The utilisation of pre-manufacturing technologies brings construction into the modern age by transferring production to the factory. With greater quality control and more efficient use of materials and labour, employing manufacturing techniques boost productivity. Enabling faster scheme delivery with less risk of programme disruption on site, such as through bad weather. With scale, costs can be reduced through greater efficiency, delivered in a safer, controlled environment for workers.
Digitisation may be deployed both in the production process to achieve precision engineering and assembly, and through Building Information Modeling (BIM) (and successor models). BIM is a dynamic database which can track the unit through design, specification, procurement, construction/assembly, quality control and finishing, handover, letting/selling, residential occupation and management, repair, depreciation and replacement, and recycling and renewal. Digitisation has the potential to transform stakeholder confidence in the product including that of investors, manufacturers, builders, surveyors, lenders, insurers, managers, and, of course, consumers.
The performance will be much more closely monitored and scrutinised through digitisation and manufacturing. Through BIM, Prop Tech, big data, AI and the internet of things, performance can be tracked throughout the building’s life. This means there is continuous data from design, manufacture, build, and management, which can feed back into design.
Government and industry must work together on the creation of apprenticeships and training products that support the rollout of MMC and encourage new entrants into construction. This must be funded and otherwise enabled strategically, including the encouragement of SMEs. This requires resourcing and incentivising new delivery agencies such as local authorities, local housing companies, special purpose vehicle’s (SPV’s) and joint ventures to recognise and utilise emerging technologies.
Private sector investment in MMC is already widespread. However, more can be done to create an environment of cooperation and joint venture, particularly to encourage SMEs to access and invest in larger production plants.