Offsite and Modern Methods of Construction (MMC) are high on the agenda for clients, with promises of cost and time savings as well as improved sustainability and quality. It can sound too good to be true and for every positive story, there seems to be a few opposing stories where it didn’t deliver. The positives are attainable and this article covers a few key considerations for how to give your project the best chance of harnessing the advantages of MMC and avoid missing the opportunities it presents.
THE DFMA OVERLAY
With industry-wide acknowledgement that new technology is leading to new exciting opportunities, RIBA have taken the time to create the DfMA (Design for Manufacture and Assembly) overlay. This complements their traditional stages to project delivery. The overlay stipulates for a specialist MMC Adviser to be part of the project team at RIBA 0. As with most things with a construction project, the sooner options can be considered the better.
In the earliest stages the MMC Adviser will work with the team to;
Clarify the project aims and what DfMA approaches will be most beneficial.
Inform the procurement strategy which makes best use of supply chain partners and their capabilities.
Review of construction methods or systems which align with project goals and the procurement routes available.You’re already ‘doing offsite’ and DfMA you just need to think bigger.
A CHANGE IN MINDSET IS REQUIRED TO MAKE THE MOST OF OFFSITE BUT IT’S NOT AS BIGGER LEAP AS YOU MIGHT THINK
You wouldn’t have a joiner building kitchens from scratch on your property development. The time it takes to build them on site and the waste aren’t viable so we use kitchen components which have some constraints but are configurable.
DfMA principles mean thinking about the simplest way of achieving the end result. It’s closely aligned to the Lean principle of reduction of waste. So standard kitchen units which can be put together in different ways and a specialist facility are now seen as the logical way to achieve this. It wasn’t always so. The fact is construction has used materials that were manufactured and processed offsite for hundreds of years. The humble brick is a great example of a component manufactured offsite.
What we mean by ‘think bigger’ is considering the largest component that can be manufactured in controlled conditions before it arrives on site then working with the specifics of the project to come to the best decision.
As technology improves so do opportunities for efficiency.
An MMC advisor is across advances in construction technology and can advise on the solutions available on the market today along with their pros and cons. Offsite is a spectrum which have been given specific categories;
Think of an MMC advisor as a guide to these new opportunities in the market who can help ensure that your project team is considering all the opportunities open to them and the project.
THE BEST WAY TO KEEP YOUR OPTIONS OPEN
One of the challenges for successfully delivering offsite is too many projects have their planning approval in place when the decision to look at offsite is made. A building designed with DfMA and offsite in mind can be built using traditional construction methods but trying to use offsite when the design hasn’t considered it is often not possible. As offsite architects, Modularize, see this a lot. The leave the client in an awkward position of needing to decide to press on with the approved scheme or having to re-submit the planning application in order to maximise the value MMC can bring.
The DfMA Overlay clearly sets outs the core tasks needed to be executed to receive the benefits of MMC by doing more design and planning work earlier on in the project stages in order to mitigate risk through the engagement of a MMC Adviser / Offsite Architect.
THINKING ABOUT USING MMC ON YOUR NEXT PROJECT?
The DfMA Overlay acknowledges that DfMA is not just a technical solution, it is a philosophy that needs to be embedded early on in a project and not in isolation. When you embark on a new project this is the moment when you need to decide whether you are going to incorporate any offsite elements. Remember adding offsite post planning rarely adds value so to ensure an efficient and cost-effective solution for your project it has to be a consideration from the very beginning you need to design with offsite in mind so early engagement with a MMC Adviser is key.
REASONS TO GO OFFSITE
Faster Construction Time