Feb 25, 2019

Innovation consortium set to modernise how we build homes

The £6.5m Advanced Industrialised Methods for the Construction of Homes (AIMCH) project, funded by Innovate UK, could transform how homes are built through industrialisation.

A collaborative innovation project, which aims to help tackle the UK housing crisis by using industrialised offsite solutions to deliver high quality homes faster, more reliably and at the same cost of masonry-built homes, has been awarded funding under the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund, which is administered by Innovate UK, part of UK Research and Innovation.

The £6.5m R&D project, known as Advanced Industrialised Methods for the Construction of Homes (AIMCH), is a collaboration between Stewart Milne Group, Barratt Developments PLC, London & Quadrant Housing Trust Ltd, Tarmac Trading Ltd, the Manufacturing Technology Centre (MTC), the Construction Scotland Innovation Centre (CSIC) and Forster Roofing Services Ltd as the SME partner. The project will be managed by Limberger Associates.

Government has stated that the UK needs an additional 120,000 homes each year. The housing sector faces many challenges in meeting this target, including skills shortages, an aging workforce, poor productivity, low output and low affordability.

The three-year AIMCH project aims to tackle all these challenges and become a major player in the housing sector by identifying and developing industrialised offsite solutions needed to meet current and future housebuilding demands. These will be trialled on live housing projects, with successful new methods then being commercialised and brought to market in volume.

It is expected that AIMCH will result in new digital design tools, manufacturing advancements, improved near-to-market offsite systems and lean site processes. The ultimate goal of the project is to support the sector by delivering the 120,000 target for the same or less cost than traditional craft methods, which are built 30% more quickly plus have a 50% reduction in defects. The project has potential to impact on 35,000 homes being delivered by AIMCH partners across the UK, each year.

Stewart Dalgarno, AIMCH Project Director and Director of Product Development at Stewart Milne Group said: “We need tens of thousands of new homes across the UK every year, but it’s also vital that these new homes are of a higher quality, leading to increased customer satisfaction and improved building performance. Digital working and industrialised offsite construction can be part of the solution, but they have not yet broken through as viable mainstream alternatives to traditional methods of building homes. 

“AIMCH's ambition is to use industrialisation to transform how we build our homes in the UK, leading to more homes that can be built quickly and viably. We believe it will be the catalyst the housing sector needs to move towards advanced digital integrated manufacturing, whilst overcoming the challenges that stand between the sector today and where it needs to go in the future.”

Mike Pitts from Innovate UK said: “We are excited about the possibilities of this project, which we hope will be a game-changer for the housing sector. The partners are experienced innovators and offer scale to showcase a world-leading solution. It brings CSIC and MTC’s innovation and industrialisation capability together with high profile housing and offsite manufacturing providers, who provide scale and a clear route to market.  It has the potential to deliver wider sector benefits in terms of jobs, investment and growth.”

Further information can be found on the AIMCH website: www.aimch.co.uk

About Stewart Milne Group (Lead Industry Partner – Housing & OSM Supply Chain)

SMG is a independent medium size house builder and the UK’s largest offsite timber frame specialist with award winning housing innovation.  SMG develops 1,000 homes and provides 7,500 offsite timber frame homes for 3rd party clients. SMG seeks to innovate through digital working, advanced manufacturing and offsite construction, doubling output for internal and external housing clients.

About Barratt Developments PLC (Industry Partner - Private Housing)

As the UK’s largest housebuilder Barratt is leading the industry with its adoption of modern methods of construction and offsite production. This leadership position is based on the breadth of technologies it is actively trialling and the strength of its supply chain relationships. The move to embrace offsite and MMC technology is also based on helping to address the long term skills shortages that are evident right across the UK housing sector.

Barratt Developments plc sold 17,579 homes in the year to June 2018, making it the biggest housebuilder by volume in Britain. Over the past six years Barratt Group has increased its housing output by more than 40% - building more of the homes the country needs. Barratt is committed to building quality homes and this year received more NHBC Pride in the Job awards than any other housebuilder and retained its HBF 5 star rating for customer satisfaction for 9 years in a row. For more information visit www.barrattdevelopments.co.uk

About London & Quadrant Housing Trust Ltd (Industry Partner – social housing)
L&Q is a regulated housing association and one of the UK’s most successful social businesses. We house around 250,000 people in 92,000 homes, primarily across London and the South East. As a not-for-profit organisation, we reinvest all the money we make into new and existing homes, creating successful communities and providing excellent services.

We will tackle the housing crisis by building 100,000 new homes over ten years. At least 50% of these will be genuinely affordable, with a target of 60% in London.

We invest in a £250 million community Foundation and £5 million a year skills academy to build opportunity and confidence in our communities.

About Tarmac (Industry Partner – OSM Supply Chain)

Tarmac, a CRH company, is the UK’s leading sustainable building materials and construction solutions business. It combines the knowledge and expertise of two of the construction industry’s most iconic brands: Tarmac, the pioneers of the modern road and Blue Circle, the company that patented Portland Cement.

The company's innovative products and solutions not only safely deliver the infrastructure needed to grow the UK economy today but also help to create a more sustainable built environment for the country’s long term future. Tarmac has contributed to some of the UK’s biggest construction projects, including The Sainsbury Laboratory, Wembley Stadium, Heathrow Terminal 5, Blackpool Sea Defences, The Shard and London 2012.

With over 150 years of experience Tarmac directly employs around 8,000 people across a nationwide network of over 400 sites. Its solutions span aggregates, asphalt, cement, lime, readymix concrete, offsite manufacture, road contracting, highways maintenance and infrastructure services and building products.

www.tarmac.com

About Forster Roofing (Industry Partner – SME Sub contractor)

Part of the Forster Group, Forster Roofing is Scotland’s largest integrated roofing and solar company, covering one-in-five new homes in Scotland. Recognised for its innovative approach and commitment to excellence, Forster work extensively with Industry and Government bodies to raise standards and drive change. Recognised for its work in areas like skills, training and education, where the Forster Skills Academy is bringing a new perspective to Construction Apprenticeships.

At Forster, innovation sits at the heart of a strategic approach to sustainable, long-term growth, and the search for solutions to industry challenges, including quality, productivity and an integrated low carbon energy future.

About Manufacturing Technology Centre (MTC) – Lead Research Partner

MTC is part of the Transforming Construction Alliance to deliver a national innovation hub for construction sector, as required within ISCF Transforming Construction program. The core innovation hub will support collaboration to commercialize digital, manufacturing and offsite technologies for the sector & is a perfect research partner for AIMCH. MTC bring transferable learning from other manufacturing sectors, such as automotive. MTC have established partnerships with CDBB & BRE specialising in DFMA, digitisation and construction productivity measurement.

About Construction Scotland Innovation Centre (CSIC) – Research & Dissemination Partner

CSIC supports Scotland’s construction related businesses to innovate, collaborate and grow by matching innovation requirements with business support and academic specialists. Focusing on innovation support around Business models, Products, Processes and Service models, CSIC offers advice, funding, facilitation and access to cutting edge equipment and expertise, improving Scotland’s global competitiveness and delivering social, environmental and economic impact. CSIC facilitates collaboration with Scottish businesses, academia (through 13 partner universities) and public sector organisations, enabling projects to benefit from Scotland’s world renowned skills and expertise in areas such as BIM, Advanced Materials, Automation and Robotics, Low Carbon Solutions, Virtual and Augmented Reality and Smart Cities.

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