On 5 June the House of Lords Science and Technology Committee, on which ICE President Lord Robert Mair sits, hosted their 4th evidence gathering session on the issue of offsite manufacture for construction.
Witnesses, including Martin Chown, Infrastructure Client Group; Ann Bentley, Construction Leadership Council; and Tony Meggs, Chief Executive at Infrastructure and Projects Authority, gave evidence at the first session, which explored the barriers to offsite construction.
They explained how the industry has a track record for procuring at the lowest cost and not necessarily pursuing best value, citing aggregation within the industry as a particular issue.
Tony Meggs Chief Executive at Infrastructure and Projects Authority told the committee: “In order to promote offsite manufacturing for construction there is a need to promote the sharing of risk and the pursuing of multiple projects over multiple years.”
Martin Chown used this opportunity to showcase Project 13
to the committee and explained it had been launched to change how projects went to market and to improve collaborative procurement.
Continuing the topic of collaboration Meggs explained that improving collaboration in procurement should be on the Government’s list of priorities alongside aggregating demands between their departments.
On Project 13, Chown explained it has been developed to improve the scope of efficiency in supply chain investment, build on long term relationships, integrate suppliers, and strategically engage suppliers early. He stated that the principles of the project were already embedded among many infrastructure clients.
Although Meggs cautioned against making offsite construction mandatory, he regarded the Government as being directive in certain areas. As an IPA representative, Meggs actively encouraged offsite construction. Meggs described how the Government sought to ensure that during the evaluation phase of projects, options were developed that considered using offsite construction.
As many as 5 governmental departments say they will use offsite manufacturing for construction unless they have a valid reason not to.
The second session which discussed government efforts was witnessed by Richard Harrington MP, Minister for Infrastructure and Construction, and Fergus Harradence, Deputy Director for Construction, Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS).
When asked what government policies improve offsite construction, Harrington replied that the CLC had a strategy to promote offsite construction for reasons of cost and environment. When questioned about the Construction Sector Deal, Harrington explained the CSD sought to involve stakeholders with government, promoting a partnership approach and added that it would be published “imminently”.
Last year ICE recommended offsite manufacturing for construction in our Autumn Budget Representation
which the Government also mention in their Autumn budget representation. The Chancellor's Budget contained many of ICE's recommendations including £170m for the Construction Sector Deal as part of the Industrial Strategy Challenge.
ICE Director General Nick Baveystock welcomed the statement: "Infrastructure is not a series of stand-alone assets. It delivers benefits through complex networks that need to be precisely managed. If we do not take the right steps we will lose out on the opportunities."
View the full session on parliamentlive.tv