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Accelerating innovation to meet new building targets

Stewart Dalgarno,  our Director of Product Development, discusses the future of construction.

The coronavirus pandemic has forced the construction industry to move ahead with innovative projects and products more quickly than previously estimated.  Those within the industry have realised a greater need for the wider adoption of innovative solutions in order to meet build targets. While several technologies were already established, it has now become a case of needing to accelerate their use in order to meet the demand set by a clearer focus on the housing industry.    

The work being undertaken by the Advanced Industrialised Methods for the Construction of Homes (AIMCH) project underpins this.

Bringing together significant players within the sector to transform how homes are built, with the intention of combatting the UK housing crisis, it helps to deliver vital data for better decision-making whilst supporting change and investment within the industry to streamline the construction process.

Some of the trials Stewart Milne Timber Systems have been involved in through the project have seen houses built at a much more efficient speed compared to traditional bricks and mortar construction – one home was erected in just six hours.

Since the changes brought into play by coronavirus, it’s clear to see that many who have adopted new measures plan to stick with them; and that, more and more, executives are placing real value on data that will help drive productivity.

Looking ahead to the future, with the UK Government committing to building 300,000 homes per year, we expect to see a much greater uptake of modern methods of construction – like offsite manufacturing, which allows for homes to be built more efficiently, at a lower cost and at speed.

Not only are we trying to meet housing demand by producing more, and at scale, it’s also about a meaningful response to heightened demand for ecologically responsible practices – including the use of sustainable products with a low carbon footprint.

Smart construction methods, allowing for houses to be built without the need for scaffolding, thereby reducing the number of people required on site, will continue to grow in the coming months and years – especially important to note during times of social distancing.

The future will also bring with it a more entrenched sense of collaboration in industry, allowing for the standardisation of key housing components – whether it’s window sizes, doors, or walls.  Stewart Milne Group, together with L&Q and Barratt, are currently looking at this, with the aim of providing a level of standardisation similar to what we see already in the car industry. The next step will be to work with the supply chain to develop these and trial them in future homes.

Not only will this help to improve productivity and reliability, it can also be applied to any type of building – not just housing.

The pandemic has demonstrated how quickly social change can occur – and the power of the government in driving that change through initiatives like ‘Build, Build, Build’.

At Stewart Milne Timber Systems, we are lucky to be able to continue with the manufacturing of timber frames through our factory facility, which allows for safety measures like physical distancing to be put in place. With the pandemic presenting an ever-changing challenge, we are at least safe in the knowledge that housebuilding will no longer be adversely affected where these methods of construction are adopted.

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