Off-site modular supply - getting it right

Off-site modular construction

“Off-site is not out-of-sight”. Top 3 things construction need to nail

Off-site construction benefits are well documented, but just procuring modular or prefabricated units is not enough. The benefits gained from manufacturing in a factory setting are not automatic. Early adopters of this construction method are finding that it brings a whole new set of challenges.

However, the benefits are worth it. Who can’t afford to reduce lead times and overall costs, along with achieving better quality and reducing site waste?

To help you maximise the potential gains, here are our top three recommended actions.

1. Link off-site production to the construction plan

Make sure you work closely with the supplier on clear and visible performance targets. It’s essential they understand exactly what product you require, when you require it and the expected finished quality standard. Equally, feedback on production output is essential for smooth operations on site.

This is just as important for near-site manufacture as it is for suppliers in a different country. The cheapest and quickest solutions to deploy use a good old whiteboard and marker pens. However, there is an increasing range of digitally based solutions that allow a more instantaneous and collaborative linkage across your supply chain.

Treat the off-site facility as an extension of the construction process. Make them part of the look-ahead planning and DABs process.

2. Optimise off-site manufacturing systems

As well as having clear delivery targets the supplier must have the capacity to meet demand.  In addition, their process must be set up to achieve the agreed quality and cost targets.

We use techniques to ensure the facility is physically set up and resourced to meet demand and we integrate best practise systems. From starting early in the design phase to ensure the product is fit for purpose, to addressing operator training for manufacture, there are many facets to get right.

And that doesn’t stop once the “factory” is up and running. There are specific techniques you can deploy to keep the workplace operating safely and performing as designed.

Even better, prolonged application of the techniques will enable you to improve performance over time, and so improve your bottom line.

3. Closely co-ordinate delivery and assembly activities

Modular and pre-fabricated units are quite often very large items and need to be installed in a specific sequence. Logistics management is crucial to get the right product to site at the right time, with no damage. So it is important to analyse and design everything from the recyclable packaging and the route taken, to the frequency of transport required.

We find that setting up Just In Time (JIT) delivery systems are key, especially where storage on site is extremely limited and specialist lifting is required. You can eliminate a lot of time, expense and the potential for accidents and damage, if the unit is installed straight from the delivery vehicle. Incorporating digital applications into the solution, such as tag and track, also strengthens your logisitics management.

Unlike the factory end, the site is in a constant state of change. You must communicate constantly changing access and egress routes and the current exclusion zones, to manage safety and maintain an uninterrupted flow of work. So incorporate material delivery into your DABs sessions.

If you would like to know more about any of these aspects, or how to implement the techniques and digital solutions, then please contact us. Our team is always happy to help.

Off-site construction benefits are well documented, but just procuring modular or prefabricated units is not enough. To help you maximise the potential gains, here are our top three recommended actions.


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By Riverview Homes, Inc. - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0

You need to do more than just procure units to gain all the benefits of off-site manufacture.

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