There is a great deal of conversation in the media relating to offsite construction, modular buildings and modern methods of construction - the success of this approach is key to the future success of our construction industry. The challenge for component or material suppliers is to be able to transfer their ideas and knowledge to the specifiers and manufacturers.
A Team with Experience
It has been the experience of our Sika UK team that there is an abundance of companies in the UK with innovative ideas for offsite manufacturing in the construction industry, but they may be failing to access a much wider knowledge resource.
Many material and component suppliers from diverse industries have something to offer for offsite construction, even if their heritage is not from a construction background.
At Sika, we see our responsibility as bringing positive ideas to the table and helping manufacturers to avoid reinventing the wheel. Below are two examples of how we do that.
Adhesives Create Opportunities
The first example comes from the rail market.
In the 1980’s most trains and carriages were constructed using traditional joining technologies (welding, rivets, and other mechanical fixings). This limited design possibilities and with a greater reliance on a very skilled workforce, created a restriction on what could be achieved.
With the main train manufacturers, Sika worked on providing elastic bonding systems which helped in so many ways. It allowed design flexibility as alternative materials could be used. Mixed materials could be joined, with the use of bonded solutions allowing structural integrity to be improved dramatically. Bonded processes allowed greater process repeatability which in turn improved quality and reduced the requirement for skilled labor.
The use of elastic and structural adhesives is now common amongst all rail rolling stock manufacturers. The same recommendation would work for the offsite construction market - there is an alternative to the mechanical fix norm.
Dramatically Improve Efficiency
The second example is the automotive industry.
Whilst the offsite and modular building market still sees a degree of bespoke manufacturing, the trend is towards reducing components and design complexity, and increasing potential output. The challenge again is that many traditional construction techniques are used where an automotive manufacturing approach will see reduced costs, higher levels of efficiency, and higher quality.
The automotive market provides vehicles of different specifications allowing customers to make choices but can still have a production line running at sub 60 seconds per work-station. The automotive industry relies on building a critical mass of vehicles, so any ideas that can level out the build process and reduce build time is welcome. Whilst employing many engineers, the automotive manufacturers utilize a pool of highly experienced and knowledgeable suppliers to create ideas, new concepts, and novel ways to help them achieve their goals.
We Are Here to Help
At Sika, we believe that the offsite, modular, and MMC market can benefit from a lot of great ideas and know-how from key suppliers. An investment in key partners is extremely valuable - the challenge is for the industry to work together, to create collaboration, and more importantly to develop the right supplier partnerships.
Business Unit Manager
Industry and MMC