Offsite manufacturing: the big picture

By Luke Osborne, ECA Energy & Emerging Technologies Solutions Advisor

Offsite construction is fast becoming a key mechanism for delivering projects of all sizes.

An ECA survey of businesses in the electrotechnical and engineering services industry has revealed that, as well as speed and efficiency, offsite construction can offer a range of other benefits to industry and society.

Almost two thirds (61 per cent) of survey respondents reported increased productivity, and nearly one in two (47 per cent) reported enhanced employee safety. More than half saw improved quality of work (57 per cent), reduced operational costs (59 per cent) and less project downtime (55 per cent).

Many respondents (43 per cent) also experienced a reduction in their carbon footprint – an increasingly important performance indicator for UK businesses in light of the Government’s commitment to ‘net zero’ carbon emissions by 2050.

However, the biggest barriers to carrying out offsite manufacturing were identified as a lack of suitably skilled staff and a high level of ongoing investment.

Despite these barriers, the vast majority (81 per cent) of businesses agreed that offsite manufacturing will offer them new commercial opportunities in the future.

Significantly, 42% of larger businesses (those with turnover of £5m plus) said that they would be using offsite construction within five years, in part due to requirements from their buyers.

Many early-adopters who have embraced this way of working are already reaping some of the benefits above, and the UK has developed the Construction Innovation Hub and is actively funding innovative developments in the field.

ECA will continue to track progress in our sector towards offsite manufacturing and provide regular updates on the state-of-play in this increasingly important area – stay up to date at www.eca.co.uk.

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