The current off-site construction market currently concentrates on the manufacturing of building fabric whether in flat pack or volumetric processes. Very often the integration of the mechanical and electrical (M&E) services are treated in a traditional manner and are installed on site in the same way that they have always been undertaken. As a result, the main fabric is delivered and constructed on site very efficiently in a much shorter timescale. However, the programme requirements for installation of the M&E is similar to traditional methodologies.
The reasons why M&E systems suffer from such lengthy installation periods is that the same traditional M&E systems are employed, even though they are not the optimum solutions for the off-site products.
The industry has a general lack of understanding that off-site manufacturing processes provide much greater quality levels which enables the implementation of comprehensive ‘Fabric First’ processes, in turn resulting in better insulation, air permeability and less potential cold bridges.
If these benefits are considered holistically, it means that the amount of M&E required to service a building can be decreased. Also, the use of new technologies and processes can be employed to maximise ‘Plug & Play’ installations. This reduces the installation time on site and brings the M&E systems up to similar quality standards as the fabric. It also improves the ability to commission the M&E systems, resulting in improved internal environments and lower energy costs.