Mace calls for construction to adopt factory model
A new report by Mace highlights how the growth of populations in cities will lead to increasing demand for high-rise living and sketches out the manufacturing methods it recommends to meet this demand.
The modern methods of construction paper, authored by Steve Hughes, a former Bank of England economist, says that in the UK’s 12 biggest cities 1 in 6 of the homes that will be required over the next 20 years are yet to be built, with 10,500 new homes needed every month to keep up with demand. The construction sector would need to increase its productivity by 30% if it is to build the homes these cities needs.
Modern methods of construction is a catch-all term for the techniques, approaches and technologies that allow new ways of working within an industry that struggles to move with the times.
Practical application of MMC
Mace uses the report to outline its factory process, where it believes its ‘just in time’ high rise housebuilding model is the solution to building affordable homes quickly.
Mace explains the method of producing a high-rise building in its ‘jump factory’ in East Village, Stratford, London to explain how its model works:
- 98% of the superstructure is prefabricated and the towers are built using a climbing mechanism that allows a new floor, including structure, cladding, horizontal and vertical service modules, bathrooms and utility cupboards, to be fully externally complete in just one week
- The process uses the local supply chain through a component or ‘platform’ based approach in a similar way to making a car
- The Rising Factory model is the basis of a patented new MMC approach by Mace, known as High Rise Solutions. The report was scant on detail of this new product
- This prefabrication method means 40% fewer vehicle movements and 75% reduction in waste, whilst delivering potentially lighter structures
- Mace views this as a ‘production’ rather than ‘construction’ approach
The report suggests that adopting modern methods of construction would not only ensure housing quotas are met, but also provide a £39bn export opportunity, selling the UK’s expertise abroad.
The report also highlights the importance of data in modern construction techniques. The author argues as more of the benefits of new working practices are recorded – such as higher quality, time-certainty, lower costs – the more likely they will be adopted and used. It suggests construction firms could partner with universities to analyse the benefits of construction projects that are using new working practices.
Mark Reynolds, chief executive of Mace, said: “The construction sector can be a jewel in Britain’s post-Brexit exporting crown. Thanks to a legacy of pioneering achievements, the UK is respected throughout the world as experts in delivering major, complex and innovative construction projects.
“Embracing modern methods of construction and exporting our knowledge around the world could lead to billions of pounds more in trade and help build new relationships with major markets around the world.”