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.
We need to reinforce a systematic approach to offsite construction, please don’t just take a set of architectural drawings that have been developed for a traditional builder to use and understand and then set-up a “factory” manufacturing process from these. You simply won’t benefit from offsite construction, you’ll be turned over, hit with delays, you’ll be inefficient and most importantly of all YOU WON’T MAKE MONEY.
At the start of this short article I said I’d give you the secret to successful offsite construction. In truth there are many but if you were to ask me the one thing I’d focus on first if I were setting up my own factory, then that would be the Manufacturing Information Pack. What’s that? It’s is, in the simplest form, a very detailed set of manufacturing drawings and a detailed a Bill of Materials. Manufacturing drawings are not the ones the Architect’s generally create. They are broken down into much greater detail that allow the manufacturing team to understand exactly how to put your offsite product together in a factory. A Bill of Materials is a very long list of everything that goes into that product, from fixings and mastics to windows and roof tiles. Without this information we simply can’t understand how we are efficiently going to manufacture anything.
Can you imagine Ford designing their production line from a plan, section and elevation drawing of a car? They need much, much more detail – an understanding of every component and sub-assembly. I agree that this is a lot more work up-front than you’d like to commit to if you’re coming from a traditional construction background, but then you’re going to benefit from building something on site in a third of the time!
Albert Einstein said: “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”. Please don’t leave this page thinking that offsite, or Manufactured Construction is about doing what you’d do on a construction site but under the roof of a big shed!
If you’d like to talk to me about the quickest way to get your offsite construction venture production ready and to ensure that everything you do is a step to making money, then book a call with us today.