Offsite not seen as ‘tried and tested’ – Mace boss
Offsite manufacturing is not seen as a “tried and tested solution” by large investors and clients, which is preventing its wider adoption, according to the Mace chief executive.
Mark Reynolds (pictured) was discussing some of the barriers to Design for Manufacture and Assembly (DFMA) as part of the House of Lords Science and Technology Committee’s inquiry into the sector yesterday.
He appeared alongside Cast chief executive Mark Farmer, Steve Radley, director of policy at the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB), and Dick Elsy, chief executive of High Value Manufacturing Catapult.
Earlier, the Committee also heard from Dr Mark Bew, chair of PCSG, and Mark Enzer, chief technical officer of Mott MacDonald.
Speaking to the Committee about the challenges offsite construction faces, Reynolds said: “It’s best to look at how projects are funded.
“Many of the large institutions and funders just want to see tried and tested solutions and if they are not proven then it will be a ‘not invented here syndrome’.
“We don’t have a process of doing prototyping and as a consequence we learn on the job. It’s difficult sometimes to get funding if you are trying to do something new. If you are trying to sell that into clients it is also difficult.
“And then it is about the design process. The traditional RIBA plan of work process does not really accommodate a manufactured construction solution.”
Farmer added that changing procurement models in order to foster greater levels of trust through the supply chain was crucial.
He said: “If we are going to really move forward on offsite manufacturing there is a big piece of work to do around more integrated procurement.
“We need to move to more collaborative procurement so that DFMA is can be promoted properly. There is not enough trust in the industry at the moment.”
And Bew highlighted how the government needed to help foster a new market for offsite construction in order to ensure that there was enough demand to ensure its financial success.
He said: “The key thing we have got to do is to create capacity in the market.
“We currently have a situation where anyone who has a factory to build components carries all of the risk around building those components and if the market doesn’t take up the opportunity around procuring those components, he fails.
“Finding ways of maintaining the market around those components so we can get the volumes up to pay for the overheads and then invest back into new components is key.
“There is a whole variety of people along the value chain…need to be aware of the benefits and supportive of the benefits.”
Yesterday’s was the House of Lords Science and Technology Committee’s second evidence session examining offsite construction. The next is due to take place on 8 May.