SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY SELECT COMMITTEE Off-site manufacture for construction: Building for change Oral and Written evidence Full Transcript and written evidence Report https://drive.google.com/file/d/1KogcbPMpxjVPCi67wtGAb0TkRQ_XEASD/view?usp=sharing 15:25:13 Witness(es): Professor Jeremy Watson CBE, Vice-Dean of Engineering Sciences and Professor of Engineering Systems, University College London Mr Phil Wilbraham, Expansion Programme Director, Heathrow Airport Professor Jennifer Whyte, Director of the Centre for Systems Engineering and Innovation, Imperial College London
Professor Jeremy Watson: Housing for me is where we have the real gap in capacity against the objectives the Government have, and we are massively underperforming there. There is quite a lot of investment going on in various housebuilding companies and in some of the case studies that we have submitted they have been able to demonstrate benefits. At BRE we have a number of full-scale houses that were built on-site that people live in to try them out. This type of off-site manufacture can be quite small scale. It can be done in pop-up factories or in small local units. I guess that contrasts with, say, Laing O’Rourke which has a factory in Steetley working on very large concrete reinforced structures, which 566 are very specialised and more bespoke. There is a whole spectrum and that is probably less advanced but some countries are leading edge. At the housing end we are probably just a procurement gap away from doing much more of it because it is not that difficult to set up. There are some other interesting points you raised about the Government’s interventions, and those of you who have looked at building information modelling—BIM—which of course was mandated as of April last year or the year before, will know that government procurement above £5 million-worth has to use building information modelling, which is an essential ingredient for what we are talking about today. It is an essential ingredient but it does not specify off-site manufacture in itself. The point there is that the procurement rules can be very effective. The residual question around procurement when I started thinking about it—it sounds great, the Government procures against certain requirements—is: will the private sector follow, will shareholders of public companies say, “The Government are doing this so why are we not?” I do not see much evidence of that at the moment and that deserves some research and understanding.15.45
24th April House of Lords evidence Lord Renfrew of Kaimsthorn: Is not transportation sometimes a problem? Professor Jeremy Watson: Indeed. Going back to BRE, one particular building was put up that required 60-tonne loads which were too large for some of the motorways so we had to choose the route. Again, that is a case of systems design, how you break it down and what granularity of the modularity you are seeking. The smaller you get it—think of Lego blocks—the more flexible you can be with the solution. Also, manufacturing close to the point of consumption, as was said by Phil, is absolutely key. We do not want one big factory off-site in the middle of the country and an overloaded infrastructure. There are some so-called pop-up factories these days. For some domestic buildings, for example from Bill Dunster’s ZEDfactory, they will put up a temporarymanufacturing unit and take it down again when they have finished. @15.39.47 16:38:21 Witness(es): Ms Rosie Toogood, CEO, Legal and General Modular Homes Mr Jamie Ratcliff, Assistant Director, Greater London Authority Mr Tim Carey, National Product Director, Willmott Dixon Witnesses: Dr Mark Bew MBE, Chair, PCSG, and Mr Mark Enzer, Chief Technical Officer, Mott MacDonald 16:31:59 Witnesses: Mr Mark Farmer, CEO, Cast, Mr Steve Radley, Director of Policy, Construction Industry Training Board, Mr Mark Reynolds, Chief Executive, Mace, and Mr Dick Elsy, CEO, High Value Manufacturing Catapult Witness(es): Mr Andrew Morris, Partner, Rogers Stirk Harbour Ms Jane Richards, Director, Building structures, WSP Mr Jamie Johnston, Director, Bryden Wood Witness(es): Dr Sarah Williamson, Technical Director, Laing O'Rourke Mr Martin Kelly, Strategic Business Development Director, Severfield Mr David Hurcomb, Chief Executive, NG Bailey 15:31:38 Witness(es): Ms Suzannah Nichol MBE, Chief Executive, Build UK Mr Simon Rawlinson, Construction Industry Council Dr Diana Montgomery, Chief Executive, Construction Products Association 16:35:14 Witness(es): Mr Andrew Wolstenholme OBE, Co-Chair, Construction Leadership Council 15:25:19 Witnesses: Mr Tony Meggs, Chief Executive, Infrastructure and Projects Authority, Ms Ann Bentley, Global Practice Director, Rider Levett Bucknall, Mr Matin Chown, Infrastructure Client Group 16:32:11 Witnesses: Mr Richard Harrington MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Minister for Infrastructure and Construction), Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Q74 Lord Griffiths of Fforestfach: The Chancellor said that five government departments are going to adopt a “presumption in favour” of modern methods of construction, including off-site, next year. When I first read that expression, I felt that it could have been lifted from a script of “Yes Minister”, because it can mean almost anything. Richard Harrington MP: It probably was. Lord Griffiths of Fforestfach: I am sure that was not on your mind, as you have a very practical understanding of what it means. Will you spell that out for us? When I worked in No. 10 I found that co-operation between two government departments was difficult, so to get to five, and to add in the Treasury if it is one of them, will be very complex. Richard Harrington MP: The Treasury is not directly involved in this. Let me explain which departments are. I have not had the pleasure of working in No. 10 as Lord Griffiths and Baroness Morgan have. I cannot speak for other members, but Baroness Neville-Jones has worked in buildings adjacent to No. 10, I know. Lord Griffiths of Fforestfach: Sounds sinister. https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/the-construction-playbook The Construction Playbook captures commercial best practices and specific sector reforms outlining the government’s expectations of how contracting authorities and suppliers, including the supply chain, should engage with each other. These are set out in 14 key policies for how the government should assess, procure and deliver public works projects and programmes which all central government departments and their arms length bodies are expected to follow on a ‘comply or explain’ basis.
Use of frameworks Frameworks are an efficient method for government to procure public works, goods and services and can provide an opportunity for contracting authorities to access economies of scale. However, using frameworks inappropriately can have negative consequences for contracting authorities, markets and suppliers, and can unintentionally inflate prices.