Balfour Beatty’s latest policy paper is called 25% by 2025: Streamlined construction - seven steps to offsite and modular building1.
Chief executive Leo Quinn argues that while a shift to offsite construction – or industrialised construction, as he calls it – would create efficiencies, it would also create more jobs overall.
“On a national level, industrialised construction would lead to the creation of thousands of jobs across the country over the next few years - if we invest now. Whereas today, many of those using prefabrication and modular approaches are forced to import products due to the lack of capacity in the UK market, new factories established in areas of economic need across Britain could rapidly boost local economies and upskill local workforces. If we get this right, the ‘by-product’ is thus a new expertise for the UK and a massive export opportunity,” he says.
He continues: “At Balfour Beatty, we believe that if we do not find a way as a country to commit more firmly to this agenda we will miss the opportunity to reap its game-changing benefits and allow overseas competitors – in many cases more advanced in this area than our domestic companies – to steal a march on us. To address the existing barriers – from the reluctance of procurers to use it and the lack of capacity in the UK market to produce it – the time has come to move beyond traditional construction mind-sets and create a virtuous triangle – among designers/specifiers, customers and the construction supply chain.
“More must be done to educate and inform – both to build the evidence base about the benefits of offsite and modular building, and also to improve understanding about elements which are key to success, such as the need to aggregate schemes over a longer timeframe rather than dealing with each scheme individually; the importance of building in repeatability and the need for a more collaborative, less adversarial approach in commissioning infrastructure.”