Parliament believes the UK construction industry is not improving productivity as much as it should be, so the House of Lords Science & Technology Committee is looking into it.
It has set up an enquiry called Offsite Manufacture for Construction and invites the industry to submit its comments.
Why Parliament is turning its collective attention to this subject is because the UK construction industry contributes about £100billion a year to the UK economy. That is the sort of figure that interests the country's administrators, who consider if it can do that, it could probably do more if only it could get its act together.
The Lords intend to come up with a way to make it achieve more, notably through more offsite manufacturing. Stone on precast is an example of that.
The Lords' enquiry will consider the potential benefits of offsite manufacture for construction and any drawbacks and obstacles to its wider use. It will also consider how Government policy, particularly around public procurement, might need to change to encourage economically and environmentally sustainable practises in the construction industry that could facilitate offsite manufacture.
Questions the inquiry will aim to answer include:
- What are the opportunities offered by offsite manufacture for construction? What are the drawbacks to offsite manufacture for construction?
- What factors are likely to influence clients, architects, design engineers, contractors and the supply chain to choose or not to choose off-site manufacture?
- Can the benefits of standardisation and factory manufacture be realised without hampering architectural ambition? If so, how?
- What R&D is needed, and whose going to carry it out, to fully realise the potential benefits of off-site manufacture?
- What changes could be made to public procurement processes to encourage more sustainable practises in the construction industry and facilitate off-site manufacture?
Lord Patel, who chairs the House of Lords Science & Technology Committee, says: “The construction industry is vital to solving some of the pressing problems facing the UK, such as a lack of affordable housing and replacing ageing infrastructure. While offsite manufacturing is not a new idea, the level of technology now available means it is much more viable as a modern method of construction than it might have been in the past. The enquiry will consider how offsite manufacture might contribute to improving productivity within the construction industry and how it will fit in with the construction sector deal announced by the government."
He encourages anyone able to inform the enquiry to submit evidence, although you will have to be quick because the enquiry, which was only announced on 28 March, wants submissions by 26 April. And they have to be written. They can be submitted here...