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'Offsite' Initiative Brings Benefits

8 October 2014

Costain is taking an active role in developing a sector-wide strategy to develop ‘offsite construction’ techniques for the infrastructure industry, an initiative that will improve quality and safety, and reduce project costs through improved resource, timing and project management.

Representatives from the industry, including both contractors, designers and clients, have attended a number of workshops to identify the benefits, risks and potential strategies for implementing increased ‘offsite construction’ that a client organisation or supply chain might undertake. The first workshop took place in December 2013 and the second in May 2014.

Initiated by CH2M HILL with the support of Loughborough University and in collaboration with some of the biggest names in the construction industry, ‘offsite construction’ aims to help companies make better use of offsite manufacturing and standardisation and pre-assembly techniques during the construction process.

‘Offsite’ is a conglomeration of many, largely material or technology-based, supply networks. At its heart is a need to harness new technologies and develop a much closer working relationship with suppliers and subcontractors.

The concept has been used to great effect in the manufacturing sector for many years, most notably in the aeronautic and automotive industries. In infrastructure, research is currently taking place to see how offsite opportunities can add best value, to develop an in-depth understanding through case study analysis of specific offsite solutions, and employing a systems-thinking approach to assist in maintaining and employing the knowledge gained in order to ensure best practice.

Steve Fozard, a Supply Chain Manager who attended the ‘offsite construction’ workshops on behalf of Costain, said the Government’s Building Information Modelling (BIM) agenda was often at the centre of the discussions, largely because it is seen as an initiative that could support offsite implementation. It is also seen as an example for how the industry can innovate rapidly when appropriate actions are taken.

“Changes in information technology, such as BIM, coupled with supplier investment in new production processes are driving new thinking in offsite construction. This enables clients, consultants and contractors to rethink the ways in which traditional flows of information and products form to create new infrastructure,” explained Steve.

‘Offsite construction’ is in line with Costain’s ‘factory thinking’ approach to civil engineering, which promotes a more systems-led engineering approach, including offsite prefabrication and a more standardised approach to construction where product selection, prefabrication and offsite construction can lead to a much swifter and safer onsite assembly process.

The next ‘offsite workshop’ is scheduled at CH2M Hill London for Friday 17th October.

For more information on offsite construction in Infrastructure, and to read the findings from the two previous workshops, please click on the links below:

Offsite Construction in Infrastructure, First Workshop Report

Offsite Construction in Infrastructure, Second Workshop Report




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