The call for evidence on offsite construction was made alongside publication of a US$785 billion pipeline of national infrastructure and construction projects over the next decade.
A bridge built as part of the A14 highway improvement scheme was singled out as an example demonstrating benefits of offsite construction. Parts of the 750m-long River Great Ouse viaduct were developed in a factory, meaning they were built more efficiently than if traditional methods of construction had been used, said the government.
Ministers are encouraging greater use of more modern approaches to construction to ensure maximum efficiency in building the projects set out in the pipeline. This includes the manufacturing of components in factories using digital technologies. The government has committed to increasing use of these methods in public-funded projects and is asking for views on how to encourage greater use of the techniques.
“Government is the largest client for infrastructure projects so has an important role in using its purchasing power to drive improved productivity in their delivery,” said chief executive of the Infrastructure & Projects Authority (IPA) Tony Meggs. “We recognise there is significant momentum within the sector to scale up the adoption of more modern and innovative practices and it is the role of the IPA to help coordinate this approach across new infrastructure projects. We would like to hear from a range of industry experts on government’s proposals for a Platform Approach to Design for Manufacture & Assembly.”
Chief executive of Highways England Jim O’Sullivan added: “At Highways England we recognise the productivity and efficiency challenges that the UK construction industry is facing. In recent years we have encouraged more computer-led design, automation, and pre-assembly across all of our construction activities. As well as driving productivity and efficiency, it improves worker safety and reduces delays and frustration for road users passing through our works. We will adopt ever increasing levels of automation and offsite construction on road improvement schemes and smart motorways in our next five-year road investment programme.”