The Product Platform Rulebook, published initially in draft form for consultation, is described as marking “new era of collaboration and innovation for construction sector in the UK”.
The Construction Innovation Hub is a government- funded joint enterprise of the Building Research Establishment, the Manufacturing Technology Centre (MTC) and the Centre for Digital Built Britain (CDBB). Its mission is to lead a revolution in UK construction methodologies to increase the proportion of work done offsite, in controlled factory environments. It embraces everything from prefabs to system builds, with large building components arriving on site that can be quickly and simply assembled by crane.
It is a vision supported by the government and its Construction Leadership Council.
The Product Platform Rulebook* is an open-access guide to support construction clients, consultants, contractors, manufacturers and product suppliers in building capability and capacity to develop and deploy product platforms to meet demand.
It sets out seven rules: Deployability, Configurability, Common, Repeatable Elements, Defined Interfaces, Quality Standard, Structured Approach to Configuration and Openness. It also sets out the principles that should be applied in conjunction with the rules.
The hope is that this 60-page ‘rulebook’ will encourage clients to specify 'a platform approach' – the currently approved jargon for systems of building using large prefabricated panels and components.
Construction Innovation Hub director Keith Waller said: “The collaboration involved to get to this point has been exceptional – our beta Rulebook has been produced by industry and today marks the start of a further round of consultation. I look forward to seeing the rulebook evolve as it becomes the basis for platform approaches.”
Construction minister Lee Rowley, who co-chairs the Construction Leadership Council, said: “Platform-based approaches are an example of how we can use digital and offsite manufacturing technologies to drive the transformation of the construction industry in the UK, improving its performance and delivering better outcomes for clients.
“This Platform Rulebook will help both construction clients and firms in the supply chain adopt more standardised parts by using product platforms to deliver new buildings and infrastructure, significantly improving productivity, quality, safety and sustainability.”
Tideway chief executive Andy Mitchell, the industry-side co-chair of the Construction Leadership Council, was equally keen: “The Construction Leadership Council supports transformational change to the performance of our sector. The move to platform-based approaches to deliver is one such transformation. This requires a clear understanding of what the change will look like for companies across the sector, so we welcome and support the publication of the Platform Rulebook as a guide for anyone looking to work in this emerging area.”
Ron Lang, technical director of consulting engineer Atkins, said: "The rulebook is a fantastic example of what can be achieved when we work together for the benefit of the sector. The rulebook brings much needed clarity to the subject of product platforms in construction and ensures client's and industry alike understand the benefits of product platform approaches, and how and when to develop and deploy them.
“We firmly believe that the uptake of, and continuous improvement in, product platforms will enable us to deliver greater social environmental and economic outcomes from what we deliver and how we deliver it, and lead to a more profitable, more sustainable model for our industry. To that end, we hope that the launch of the rulebook signposts the start of an ongoing collaboration between government and industry."
* The Product Platform Rulebook can be found at constructioninnovationhub.org.uk