Designing in efficiencies – How offsite can assist with streamlining the construction industry

Modern methods of construction are disrupting the construction industry, creating a new set of design expectations, and pushing boundaries with the use of new technologies and systems. As the construction industry continues to face increased pressures amidst a global skills shortage, Martin Harvey , Head of Design and Technical Services at McAvoy, discusses how offsite can assist with streamlining the industry.

There is no doubt the construction industry has recognised and embraced the benefits of the volumetric offsite industry.

The offsite sector has improved dramatically in recent years, creating a totally immersive process that streamlines construction efficiencies with clever design possibilities.

Innovations in technology have pushed the envelope of design capabilities and presented manufacturers with fresh opportunities to create and implement new and innovative ideas to significantly improve speed, quality and accuracy of the offsite product.

The construction industry as a whole is facing unprecedented pressures. The combination of Brexit and the pandemic has led to a well-publicised shortage of both people and skills.

With an increased demand for schools, hospitals, and houses – coupled with the Government’s ambitious Co2 emission targets – the industry is standing at a crossroads with firms being forced to rethink how they deliver.

The argument for offsite manufacturing providing the solution to this crisis is now stronger than ever, with its reduced reliance on a diminished trade-based skills pool, its versatility and its undeniable eco credentials.

People Challenges

At McAvoy, we have created innovative ways to tackle the skills crisis by adapting our own training programmes to produce multi-skilled employees capable of carrying out a range of manufacturing and construction activities within our offsite environment.

We work in partnership with a range of private sector and industry bodies, regional and local colleges, to create and deliver robust training and development programmes including HLAs and apprenticeships that extend beyond our mandatory requirements – right across the company from design to manufacturing, health and safety and site management.

Digitally led innovation

New technological capabilities have revolutionised the process of design, manufacturing, and construction: they can also eliminate risky (and often expensive) inaccuracies when constructing on-site.

A great example of this would be the Seismic project in which McAvoy were a core partner in developing the new platform-based approach to construction. The Seismic demonstrator building, which was delivered on site in 23 days, is the culmination of a four-year project developed by a consortium comprising consultancy blacc, offsite manufacturers McAvoy & Algeco UK (formerly Elliott) as well as Tata Steel, the Manufacturing Technology Centre (MTC), the National Composite Centre (NCC) and Specific (part of Swansea University).

Designed to work towards the government’s Construction 2025 targets, the building was delivered 33% quicker and with a 32% lower carbon impact than that of the standard offsite volumetric product.

At the centre of the platform is a standardised frame and connector which allows a number of repeatable components to be held in stock and built offline. This frees up time to focus on areas that add the most value to the design and create a quality sense of place for the end users.

There are also wider benefits for the industry. For example, by moving more of the construction process into a factory environment we can improve health and safety as work takes place in a very controlled and safe environment where working at height & manual handling are significantly reduced.

McAvoy are also currently involved in a similar innovation project for which we are further pushing the boundaries of offsite construction to complete a greater volume of work in the factory and offer a wider range of finishes to the floors, walls and fit-out. The project marries the latest technologies in 2D panelised and 3D volumetric methods of construction to complete spaces of varying sizes, heights and fit-out.

Projects like these highlight the new possibilities that offsite presents. Contrary to popular belief, modular buildings are now increasingly flexible, with varying design options and combinations available.

Now more than ever, offsite manufactured buildings enable clients to benefit from a total design solution that meets all regulations, is compliant with government standards, offers clients wide-ranging flexibility and offers a seamless experience.

Environment and Efficiency

The industry is facing increased pressure to be more sustainable too. Offsite is crucial in enabling the success of the government’s Construction 2025 strategy as it can significantly reduce delivery programmes, minimise environmental impact and deliver impressive air tightness and thermal performance.

For many years McAvoy has been employing circular construction techniques, with core components capable of being reused and recycled. Modules, for example, are designed to have the ability to be stripped back to the shell and re-purposed as part of a different building, thereby saving money, time and co2 emissions.

With digital technology ever-evolving, offsite manufacturing will continue to be better, smarter, and more efficient, transforming the way we design and create, and it will remain an integral part in the evolution of construction industry.

At McAvoy, innovation is at the heart of everything we do, and we will continue to invest in transforming our processes to drive our digital manufacturing strategy forward.

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