Latest Advances In Off Site Manufacturing Construction Essay

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This report was written as a result of the accumulated information available on the enhancement of building construction. I am convinced that there was a need for a report that covered the principles which were involved in offsite manufacturing which could ensure that all readers had a good understanding of the importance of the subject for future developments.

The aim of the report was to be able to get an understanding of the subject and to fully understand the emerging advances which will occur in offsite- manufacturing within the UK.

The method is to introduce the background of offsite manufacturing, including and brief analysis of each system, with analysis of the applications of which these methods can be applied to e.g. student accommodation and hospitals. Also the benefits of the different systems being applied to applications has be analysed, to conclude an outcome of the future advances in offsite manufacturing for humanity. Linking the benefits which have been researched to other matters such as house prices being predicted to rise from 2012-2014, where house builders, developers etc are keen to develop and constructing before the predicated date at a smaller cost and time scale, achieving higher quality construction. It would achieve a more financial benefit than normal from house prices rising, when the house price rising period has been proven. Included is an investigation using case studies of developments which have used OSM systems, which has helped to support the research for the emerging advances.

A sentence or two on my main findings

A statement on my recommendations


The reason behind this study is to conclude what we within the UK can expect to see for the near future of building construction and technology, and emerging advances in Offsite Manufacturing. As the recent house price market is predicted to grow from 2012 with annual price growth heading towards 10% pa if not above. With demand, activity and prices, the activity during 2012-2014 should be probable to a rise, encouraging increased participation by house builders, developers, lenders and investors.

The concept of OSM

Offsite manufacture or construction refers to building structures being built not at the location of use but at a different location, which occurs in a specifically designed manufacturing warehouse or plant. This sort of process manufactures parts or modules of the building which is at first constructed in the factory then transported on specially designed trailers to the site. Once on site, the building is installed on permanent concrete foundations, which are already positioned before delivery of prefabricated parts. These buildings meet all applicable building regulations and are indistinguishable from onsite construction



The volumetric technique uses units which are three dimensional modules that are prefabricated in a factory environment, with the leading market being of either a closed module design bathroom pods or units suitable for student accommodation etc of a one bedroom layout being used continuously. There are also open sided module units which are also used that allow deeper plan buildings to be constructed, but offer less opportunities for standardisation.

These units are 3D modules assembled in a factory. The term "modular" is used to describe load-bearing units. The main market for volumetric is for closed modules, either bathroom pods or single room units suitable for hotels and so on. Open-sided modules provide allow the construction of deeper plan buildings but offer fewer opportunities for standardisation. The greatest benefits from volumetric production are derived from making highly serviced areas in factory conditions. With bathroom pods, for example, more than 30 trade activities are transferred off-site, leading to fewer people on site, easier commissioning and less rework. The cost premium depends on volume and complexity. For specialist applications based on a limited production run the premium can exceed 15%. With better utilisation of factories through larger volumes, or for buildings with a high value fitout, the premium can drop to around 5%.


These systems involve the on-site assembly of flat panel walls, and cassette floors and roofs. Systems range in complexity from simple timber or light steel frames (open), to more complex factory finished units incorporating insulation, lining, doors, windows and services distribution (closed panels). However the proportion of value in OSM on an open-panel system can be as low as 20%. Recent innovations include structural insulated panel systems (SIPS), where the rigid insulation core is bonded to sheet linings to form the panel.

The main market for panellised systems is residential construction, where in England and Wales, timber frame has a 5% share, much lower than in Scotland and other European countries. Timber panels typically add a capital cost premium of up to 5% that can be recouped via savings from reduced defects and rework in a well-managed site. Steel framed panels are currently more expensive. The advantages of panelised construction are speed of construction, the reduced impact of weather on the programme, and flexibility in terms of layout and room size. CAD/CAM integration in the production of systems including Space 4, Pace and Fusion has enabled a degree of mass customisation to be achieved at relatively low volumes - giving house builders the flexibility they need to meet client demands.


Hybrid systems use a best of both worlds approach by combining the benefits of modules for highly serviced areas and the flexibility associated with panellised construction for other spaces. Although volumetric bathroom pods are increasingly common in otherwise conventional construction, the full hybrid solution is relatively rare. In addition to housing, areas where the hybrid approach could be applied include the schools renewal programme and other urgent public investment programmes.

In the current marketplace, with healthy demand from established markets such as hotels, student accommodation and the MOD, the modular sector is working at close to capacity, and new investment will shortly add several thousand units/pa to capacity. As the rate of growth in the panellised sector has not been so rapid, there is more capacity, but with the introduction of a 25% modern methods quota for homes funded under the Housing Corporation's Approved Development Programme, demand for panelled systems is likely to increase as it is the simplest option for Housing Associations to implement.


Majority of applications of which are being used within the common industries at present:

Service pits

Modular student accommodation

Toilet pods


Pedestrian bridges

Roof and wall panels

Hotel units, office building, hospitals, prisons, houses, shops etc.

Benefits of OSM for housing

Achieving high quality

Minimising time

Minimising costs

Hospitals for quick erection and use, providing more much needed facilities at a faster rate. Also the prefabricated constructions would be from a cleaner working environment.

House prices predicted to have an increase and will have an effect on the interest of developers etc.

Advantages of prefabrication

Self-supporting ready-made components are used, so the need for formwork, shuttering and scaffolding is greatly reduced.

Construction time is reduced and buildings are completed sooner, allowing an earlier return of the capital invested.

On-site construction and congestion is minimized.

Quality control can be easier in a factory assembly line setting than a construction site setting.

Prefabrication can be located where skilled labour is more readily available and costs of labour, power, materials, space and overheads are lower.

Time spent in bad weather or hazardous environments at the construction site is minimised.

Less waste may be generated and in a factory setting it may be easier to recycle it back into the manufacturing process, for instance it is less costly to recycle scrap metal generated in a metal fabrication shop than on the construction site.

Moulds can be used several times.


Careful handling of prefabricated components such as concrete panels or steel and glass panels is required.

Attention has to be paid to the strength and corrosion-resistance of the joining of prefabricated sections to avoid failure of the joint.

Similarly, leaks can form at joints in prefabricated components.

Transportation costs may be higher for voluminous prefabricated sections than for the materials of which they are made, which can often be packed more efficiently.

Large prefabricated sections require heavy-duty cranes and precision measurement and handling to place in position.

Latest Advances in OSM

As we look ahead to the future, it is inspiring to realize that an increasing number of people agree: green is good. A generation ago, if the public thought about green design at all, they imagined geodesic domes with space age windows. But as awareness of ecological issues has increased, so have the questions we ask about how and where we live. How are our homes constructed? Is there lead in the point we use? How can we reduce waste and conserve energy in our homes? Many of our current buildings are making us sick. What is the cost of our health? How does this translate into how we design and build? We have a marvellous opportunity to rethink the way we build and the way we live. Sustainable living is no longer merely the concern of a few: it can now be a healthy lifestyle for many.

In a remarkably short period of time, green has gone mainstream. The last few years have been pivotal not only for green building but also for the green movement in general. People are becoming more engaged with ecological issues and more willing to do what they can to protect our natural resources and to improve our built environments. Magazines feature "green issues" that highlight developments in organic foods, hybrid cars, and solar panel. Celebrities tout the latest environmentally friendly products.

The contemporary movement for sustainable living has a powerful ally in technology.

The cycle of innovation in alternative systems using renewable and recyclable materials and energy are everywhere. (Kaufmann & Remick, 2009)

Stores now feature hundreds of new green building products, from recycled plastic decking to nontoxic paints and textiles. Green expos and trade shows are thriving, and American consumers are demanding sustainable, responsible products.

These new products and technologies have helped to challenge the "bigger is better" philosophy that has been a hallmark of American consumerism for so long. Take, for example, the popular Apple iPhone. When this little gadget hit the market, it proved that cell phones were no longer just for making calls. Today, technology must be multifunctional, so the iPhones includes a camera, an mp3 player, a photo gallery, and a means for checking email and surfing the internet. As avid iPhone users demonstrated, a bigger phone wasn't the answer, a better phone was. This paradigm shift, away from "bigger is better" to multifunctional has reached far beyond devices life cell phones.

It is now part of a broader cultural conversation about how to do more with less. (Kaufmann & Remick, 2009)

If the idea of a steel house doesn't meet with your aesthetic ideal, be reassured, your home can be finished with a stucco, shingle, or even a wood effect exterior to blend in with your surroundings.

Steel homes are also alleged to be good for allergy sufferers, utilising none of the resins, adhesives and chemicals used in other construction techniques.

Whether it be wood, metal or papier mache and spit, a self build home offers the opportunity to do right by your own dreams and also the environment

Eco measures it is worth considering when designing your home include:

Orienting and designing your home to make the most of passive-solar heat gain, and to use materials like concrete or ceramics which store heat.

Source timber from dealers using wood from sustainable sources.

Comprehensively insulate, wherever possible with green materials. Use double or triple glazing to help insulate and cut fuel costs. Also think about using either natural roofing products like slate or tile or turfing your roof, to insulate and also create a small natural habitat for wildlife.

Use paints and solvents approved by environmental experts.

Recycle water.

Use solar energy for long term energy gains or investigate the possibility of using geothermal energy.

Seek out utilities providers with green credentials.

Recycled and Refurbished Modular Building - Nursery,

London Docklands

Main drivers/constraints

Project information

Benefits achieved

_ A more sustainable approach to construction

_ A high quality building within the client's budget constraints

_ A calm and welcoming environment for young children

A new, purpose-designed nursery building was required for the University of East London's Docklands

campus. The Children's Garden Early Years Centre was constructed from recycled and refurbished building


The nursery facility demonstrates the potential and flexibility of this approach to sustainable construction.

The centre is clad in untreated Scottish larch, which helps to integrate the building into the streetscape, and

is naturally cross ventilated. Windows overlooking the educational garden provide a high level of natural

light and the interior is designed to be free from reception desks, corridors and signage to simplify the

children's experience.

The use of pre-owned modular buildings, which are fully compliant with Building Regulations, generates less

than 10 per cent of the carbon emissions and uses less than 3 per cent of the energy during construction

compared to a newly manufactured building of equivalent size.

_ A building that is robust, substantial and aesthetically pleasing

_ Completion on time and on budget

_ A highly sustainable alternative to new build and a positive way of reducing the building's carbon


_ The centre met Ofsted requirements without any adaptation to the design, and provides an attractive

new facility, which has been well received by staff, children and parents.

The Application of OSM to Housing in the UK

As environmental concerns continue to mount, developers are beginning to recognize the many benefits of sustainable prefabricated architecture. Shorter time frames for construction, predictable costs, government incentives, and lowered risk and liability are only a few of the benefits of integrating sustainable practices and products into our built environments. We believe that green design strategies are a natural fit with multifamily housing, and now larger developers are beginning to follow in the footsteps of smaller design build companies. Through the use of smart sustainable design and site strategies, energy efficient systems, and eco friendly materials, we can create low impact communities that are healthy, beautiful and cost effective.

As we have seen, homes and the land they use have big effects on the environment, human health, and local communities. Sustainable development is a more holistic approach to creating healthier, more environmentally responsible neighbourhoods. Instead of concentrating on individual components of sustainability, we consider the whole system. If we incorporate alternative energy systems like solar or geothermal power, we can potentially reinvest the energy savings back into the community in the form of organic gardens, exercise facilities, and other beneficial additions. And, in terms of sustainability, multifamily housing has single family homes beat. Multifamily communities are more energy efficient, use less land, and are often more pedestrian friendly with easier access to public transportation (no car needed).

Modular house - Prefabricated

Main drivers/constraints

Ensuring project cost certainty

Minimising time spent on site

Maximising environmental performance throughout the life-cycle.

Project information

The structure is a modern detached brick house that has been fully prefabricated offsite in a controlled factory environment. It responds to the Egan principles of innovative techniques and environmentally conscious design elements. This prototype is a typical three-bedroom family house, but any type of property, to any specification, can be manufactured using the same technique. Avoiding the usual on-site delays, this specialist system, for volumetric and modular buildings, is fast, efficient and non-intrusive.

The modular system uses heavy steel frames and solid concrete floors. The house is moved to its permanent location in four units that are installed on to ground works in a single day, allowing a fully functioning dwelling to be assembled in less than 24 hours. Site work is confined to the laying of foundations and the connecting of modules and landscaping.

(Note: this system is no longer in production.)

Benefits achieved

Increased predictability in costs and build time

Dramatic reduction in installation time

Excellent thermal values

Wall heights up to 12 m.

Modular house Extension - Prefabricated

Main drivers/constraints

Minimising overall project time

A problem transporting or delivering manufactured products to site.

Project information

A new extension has added a modern dimension to an Art Deco home in Handforth, Cheshire, while retaining the period feel of the property.

A rendered steel construction was used for the prefabricated extension, which was delivered to site. The curved roof extension, housing a bedroom with en-suite facilities, connects to the full-height bow-frontage, containing a spiral stair. Large glass doors open out on to a timber deck over the existing roof. Because of the size of the prefabricated structure, the module was divided into two parts after factory assembly for ease of transportation.

Benefits achieved

From start to finish, work took just six weeks in the factory, where all fixtures and fittings were built into the Unit

The site operations to offload and fix the units took one day, so that the clients were able to sleep in their new penthouse suite the same night. Connections and general interface items took a further week.

Review of Literature

Will involve reading what other people have written about your area of interest

Provide evidence that you have read a certain amount of relevant literature and that you have some awareness of the current state of knowledge on the subject.

Method (considered choice of investigative technique)

My investigative technique is to research prefabricated houses, and also the application of an extension to a non prefabricated house.

Find tables of differences of the UK to other world wide countries

Results (detailed findings) - outcome of future advances


Summary and Conclusion - outcome of future advances