Steve Clark, manufacturing and construction director of transformation business Develop Consulting, explains why drastic changes in MMC methods are needed to deliver UK housing success.
The pressure is well and truly on for all housing authorities within the UK to tackle the housing crisis and MMCs are here to stay, representing the fastest growing area of construction in decades.
MMCs cover a broad range of offsite manufacturing approaches from components being produced in a factory and then assembled on site through to complete houses being built in the factory with just the onsite installation required.
However, the processes and approach need to drastically change to really get the best from offsite manufacturing and in turn to be able to accelerate the delivery of these homes within the UK.
Changing to manufacturing methods for MMC
The challenge that needs to be addressed by modular house manufacturers, we believe, is significantly more cultural than process based. From our experience, there is a construction culture, which needs to change to a manufacturing culture both inside factories and on site.
The many skills and capabilities it takes to manufacture a house are currently being fulfilled by people with experience in construction who behave and work exactly the same as they would if they were on a traditional building site. There is a heavy reliance throughout the process on “specialist” skills, not on standardised design and standardised manufacturing processes delivering a high-quality product.
Changing from using traditional construction methods to manufacturing methods would not only speed up the build process, but also make it easier, better and cheaper than ever before for new factory-built homes.
There remains a construction culture when housing is being built offsite, rather than having a manufacturing process at its core. The manufacturing process within a factory has more planning, organisation and preparation than in any other sector, which gives a far more consistent and streamlined output than anything construction can currently offer. We need to create an assembly line in a factory that is being provided with good information, the right materials and the people to put everything together in a timely manner to continuously produce houses.
Quite literally we need to build strong foundations for the process of the build to create a stable market and stronger product which will then lead to an improved output. But the main issue is they aren’t changing manufacturing facilities into production facilities, they are doing construction under a tin roof, and this needs to change, and soon.
I honestly believe with this process in place, a company could make a step change in the volume they are producing and this would go quite a way to help solving the housing crisis.
Midlands-based lean and transformation business Develop Consulting is already working with a number of modular homebuilders within the UK to create this change and is urging other companies to look at transforming the processes that they are currently using for MMC.