Time to think off-site

Events organised by BSRIA have the knack of picking a significant subject and highlighting the reasons why that subject is significant. The turnout for last month’s annual briefing on off-site production, also known as prefabrication, shows that many agree and were confident they would not be let down. From the attention paid to the speakers, one hopes for a surge in the use of off-site production to improve the pace of projects and their quality. Unfortunately, off-site production is not in the mindset of many specifiers and designers. As CIBSE president Graham Manly explained, some designers are showing a real interest, but many will require a change of heart for the building-services sector to benefit from these modern methods. The performance of the construction industry provides many reasons why plant should be manufactured and tested off-site. Just consider these performance figures for the industry. • 54% of M&E projects were late last year. • 58% of projects are completed over budget. • There were 70 fatalities in the construction industry last year — the same as the year before. Despite all the initiatives of the last few years aimed at improving the performance of the industry, current levels of achievement can hardly be regarded as satisfactory. A step change is needed, and that change could well be provided by off-site production. An important principle needs to be accepted, namely that off-site production is not something that can be adopted at some stage in a project regardless of what happens upstream and downstream. To be successful and avoid even more problems than it solves, off-site production has be be part of the project design and programme. Following on from the BSRIA briefing, Modern Building Services will be featuring off-site production in the next issue. Make sure you receive your copy by filling in the reader application card right alongside these very words, or register on line at www.modbs.co.uk/subscribe.html

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