Last edited 22 Nov 2020

Off-site manufacture for construction: Building for change


In July 2018, the House of Lords Science and Technology Committee published a report suggesting that off-site manufacture (OSM) could offer many solutions to the construction industry’s problems.

Off-site manufacture for construction: Building for changeclaims that the industry will struggle to meet the UK’s housing and infrastructure needs without a ‘radical overhaul’ but that fragmentation of the industry is currently presenting an obstacle to change.

The report suggests OSM has the potential to increase productivity, improve quality and reduce environmental impacts, as well as reducing the demand on labour which is predicted to increase as a result of Brexit and the skills shortage.

Earlier in 2018, the government adopted a ‘presumption in favour’ of OSM for its projects and the report recommends the development of key performance indicators which could assess the success of this policy. Where OSM is not used on a project, the report said, the government should publish an explanatory statement.

Chairman of the committee Lord Patel said:

“There are clear and tangible benefits from off-site manufacture for construction which make a compelling case for its widespread use. We heard evidence that OSM could increase productivity in the sector by up to 70%.

“The construction sector’s business models are no longer appropriate and are not supporting the UK’s urgent need for new homes and infrastructure. The construction sector needs to build more trust and create partnerships so that companies can work together to improve the uptake of off-site manufacture, and the Construction Leadership Council should provide the necessary leadership.

“The role of the government and the wider public sector is pivotal in a move to greater use of off-site manufacture. The report sets out actions that the committee thinks the government should take including implementation of the Construction Sector Deal, committed execution of the ‘presumption in favour’ of off-site manufacture and a greater move to procuring for whole-life value rather than lowest cost.”

You can read the report here.

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