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Last edited 20 Sep 2021
Platform approach to design for manufacture and assembly
During the 2017 Budget the Chancellor of the Exchequer announced that five central government departments would adopt a presumption in favour of offsite construction, leveraging their buying power to support the modernisation of the construction sector.
Subsequently, the government set out a ‘new approach’ to building, to be adopted across all government departments where it presents value for money. They called this a platform approach to design for manufacture and assembly (P-DfMA).
DfMA (Design for Manufacture and Assembly) is a process by which building products and components are designed in a way that enables them to be made on a large scale using machinery and then put together in one place.
A platform approach to DfMA (P-DfMA) is the use a set of digitally designed components across multiple types of built asset that are then used wherever possible, minimising the need to design bespoke components for different types of asset. For example, the same component could be used in the construction of a school, hospital and prison.
By taking a consistent approach and using standardised and inter-operable components across a range of different buildings, the government hopes to encourage the creation of a new market for manufacturing in construction and to take advantage of economies and efficiencies of scale.
The UK Government proposed adopting P-DfMA in a consultation that ran from 26 November 2018 to 17 February 2019. Ref https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/proposal-for-a-new-approach-to-building-call-for-evidence
The consultation document states: “While we recognise that there are other potential approaches which could improve performance in government-led building projects and we remain open to further proposals, we are setting out a proposed approach to building, to be adopted across government departments...”
Results from the call for evidence will be used to develop a P-DfMA strategy for government, to be led by the Infrastructure and Projects Authority (IPA) and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS). In addition there will be a series of pilot construction projects.
- The government needs to be clear about the intellectual property model it wants to promote, and it needs to stick to it.
- There needs to be a long-term, sustainable pipeline of work in place for the sector to deliver.
NB DfMA Overlay to the RIBA Plan of Work, Mainstreaming Design for Manufacture and Assembly in Construction, 2nd Edition, published by the RIBA in 2021, defines Platform-based design for manufacture and assembly (P-DfMA) as: ‘The process by which designers develop and make use of platform construction systems to create new bespoke built assets.’
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