As quality over cost becomes a key driver, offsite manufacturing provides greater product assurances, says Adam Cafer, technical manager at Polypipe Terrain
During 2018, offsite manufacturing methods – particularly modular construction – have hit the headlines across the construction media and the national consciousness.
There is a growing number of advocates for increased use of offsite construction, but planners should not be concerned that this should mean a drastic rethink of the planning and procurement process.
Offsite manufacturing has been a specialist service supplied by many manufacturers and its effectiveness has often gone unheralded. The main benefit of designing and building systems offsite is that all issues of design complexity and testing can be worked out and solved before a system gets anywhere near a building site.
For example, Polypipe Terrain drainage stacks arrive on site complete and ready to install, allowing contractors to get moving quickly with a more accurate and efficient drainage system to install.
Before arriving on site, the offsite manufacturing processes are closely managed from start to finish, with fully labelled stacks delivered to site for installation.
Polypipe Terrain drainage stacks are designed and manufactured in a state-of-the-art facility to meet exact specifications of the project and remove the need for specialist teams on site to undertake significant work to install them.
Furthermore, every stack is air tested at the factory to ensure quality, giving installation teams one less thing to worry about. Fabricating drainage stacks before their delivery to site minimises the need for jointing.
All of these methods reduce the risk of costly mistakes during installation, providing assurance that once on site these systems will be fit for purpose as well as future-proofed.
Choosing plastic over alternative materials can help project managers balance skilled labour requirements and complete drainage projects faster, boosting productivity by allowing contractors to focus elsewhere.
There are several sectors that have struggled to attract and retain enough talent – and construction has felt that pain more than most – with project planners looking to solve resourcing headaches on almost every major project.
A recent Employer Skills Survey found that construction employers are now struggling to fill one in three vacancies, which could mean greater project delays.
We are still waiting to see how the construction industry will respond to the Hackitt Review, but there is a desire to influence a change in philosophy across the sector to focus on quality products used and safety of design.
Dame Judith Hackitt is already searching for a turning point, recently commenting at the Chartered Association of Building Engineers conference that: “The structure of the industry has to change to make it more effective. We need to put a focus on the way in which buildings are procured. If we have a process that makes people bid at a cost they can’t afford to deliver at, we set ourselves up to fail.”
Offsite manufacturing and assembling more building critical systems in factory conditions before delivery to site must surely play a role in making the products and systems widely used by the construction industry safer. It will also help to restore a greater sense of accountability on the quality of products sourced and procured for use.
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