Will Other Developers Follow Balfour Beatty’s Commitment to Reducing Onsite Construction?

Balfour Beatty recently published a policy paper confirming its intention of using more offsite construction and modular, components, thereby reducing its onsite building practices. Its published goal is to transfer 25% of its present onsite work to factories.

Leo Quinn, chief executive at Balfour Beatty, says that a shift towards industrialised construction, as he calls the offsite method, will create better efficiencies and also more jobs.

Mr. Quinn said that on a national level, the move from onsite building to industrialised construction will create thousands of jobs across the UK over the next few years if steps are taken in that direction now.

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Today, many businesses using prefabrication and modular construction are required to import products because the UK market lacks capacity to meet their needs. Under the new system, new factories set up in areas of economic need throughout the country could give local economies a much-needed boost and provide local workforces with additional skills. Mr. Quinn said that if the initiative is carried out correctly, UK workforces will have a new expertise and a huge export opportunity will appear.

He stated that at Balfour Beatty, the belief is that if the UK does not find a way to embrace this agenda, it will miss the opportunity to enjoy its far-reaching benefits and allow competitors from overseas, many of which are more advanced in offsite construction than the UK, to gain an advantage. To address barriers such as procurer unwillingness to use the new system to the UK markets lack of capacity to produce it- the time has come to progress beyond traditional mindsets regarding construction and create a profitable arrangement between specifiers and designers, customers, and the construction supply chain.

Mr. Quinn said that more needed to be done to educate and inform the industry, in order to create an evidence base about the advantages of offsite and modular building and improve understanding about the factors essential to success, such as aggregating schemes over a longer period of time as opposed to dealing with each one individually; the importance of repeatability, and the need for a less adversarial and more collaborative approach in creating infrastructure.

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