provide further opportunities for the market to respond.

To complement the Rulebook, the Hub will also soon be publishing an interactive Specification Maturity route map. This has been developed to identify and map steps for clients to move towards the harmonised requirements and aggregation of a demand pipeline. It will help give industry the confidence to develop product platforms and clients confidence to specify a platform approach using the Rulebook to guide them.

A series of consultation sessions are taking place with industry and government with an updated Rulebook publication due in late summer 2022.

It stands ready to be the blueprint for developing and implementing product platforms today and long into the future.

The beta Product Platform Rulebook is available on the Construction Innovation Hub website together with supporting content.

 

Keith Waller

Director

Construction Innovation Hub

www.constructioninnovationhub.org.uk

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