As I look around social media these days, I notice a lot of people shouting about the benefits of offsite construction and how we all should be using more Pre-Manufactured Value (PMV). In my 17 years’ experience of being in the industry I’ve frankly never seen so much hype. Don’t get me wrong, this is good news and something I’ve been wishing would come true for a long time. The only problem is, as I delve deeper, and look at what a whole bunch of new market entrants are doing, I’m perplexed at the lack of understanding of what is needed to build a successful offsite construction project.
So, taking all of this into consideration I’ve dug deep and thought about what I can see going wrong out there and what the new market entrants really need to focus on getting right first. If I was setting up a manufacturing facility, what would I want to get right first?
We tend to call it offsite construction or modular building or something along those lines. What I prefer to call it is Manufactured Construction. To me that covers a broader spectrum of systems and methods but essentially it has that key word in it “manufactured”. Without understanding that we are manufacturing buildings, not knocking them together on a muddy construction site with a band of merry men, we have no hope of aligning everything we need in the right order.
Manufacturing is all about streamlined processes, it’s about planning material flow around a factory and minimising the waste. Most importantly though, everything a manufacturing organisation does MUST MAKE MONEY. It sounds obvious but the more and more new market entrants I visit, not just in the UK but overseas too, seem to be overlooking this simple mantra. I see companies being set-up without process, without goals and most worryingly without any understanding that they are going to be manufacturing buildings.
The industry is in danger of simply transferring an inefficient approach to construction into a shed! No muddy field, yes but no process, no flow, no control and no feedback.