Off-site manufacture for construction: Building for change Contents

Appendix 3: Call for evidence

The House of Lords Science and Technology Select Committee, under the Chairmanship of Lord Patel, is conducting an inquiry into Off-site manufacture for construction. The Committee invites interested individuals and organisations to submit evidence to this inquiry. The deadline for receiving written submissions is Thursday 26 April.

Background

The UK Construction industry was worth nearly £100 billion to the UK economy in 2016. The sector contributes 6.1% to UK GDP. The construction industry is also vital to solving some of the pressing problems facing the UK, such as a lack of affordable housing and ageing infrastructure that needs replacing or increasing in capacity. However, the construction industry suffers from poor productivity and has not experienced the improvements in productivity seen in other sectors. New technologies, including off-site manufacture, could help to improve the productivity of the construction industry.

Off-site manufacture for construction describes a range of construction activities that involve bringing together construction processes, components, elements or modules in a factory before installation into their final location. While it is not a new idea the level of technology now available means it is much more viable as a modern method of construction.

The Government announced the Construction Sector Deal in November 2017 as part of its Industrial Strategy white paper. This included £170 million of investment from the Government in the Transforming Construction programme. The construction industry committed to match that funding with a £250 million investment. The programme will “bring together the construction, manufacturing, energy and digital sectors in a new hub to commercialise technologies capable of building assets which are both cost effective and energy efficient.”180

Scope

The Committee’s inquiry will consider the potential benefits of off-site manufacture for construction and any drawbacks or obstacles to its wider use. It will also consider how off-site manufacture might contribute to improving productivity within the construction industry and how it will fit in with the Construction Sector Deal announced by the Government. It will examine how Government policy, particularly around public procurement, might need to change to encourage economically and environmentally sustainable practises in the construction industry, which could facilitate off-site manufacture.

Questions

In answering the questions below please provide practical examples where possible. If relevant, please state how you define off-site manufacture in your response.

Perceived advantages of offsite manufacture for construction

1.What are the opportunities offered by offsite manufacture for construction? What are the likely drawbacks? What factors are likely to influence clients, architects, design engineers, contractors and the supply chain in deciding whether to choose offsite manufacture?

2.It is often claimed that offsite manufacture can lead to:

Potential barriers to wider use of offsite manufacture

3.What are the drawbacks to offsite manufacture for construction?

4.What re-skilling of the construction workforce is required to facilitate a change to more off-site manufacture for construction?

5.Can the benefits of standardisation and factory manufacture be realised without hampering architectural ambition? If so, how?

6.What R&D is needed, and by whom, to realise fully the potential benefits of off-site manufacture

Government actions

7.(If published) does the construction Sector Deal correctly identify the issues faced by the construction industry and the actions that the Government and other stakeholders need to take to address them? What should it contain/what is missing?

8.What changes could be made to public procurement processes to encourage more economically and environmentally sustainable practises in the construction industry and facilitate off-site manufacture?

29 March 2018





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