Understanding Offsite Construction: Great Expectations for 2019
"The gap between the early adopters and the laggards is already too wide. 2019 will need to be a year of catch-up and fast learning for many." Declan Wallace, CEO of Evolusion Innovation
Ireland's construction industry has taken great strides towards modernisation in recent years. While many will say that this is long overdue, it is nevertheless a welcome development. Now new technologies are fast becoming industry best practice. The effects of this include increased productivity across the industry without necessarily increasing the volume of labour onsite, thus helping alleviate the skilled labour deficit. Ireland, like most countries, is experiencing an alarming shortage of skilled labour and this situation is not likely to improve in the next few years. Reasons for this include our ageing workforce and the lack of new talent choosing to enter the industry over the past decade. This is hardly surprising, given that the Irish construction industry's output contracted by a conservative 60% during the global crash - in reality, some sectors contracted by more than 90%. There was never going to be a return to 'business as usual', the usual business needs to change.
While the industry has come a long way since 2012, the burgeoning marketplace we saw just two and three years ago was shown to be more fragile than expected in 2018. High profile business collapses demonstrated that we are past the point of delivering the built environment in familiar ways. The world has moved on; people expect more from their cities, homes, workplaces, and careers, and demand more value for their money. Old school construction is no longer fit for purpose. While this ought to have been anticipated, for so many reasons, it wasn't. There is no time now for the industry to spend reflecting on what change ought to have happened and when, or who was responsible for driving that change. The gap between the early adopters and the laggards is already too wide. 2019 will need to be a year of catch-up and fast learning for many.
Changes in planning regulations pertaining to building heights in urban areas means that contractors in Ireland will need to learn new ways to develop taller structures on increasingly tight or tough to access urban sites. This requires precision engineering for successful design and build. Most importantly, it requires an expert and experienced team to execute this in order to achieve the benefits inherent in offsite construction.
Adopting modern methods of construction (MMC) and offsite manufacturing and construction technologies are vital next steps for Ireland's industry.
Today's margins will no longer support the productivity of yesterday, it is simply not sustainable. Productivity is not one single issue but rather a compounded, layering of historic unwillingness to transform. MMC represents that much-needed industry transformation, and the move towards greater levels of offsite construction is inevitable.
About Evolusion Innovation:
The team at Evolusion Innovation have been involved in over €2 billion worth of offsite construction projects across Ireland, the UK and Europe over the past 15 years. www.EvolusionInnovation.com