The UK’s construction sector is a major part of the national economy, representing approximately 8% of GDP, almost 10% of employment and £150bn of annual investment according to the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS).
As well as the direct economic benefits provided by construction, the sector also enables wider growth and development by providing the homes and infrastructure that forms the foundations of life and business.
However, the sector has been struggling with a question of scale and is struggling to meet demand for new homes, offices and more. The current market-led solutions have come up short and there is an urgent need to innovate in the sector and find new ways of doing business which are able to satisfy demand. Another critical factor is the need to progress to a sustainable construction model which can contribute towards the fight against climate change rather than exacerbate the climate emergency.
One of the solutions to these problems which is attracting a major amount of investment is Modern Methods of Construction – also known as MMC. What defines MMC is a focus on off-site construction in mass-produced, factory-assembly conditions which speeds up the process and increases the quality of the final product. In essence, MMC offers an opportunity to reshape the construction industry and make it fit for the 21st century when implemented correctly.
The properties and characteristics of MMC are such that they can supplement existing capacities and capabilities where appropriate, as well as replacing entirely the existing models and practises where there is the chance to do so. While we should be careful to note that MMC will not fix every issue the construction industry has, there is no doubt that the techniques and products in the sector can make huge, positive changes on a short timescale if the investment and will to do so are present.
What are the key benefits of Modern Methods of construction (MMC)?
A combination of factors, including failures in terms of cost, quality and quantity, has come to define traditional methods of construction in the UK. As this situation has become clearer, the industry and relevant government bodies have come to view MMC as a natural solution which should form the backbone of construction in the future.
The main advantages of MMC include:
- Manufacturing – Transferring as much production as possible to off-site factories provides myriad benefits. Improved quality control and increased efficiency cut down on waste and boost productivity by enabling faster construction on site. Additionally, taking production to an off-site location reduces disruption and movement on site which helps to minimise carbon emissions and creates a safer environment for workers.
- Digitisation – By using MMC, almost every part of the process of design and production can be digitised. Whether this means using computer models to design every aspect of a material, tracking the product through each stage of manufacture, improving the quality control process, or anything else – the upside is that an extremely high level of precision is achieved throughout the process which results in a superior product and increases confidence on all sides, from stakeholders to investors to end users.
- Performance – Due to the high level of quality control and precision inherent in MMC, the performance of a product can be tracked more easily throughout its life, even following the completion of the development. This creates a cycle of information which can be fed back into every stage of the process, from procurement to installation, that will allow MMC and the wider construction industry to offer continual improvements over time. This level of innovation is required, and will mirror advances in other areas of development such as the installation of digital technologies and the internet of things which are revolutionising energy usage and playing a major role in the decarbonisation of construction and property development.
These advantages are driving change within the sector by fundamentally improving our collective approach to design and construction. Whole buildings can be designed digitally and built to precise specifications in a quality-controlled factory environment.
Case study: The benefits of Specwall
Specwall is an advanced walling system which provides a perfect example of how the use of MMC can benefit a development at every stage. Our factory-made modular wall system is a versatile, precision-engineered product which can be used across all types of building as an alternative to:
- Drylining / plasterboard systems
- Risers - dry risers and smoke risers / smoke shaft
- Lift shafts
- Concrete cores and stairwells
- Bathroom pods
Each system is designed digitally by our Technical Team to meet the needs of the client, and the product is then manufactured off-site before being delivered to the development for installation. This can be done at an early stage before the building is water tight, offering significant programme savings and protection for other internal elements. Furthermore, the ease of construction enabled by the precise off-site production means that the amount of labour needed to install the wall system is reduced by as much as 55% according to time and motion studies.
The nature of it’s off-site, MMC manufacture means that Specwall is built to the exact size and shape needed, creating minimal waste – and what waste is created on-site during the installation can be fully reused or recycled, including the dust. This applies whether a project requires standard internal partitions or a more unusual shape for a specific purpose.
The above benefits only scratch the surface of what MMC products are able to achieve. The future is here for the construction industry, and it is ready to revolutionise the sector. For more information about how Specwall can benefit your development, get in touch with our team by clicking here >>