Project IGNITE

A digital platform to help developers and builders tender and execute builds more productively together.

Last updated: 10th January 2022

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Innovation Lead: Liam Winder
Project number: 105880
UKRI funding: £1,100,133


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Housing associations are increasingly turning to Modern Methods of Construction to help deliver high volumes of homes in the UK. But these more productive manufacturing processes rely on an efficient and effective supply chain. Project IGNITE is a consortium between housing providers, systems developers and experts in modular homes. Together they are creating an integrated digital platform that allows MMC suppliers to fairly tender for new contracts. With the inclusion of the Manufacturing Execution System (MES) functionality, the platform also provides MMC suppliers with the tools to deliver homes more efficiently and effectively, while giving housing providers visibility of the manufacturing and construction process and detailed project status in real-time.

Innovation type: Digital, Manufacturing, Process, Procurement
Organisation type: ACE (Architect / Consultant Engineer), Housebuilder, Innovative SME, Manufacturer, Social housing provider, Supply chain

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Project pioneers

The Places for People Group is one of the largest property investment, development and management companies in the UK with assets of £4.9bn, more than 219,000 homes and over 100 leisure facilities. Within it, Places for People is an affordable homes provider that believes places work when they work for everyone. It designs homes, places and communities for the long term that are sustainable economically, socially and environmentally.

The problem

When procuring new homes, housing associations have specific design requirements particularly in relation to the use of Modern Methods of Construction. These design requirements set the desired performance of the new buildings to meet the long-term needs of their future customers. It is often the case that once the procurement contract is awarded, the design requirements aren't always accurately tracked and shared throughout the supply chain. Information between parties can be misinterpreted or misunderstood or their can be poor communication between the partners. As a result, housing associations lose a degree of control over the design and delivery of the buildings they are purchasing, and can find that the homes don't adequately meet their specifications. However, due to external pressures to deliver 300,000 new housing each year, the new homes are completed and acquired.


Project IGNITE will create much-needed transparency and efficiency in the procurement of new homes, especially where MMC is being stipulated. Streamlining and digitising the process will offer housing providers a better way to tender and source suppliers, and give them a greater degree of certainty that they will get the buildings they asked for. The increased certainty and transparency around design and delivery will help MMC home builders improve the productivity of their resources (employees and machines), provide more accurate should-cost models, and set reliable outputs. IGNITE will ultimately help more companies to build more houses, in less time and for less money.

Key Insight

The current target to build 300,000 new homes per year requires more diversity in the supply of new homes. Places for People has an ambitious house-building programme knowing that offsite construction will have a role to play in delivering the homes needed, using systems similar to manufacturing. Places for People believed that a digital tendering and manufacturing execution platform is the best starting point to help provide that efficiency by reducing the information gap within the supply chain. So the team set out to find a way to streamline the tendering process and improve the poor information exchange between suppliers, that was leading to briefs being misinterpreted, reinterpreted, or changes to the design being missed altogether. And it was these unintentional errors that were adding to costs, delays or missed delivery goals. The led to the start of Project IGNITE.

First step

Places for People wanted to apply existing technologies and know-how from established manufacturing industries into MMC, specifically the development of new software to deliver an integrated approach to the demand-supply chain ecosystem. It approached the MTC, for its experience in Business Optimisation, and LYNQ, a software company that was already adapting manufacturing software for other sectors. Together they started to create a single platform that would connect the needs of procurers and developers with the right vendors and supply chain partners, and ensure a project is delivered as designed. Since modular building is repetitive at some level, the team worked on integrating a product configurator with a Manufacturing Execution Systems (MES) on a single cloud platform to improve data exchange and supply chain transparency. The result was a digital tendering platform that could reflect the roles of Architects, designers and Quantity surveyors into a Manufacturing Supply chain System - or AQMSS.


MMC relies on transparent and real-time information sharing so supply chain partners can collaborate and adapt to any changes in the design, scheduling, costs, materials, processes or regulations. Without a single source of information vendors are at risk of misinterpreting or missing changes to the design and manufacturing process, and housing associations can be left with assets that don't perform as designed, are more costly or delayed.

Digital Innovation

AQMSS is a digital tendering and manufacturing execution platform that will allow multiple MMC providers to propose design and building methodologies to meet defined requirements. It delivers transparency of product design and costs, and provides a full and complete digital record of procured houses before, during and after they are built. And because AQMSS can be integrated with any Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system, contractual and financial information can be updated in real-time, without manual intervention. Digital tendering and manufacturing this way ensures that the efficiency and adaptability of offsite construction is baked into the project at the point of procurement. Registered Providers (RPs) can optimise supply chains and procure, in bulk, the components, materials, fixtures and systems it needs, reducing capital and operational costs. MMC home builders will be able to monitor, react and respond to changes in regulation, local market demand, material specifications and other design changes in real time, with transparency on both sides of the supply chain. Project IGNITE will importantly allow all supply chain partners deliver their products and services more effectively, efficiently and collaboratively, saving money and time and delivering more affordable houses that are on brief and on target. This AQMSS tool has the potential to remove barriers that are currently preventing innovative MMC providers from entering, investing and prospering in the market by lowering start-up costs, mitigating risk and facilitating a visible and assured manufacturing pipeline. Its benefits to vendors and developers are that:

  • It increases transparency so every element of the contract is seen, shared and acted upon by suppliers in a consistent and accurate way.
  • It allows suppliers to generate a should-cost estimate for the proposed house to enable better discussions and negotiations between MMC manufacturers and housing providers
  • It enables better data sharing capabilities by removing some of the version control issues and improving data accessibility.
  • It improves communication between partners and users through standardisation of the tendering process.
  • It can import design parameters and critical criteria from configurators or BIM models such as Autodesk Revit to estimate the cost of a home and/or development prior to tendering.
  • It reduces the time required to go through tendering process, releasing resources that might otherwise be used, to concentrate on value added tasks.
  • The product configurator enables more precise design generation and standardisation, by utilising check rules engine which will reduce design clashes.
  • It streamlines workflows by enabling jobs to be loaded directly into a manufacturing execution system (MES) which controls and drives efficiency in the manufacturing process.
  • It provides manufacturers with the tools to continuously improve quality and drive efficiencies in their processes, to increase the adoption of MMC homes as the preferred choice of a sustainable future.
  • It brings digital skills into construction with the creation of higher-value, highly-skilled manufacturing jobs within dedicated MMC factories.
  • The platform is affordable and openly available to vendors and developers which promotes stronger and more efficient relationships.
  • Assurance of demand increase confidence to invest in people, training, factory and kit outside of conventional construction methods.

AQMSS is commercially available to MMC housing providers and contractors and will then cascade down through the supply chain, expanding the ecosystem for integrated and improved housing development planning.

Whole life innovation

Project IGNITE and the AQMSS tool will help MMC home builders be more effective in the way they use people, material and equipment, and Registered Providers will be able to optimise supply chains and buy components, materials, fixtures and systems on bulk more effectively, reducing capital, logistical and operational costs. These cost reductions across the process will help deliver social and affordable housing at a better price and help meet government targets more effectively. Places for People will also be able to better deliver on its mission to create homes that have a positive impact on customers, households, communities and the wider environment through social activities targeted around green space renovation, retirement communities and regeneration projects. 


This consortium has brought together housing developers (Places for People) with toolchain developers and systems integrators (LYNQ), architects (Northmill Associates) and experts in offsite constructed modular buildings and Modern Methods of Construction (Totally Modular, ModularWise and Project Etopia).

  • LYNQ
  • MTC
  • ModularWise
  • Northmill Associates
  • Places for People
  • Project Etopia
  • Totally Modular

Lead support

This project was funded by the Transforming Construction Challenge and supported by the Manufacturing Technology Centre (MTC).

Long Term Vision

Ultimately, the goal behind Project IGNITE is to build more affordable houses more quickly using MMC to meet government targets for new homes. To help make this happen, the AQMSS tool will create much-needed transparency through the supply chain. From procurement and design, to build and delivery, all partners will have greater transparency around the specifications and adapt or adjust the process as regulations, designs, costs or timings change. It will give certainty of specification back to housing providers so they get the buildings that were asked for, and it will help MMC home builders improve productivity, more accurately calculate costs, set reliable outputs, and collaborate better together.

Human Stories

This new digital tool will help housing associations meet their target for new homes and ensure that the needs of their residents and communities are baked into the design and delivery of the houses. It will give them security in their design, cost and longer term development plans whilst opening the supply chain, allowing more MMC suppliers the chance to unlock more market opportunities and make more effective and efficient use of their people. This kind of digitally-enabled procurement encourages more digital skills into the construction industry and aids the digitisation of the sector. The cost savings through this process can then be passed on to the end-user, making houses more affordable.

Powerful Processes

Project IGNITE has developed the AQMSS tool, evolving existing Manufacturing Execution Systems (MES) to create a digital tendering and manufacturing execution platform. It connects the entire supply chain with a golden thread of information, ensuring that new homes are successfully, and efficiently, built using MMC and delivered as designed. Registered Providers (RPs) can use the platform to optimise supply chains and bulk-buy the components, materials, fixtures and systems it needs, reducing capital and operational costs. MMC home builders will be able to monitor, react and respond to changes in regulation, local market demand, material specifications and other design changes in real time, with transparency on both sides of the supply chain.

Fascinating Facts

In 2020, the UK missed its target to build 300,000 new homes, only delivering 188,000. MMC homes are currently 40% more expensive than traditional build. Around 10% of this cost comes from aligning design with site requirements and adapting MMC homes to suit site needs. LYNQ estimates that Project IGNITE will reduce whole life costs in the offsite construction sector by at least 30% through the digitalisation, automation and visibility that the platform provides. Streamlining admin, rapid design, quick cost estimation, and a more agile procurement process is expected to reduce the time from decision to build by as much as 8 weeks. MMC home builders are expected to achieve a 30-50% increase in the effectiveness of their resources (such as their people, kit and machines) helping to reduce the cost of manufacture and ultimately the price of new homes.


Assessors (such as the Building Research Establishment BRE), Warranty (such as NHBC and BOPAS) and Mortgage providers can access data supporting digital certification at handover and on-going, real time performance data in relation the homes under warranty.

10% of MMC costs currently come from aligning the design to site requirements and adapting MMC homes to suit sites needs. Project IGNITE will allow developers take control of MMC building specifications and have the ability to review and reconfigure the design, thereby eliminating wasted costs. Both developer and MMC builders can also access design changes in real time prior to orders being placed. LYNQ estimates this technological innovation will reduce whole life costs in the offsite construction sector by at least 30% through the digitalisation, automation and visibility that the platform provides across the entire MMC supply chain from build concept through to practical completion. 

Project IGNITE attracts digital skills development into construction. It allows easier communication which is less reliant on language skills, and it removes unconscious bias in the analysis of tenders.  

Manufacturers can measure key sustainability indicators (KSI) such as material wastage, electric consumption, overall equipment effectiveness and total effective equipment performance delivered in the form of templated and configurable dashboards for the MMC industry.

Streamlining admin, rapid design, quick cost estimation, and a more agile procurement process is expected to reduce the time from decision to build by as much as 8 weeks.