Realising offsite construction in the civil engineering and infrastructure sector
2016-12-19T10:01:08Z (GMT) by
Offsite construction solutions have gained significant prominence over recent years. Much of the interest however, has been focussed on the building sector, in particular housing. The Civil Engineering and Infrastructure sector (CE&I) has comparatively seen little growth in this aspect. Specific exemplars for some high-profile projects, such as the Heathrow Airport control tower, do exist, but there have been far less applications of the new and emerging technologies and approaches that have been influential in the building sector recently. In addition, Offsite itself is not a well-defined supply sector, but rather a conglomeration of various, largely material or technology-based supply networks. This makes it difficult to realise new opportunities, especially in different sectors of the construction industry. This thesis is the culmination of a four-year Engineering Doctorate (EngD) research programme investigating the components that affect the realisation of offsite in the CE&I sector. It commences with an introduction to the research and its aims and objectives, and moves on to present the methodological considerations. During the four Work Packages (WP) conducted, a total of 78 individuals participated and contributed to workshop and interviews, together with an extensive critical review of literature. All primary and secondary data was examined with appropriate methods, such as a comparative case study and an emergent thematic analysis, upon which a series of conclusions and subsequently recommendations were drawn. The findings clearly identify that CE&I is more risk averse, and defines offsite differently, to the building sector. Each CE&I sub-sector has specific drivers and barriers to offsite, and due to the relative longevity of CE&I projects (both procurement, design, and construction) makes it difficult to benchmark and quantify offsite and its benefits. Large programmes of works rather than small projects are key to realising offsite as they provide confidence to the supply chain of long term investment. In addition, clients are pivotal for driving offsite as they can influence the industry s focus; nevertheless, investment cycles in infrastructure clients hinders offsite realisation. For holistic offsite implementation organisation need to have a top-down strategy. Therefore offsite requirements should be embedded within the project delivery governance processes. Its realisation is linked directly to recruitment, training and research and development plans. Building information modelling (BIM) now plays a key part in offsite realisation in CE&I as from 2016 it will be compulsory for all centrally-funded government works. BIM however, does not directly increase the offsite implementation, but it can help enable offsite due to the ability to define the design earlier in the project lifecycle. In addition, BIM encourages the use of software that can help identify the repetition of components, therefore increasing the potential for economies to scale. Finally, with the use of such software, delivery teams can simulate the construction sequence and therefore further help to enable offsite by reducing logistical challenges.