The January meeting of the CE Offsite Manufacturing & Technology Group looked at business models, quality and supply chains. There were presentations from Tim Carey, Chief Product Director at Collida, Shivam Chauhan, Technical Lead for BRE at the Construction Innovation Hub and Cy Keogh, Senior Advisor at MTC.
The session covered Willmott Dixon’s approach to MMC, the latest developments on the Construction Innovation Hub’s Construction Quality Planning Tool and the MTC’s Supply Chain Readiness Support Tool. Here’s what we learned.
- Perfect Storm – currently a range of factors is driving the need to invest heavily in MMC. Net migration, the skills shortage, the drive for quality and the drive to net zero all point to MMC. Interest in MMC has fluctuated over the years based in price comparions.
- Aggregate procurement – many contractors procure on a job-by-job basis and do not unlock the full economies of scale. Providing consistency through a platform based approach can enable better relationships with supply chain partners.
- Standardisation – standardising what needs to be standardised will allow many items to be interchangeable and replaceable should problems arise with suppliers.
- Consistency – Willmott Dixon has been refreshing its corporate memory on how the business has approached MMC. Organisations need to draw on that corporate memory in order to drive innovation and change.
- Not a binary choice – when people think of MMC they often immediately leap to modular. Modular is not the only solution and there are a broad range of MMC approaches that use technology to reduce time on site. These range from panelised systems that will be useful in large areas e.g. a sports hall or classroom to the use of modular in highly serviced areas such as plant rooms, bathrooms etc.
- Capacity – the industry needs to not just understand the capability of the supply chain but also the capacity to deliver. We need to look at how we use the current capacity in the most effective way possible.
- Data – We need to capture data. Not enough data is captured in a meaningful way to allow us to quantify the benefits and stop our reliance on case studies.
- R&D – to increase the volume and benefits of standardised products the industry needs to commit wholesale to R&D. The intellectual property for contractors is in the knowhow of how things fit together, the network and support partners and not in the products themselves. The platform connects the consumers with producers.
- Early Integration – MMC cannot easily be retrofitted into projects, making the decision early to go down that route allows the full benefits to be realised.
- Quality – the industry needs to move from defect checking to having robust front-end systems in place that drive quality from the outset. This kind of product-based approach drives consistency and enables innovation and R&D to build on previous versions.
- Culture shift – driving zero defects will require a zero-defects culture. The Hub are developing a suite of tools and applications to support this.
- Resilience – there are a lot of small players in the MMC space, many of whom have been financially impacted by COVID and have weak trading positions. The supply chain tool from MTC helps companies map and understand the resilience of their supply chain looking at capacity as well as capability.
We are very much looking forward to seeing you at the meeting.