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Meeting the Increased Demand for Modular Building Solutions

Following the government announcement regarding the presumption in favour of offsite construction, factory-based building technology must be considered for all public sector building projects. Because of this, UK demand for modular construction is on the rise. As an optimum offsite building technique for timber, steel and concrete designs, modular construction is considered a potential solution to the housing crisis. The Modular & Portable Building Association (MPBA) is at the forefront of pre-fabricated manufacturing processes and is supporting members across numerous sectors to enhance innovation and technological advancements.

Practical building systems that deliver at scale and increase productivity are needed to create solutions for the shortfall in housing stock. The best building systems go through multiple incarnations before reaching the optimal performance. As experts in the modular volumetric industry, the MPBA invest in ongoing research to support member companies. By assisting with the introduction of innovative methods and processes that are used in other industries, such as automotive and aerospace, the MPBA help improve productivity and address the UK’s home shortage, revolutionising the house-building sector. According to The Times, each year another 15,000 modular homes are built, and the government plans to increase offsite manufacturers’ financial allowance to build 100,000 per year by 2020.

Offsite manufacture for construction refers to building processes that are implemented away from building sites in factories or specialist temporary production facilities close to construction sites to ensure quality of pre-fabricated components. Fundamental to offsite manufacture, modular building minimises waste while maximising safety and minimises costs while maximising quality.

Though benefits of modular building have been known for decades, critical success factors and large-scale enablers for optimal industrial modularisation have only recently underlined the need for engineering, procurement and construction project delivery systems to be developed for the optimum use of modular technology.

Jackie Maginnis, MPBA’s Chief Executive, explains: “Construction clients appreciate cutting-edge building techniques, particularly with the short lead times of modular construction. Modular buildings are energy efficient, fully compliant with building regulations and can be tailored to meet individual customer requirements. By becoming an MPBA member, you will join an association of professionals and gain access to networking sessions, training courses and events that will add significant value to your company. With MPBA’s assistance, your company will be able to stay competitive in the modular and portable building multi-billion-pound industry.”

Modular building is most prevalent in housing, health and education sectors, with over 450 new schools and classrooms required per annum under the Priority School Building Programme (PSBP). However, offsite building practices are rapidly expanding in non-residential applications too, including hotels and student accommodation.

The demand for customisation in modular building compels the manufacturing industry to develop new methods for adaption of mass production to meet individual customer needs. Because of this, design processes have evolved in line with construction processes. The MPBA assists members in their collaboration with architects, designers and engineers to orchestrate design protocols, conceive products for manufacturing processes and integrate these into final designs.

Production and configuration processes have been developed by conducting functional requirement analysis to identify design parameters for modular construction. These methods typically constrain project modularisation through four key parameters:

  • Customer requirements for modular design
  • Engineering view according to deflection, strength, wind loads, fire, acoustic and building regulations
  • Product dimensions and transportation constraints according to factory regulations and capacity
  • Onsite assembly constraints according to site layout and plans

Rules of modular buildings can be integrated into architectural CAD drawings using Revit structures, where key features of steel, concrete and timber modules can be incorporated in ‘modular toolkits.’

Through detailed research, development of modular building methodologies enables developers and stakeholders to deliver projects with accelerated schedule and cost reductions, creating a panacea of cost-effective construction methods on a consistent basis.

If you would like to get involved in developing new specification and procurement methodologies for modular building techniques, book your place at an MPBA event or get in touch to find out how modular construction can meet your building specifications.

For more information go to: www.mpba.biz

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