Embrace MMC to ensure delivery of key infrastructure, say webinar panellists

Fully embracing off-site construction and modern methods of construction (MMC) is essential to meet ambitious net zero targets, boost the post-Covid recovery and help the UK’s levelling-up ambitions, according to leading industry figures at the first Infrastructure Intelligence webinar of the year on Friday 11 February 2022.

The webinar, organised with the Association for Consultancy and Engineering (ACE), previewed an upcoming new ACE report on off-site manufacturing and its role in delivering the government’s Project Speed agenda. 

Due to be published on Tuesday 15 February 2022, the new ACE report, Project Speed and off-site manufacturing, is expected to argue that there needs to be a transformation in the way that the built environment is designed and delivered in order to address the delivery challenges that the construction sector faces - and a key part of that challenge is making off-site manufacturing a natural part of many built environment projects.

Opening the webinar, Guto Davies, head of policy at ACE, emphasised the importance of MMC in delivering the government’s net zero and levelling-up ambitions, especially with the combined effects of Covid and Brexit affecting the industry over the last two years.

"Ambitions around levelling up, net zero and the post-Covid recovery could all be boosted thanks to a wider adoption of off-site which offers the possibility for swift delivery and the potential to unlock social value."
Guto Davies, head of policy, ACE

“I’m very clear in my mind that government commitments on offsite need to be realised if we are to see off-site fulfilling its undoubted potential for better, greener and faster delivery in the built environment,” said Davies. “Ambitions around levelling up, net zero and in the more immediate-term around post-pandemic recovery, could all be boosted thanks to a wider adoption of off-site which not only has the potential to unlock social value, but offers the possibility for swift delivery. The more good examples we can promote, the better,” he said.

Trudi Sully, impact director at the Construction Innovation Hub, said: “Being able to deliver the public sector infrastructure that the country needs means fully embracing MMC. There’s a huge pipeline of work to deliver, but in turn the market needs to respond and build its MMC capabilities, which needs industry collaboration.

“Realising the benefits of MMC will also help meet the ambitions of levelling up the UK and we need to make sure these things don’t disappear off the agenda. The key for us is to join up the dots around the fantastic work across the industry and present a compelling case to showcase the benefits of MMC.”

Ryan Lester, project manager at Gleeds, outlined how using MMC helped deliver Cwmbran’s new Grange University Hospital in record time without compromising on quality. He said: “Time and quality were key factors in getting the project set up and ready to roll. Using MMC meant a 43-week time saving in delivering the project compared to traditional methods and the hospital was delivered with zero defects listed. So, in this and many other cases, the use of off-site manufacture has been an overwhelming success and can provide a strong template for the future.”

Dan Hagan, technical director and MMC lead for property and buildings at WSP, said: “Sustainability and net zero is leading us more and more towards MMC. In short, the opportunities for adopting MMC and off-site manufacture on any project are endless - positively endless!”

Andy Walker, Infrastructure Intelligence editor, said: “It’s clear that MMC and off-site manufacture need to be fully embraced by all clients - public and private - to successfully deliver a huge pipeline of national infrastructure works. However, our industry also needs to promote more effectively the benefits of this way of delivering projects and take all stakeholders along with them on the journey.

"The forthcoming ACE report, Project Speed and off-site manufacturing, should provide some key insights on how best to do this and I would urge everyone to download it and read it when it launches on Tuesday next week.”

Click here to watch a recording of the webinar.

The Infrastructure Intelligence LIVE series of events is organised in association with our Events and Communications Strategic Partner, BECG

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