Secure pipelines of work are crucial for the future establishment of offsite construction, Osborne CEO Andy Steele has said.
The contractor’s chief executive told Construction News that increasing the use of offsite construction, which has often been touted as the future of the industry, would need working practices to become more factory-based rather than the traditional “volatile” construction sector.
And he said that in a factory with fixed machine and building costs, the industry needs “a factory line mentality”.
“We do a lot of schools. If you’re producing a secondary school and suddenly the Treasury doesn’t sign it off for two or three months, suddenly the factory has a hole in its books.
“That’s the biggest issue, getting the regularity of workflow through the factory. That brings us back to the viability of the factory and the investment into technology and innovation.”
Mr Steele was speaking to CN prior to the government’s recent statement that it would not make modern methods of construction a requirement for use on publicly financed housebuilding projects.
He said that the benefits of offsite could be significant, drastically cutting times on projects and reducing their environmental impacts, and that success would lead to more success in use of the technology by enabling more investment into innovation.
“It’s all about the investment into the offsite we can afford. The only reason that we can afford to is that we’re private company and so we can afford to have a longer term outcome.
“We’ve got a shopping list of the next stage of technology that we want in terms of slightly different mechanisms, robotics, tools and equipment that will make these factories [more] efficient.”
But he cautioned that the “fragmented industry” leads to “duplication of innovation”.
“The number of manufacturing companies springing up at the moment when you look at housing and education it’s not going to deliver a huge amount against the demands of industry,” he added.
Mr Steele acknowledged that offsite was not really on the government’s radar, adding: “Construction not on government’s radar at all. We need government to step back and look at what is fundamentally a key industry, especially in the new world, post-Brexit.
“We need, we need strong infrastructure projects we need we need a strong social infrastructure.”
Mr Steele was speaking about the issue to CN prior to last week’s announcement that the firm had made 16 people, including chief operating officer Ronnie Chadwick, redundant.
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