Gaynor Tennant, CBDO of Modularize, tells PBC Today how they can help address the gap between architects and manufacturers in the offsite construction sector
Modularize was set up in 2011 and its primary focus is to bridge the gap between architects and manufacturers. We design new products for the offsite market, we work with existing manufacturers to refine any processes within the factory, help with value engineering of products, and set up new factories for manufacturers.
Alongside all of that, we implement all the business systems needed, such as Enterprise Resource Planning (EPR) and Product Data Management (PDM) – these are the systems needed to run a factory and allow configuration management for the products we design.
We see a vision of industrialised, systematic construction using Modern Methods of Offsite Manufacture. Our vision is reinforced by the digitisation of the entire construction lifecycle, from procurement and design through to asset and facility management.
A revised, value-driven outlook on construction projects will force delivery of an increasing market share of pre-assembled building components manufactured in a controlled environment away from the construction site.
It’s in our bones to innovate change. We can only achieve the changes needed by working smarter, working more collaboratively and working with a social conscience.
How does Modularize help companies within the offsite sector?
As an organisation, we have MMC consultants, architects, design engineers and computer programmers all working in-house – they take an architectural design of a building from the viability stage through to detailed design applying system-specific Design for Manufacture and Assembly (DfMA), producing manufacturing information packs as an output.
The manufacturing models that we create drive out a full and detailed Bill of Materials (BoM). The BoM is every part in the building itemised with associated costs per part, assembly and sub-assembly.
If a developer comes to us, we will work with the architect to rationalise the building design and optimise it for offsite construction. We will then produce the manufacturing model and the developer can get a full picture of the project, allowing them to understand the optimal level of pre-assembly that suits their project. When they go out to a tender or manufacturer they will then be compared like-for-like and have a narrower spread of costs with more confidence and less risk.
There’s a big push in the industry for standardisation of products that can be widely used – I think the market needs that at the moment.
In short, we help with every stage of an offsite project. We like to call ourselves system integrators. That means we have all the skills, resource and knowledge in-house to help our clients at every stage of their offsite journey.
What are the benefits of using Modularize?
We enable clients so that they know their materials costs upfront and we work with the manufacturers to ensure that what’s being delivered is easy to manufacture and matched with the client’s needs.
Working this way also allows us to help the developer get a better handle on their entire supply chain because once we know all the costs of the materials, assemblies and sub-assemblies we can combine them in different ways to deliver the project using the most efficient offsite method.
If a client says “I don’t really want to pay that much” we can suggest alternative ways to value engineer the product or delivery system. We reduce wastage on the materials within the design process and design the building with the best level of pre-assembly and finish. We can go out to the supply chain and check which products are the best value based on the performance needed. All of this allows us the control of the manufactured parts of the project so that we can rationalise a building to get the best fit for our clients’ needs.
With a lot of time wasted in the design process within the industry, we aim to help slash this by making the process of designing offsite buildings more cost- and time-effective for a developer. It’s our role as offsite system integrators to help clients understand what different flavours of MMC work best and how they can be economically deployed, not just within the constraints of the offsite products, but within capability of each clients existing supply chain and business.
Our in-house software developers help us to go even further. By working alongside manufacturers or the factories we help to set-up, we can output CNC codes that drive the machines straight from the manufacturing model, so there’s no need to replicate the design again. We also develop apps and workflows that help streamline the design process from the front-end.
I suppose that you could say that coming to Modularize first will give you the best chance of getting the best solution. If you were to go direct to a manufacturer with a design that wasn’t “modularized” then you’re already starting on the back foot!
Clients Modularize has helped in the past
We’ve worked with around 80% of UK manufacturers and about 20-30% on a global basis. We’ve designed lightweight modular components to be lifted by a helicopter through to pre-assembled buildings ready for transport by boats! We’ve designed every conceivable type of offsite system you can think of. This puts us in an excellent place to provide experience and knowledgeable services to our clients.
We’ve been able to help many clients understand what they are building and how that building goes together. We also help with understanding the capabilities of the vast range of products available within the supply chain. From component systems to panelised and modular products, we know every nut and bolt of the design and how best to achieve economies of scope when it comes to applying Modern Methods of Construction.
The wide range of projects we’ve been involved in has been truly global. From modular buildings in the Amazon through to bathroom pods and “cow-proof” light steel houses in India, our team of engineers and consultants have seen it all!
In the past three years, our focus has been largely on residential applications of offsite construction but recently we’ve started to see more commercial projects coming through again. We’ve had the pleasure of working to develop some of the most exciting offsite residential products the UK has ever seen.
The offsite market is going in the right direction; it’s taken a little longer than we anticipated but I don’t think that’s a bad thing. It’s such a pleasure these days to not have to educate our clients about MMC first. The level of intelligence and knowledge that our clients have about MMC continues to impress me.
We need a change in the construction industry, so our business is in the right place at the right time. Our experience will go a long way with helping our business grow and our reputation will ensure that we stand out from the crowd.
We will remain to sit between the architects, clients and the manufacturers and give all the value of our experience and knowledge. We will continue to provide our clients a great value by making sure the products are fit for offsite and allow the manufacturers to have designs that they know can be created quickly and with ease while saving them cost in their production process too.
In the next five years, we want to expand our network of suppliers by working with SME manufacturers – not forgetting working with the larger ones too, of course. We want to help smaller companies compete by clustering together and maximising economies of scale on purchasing. This is where a standardised system comes in: everyone can benefit from economies of scale and small developers can be contenders against the larger developers.
As an organisation we are inspired by the power of digital collaboration, the circular and sharing economy that has driven a revolution in the way we work, plan and communicate. We see digital collaboration as being pivotal in the landscape of future offsite building providers and we intend to lead the way in that respect.
The Modularize declaration
Are you an investor, developer, contractor or local authority looking to set up a new MMC factory or enter the market?
The offsite construction sector is becoming increasingly competitive. As the use of modular and panelised building systems spreads around the globe, have you properly considered how to distinguish your business and stay ahead of the competition? Where are the opportunities currently? Residential, student, Build to Rent, hotels? Does your product meet the requirements of the market?
The best way to make any manufactured solution work is to match the entire production process with the demand profile. That’s the same in manufactured construction. Does your manufactured building solution meet the real demands of the market you’re targeting?
Too often, new providers are unclear on many of the above questions; quite simply, we help them! We understand what it takes to become a success in the offsite sector. We operate globally and have longstanding relationships with suppliers, manufacturers and funders who share a common goal of improving the way we build.
On top of all the amazing design and manufacturing knowledge we have in-house, we also assist clients with their short-term and long-term strategies. If you’re looking for a route to market, advice and assistance getting your offsite construction projects delivered or even need funding for your expansion into the offsite sector, then give us a call and speak to myself or one of our talented team.
Tel: +44 (0)0330 113 1975