The consortium on this project proved the value of a culture of sharing best practice. By working together, whg and partners gained knowledge, pooled expertise, built networks and created a new supply chain knowledge-based tool to drive efficiencies and improve outcomes. This team offered a diverse mix of knowledge from universities, to local authorities, to steel manufacturers and energy efficiency experts. whg and Hadley Group are now taking these learnings into the West Midlands Combined Authority AMC task force.
Homes built using modular designs and pre-assembled frameworks are quicker to assemble and install, and rely on less materials and labour, which both have the potential to reduce cost. The new design also supports cost savings over the lifetime of the home. whg and Hadley Group believes that the design will require less repair & maintenance over the lifespan of the house, and currently estimate a possible 33% reduction in life-cycle costs. This is being tracked as the homes become occupied.
Birmingham City University's PhD student, Kudirat Ayinla is now applying her knowledge of lean concepts gained from this project to identify and evaluate the process wastes of two types of house production methods (i) the method used to build the prototype, offsite construction without automation and (ii) semi-automated method. The team at BCU together with Kudirat are looking to generalise the process of house production.
The collaborative originally predicted a 30% reduction of household energy consumption and carbon emissions reduction of 50%. Energy Systems Catapult have now created a Home Energy Dynamic model which proves that household energy consumption is reduced by 86% when using the full toolkit developed by the team.
Hadley Group is investing £3 million in expanding their facilities based on the findings and outcomes of this project.
According to the DfMA house assembly report prepared by QM systems, it takes about 8 minutes to assemble 1 panel frame, a sub-assembly unit of the DfMA house. The time is compared with the manual production time for the prototype DfMA house. The corresponding time required to produce 1 panel frame by a gang of 2 labours and a supervisor is 45 minutes. Thus, the production line speeds up the production of the panel sub-assembly for DfMA house by more than 5 times.
With demand for social housing high (there are 8,000 people waiting for social housing in Walsall), DfMA should support more houses being built in less time and for less cost. This is an important metric that will continue to be tracked and measured.
With a strong focus on social housing solutions in the Midlands, this project is already acting as a hub or role model for other areas in the region. To this end, Homes England has invited whg and Hadley Group to sit on the expert panel of the West Midlands Combined Authority AMC task force. The introduction of new platform design and technology is also likely to drive employment and skills opportunities in the area.
Design for Manufacture and Assembly (DfMA) supports a safer working environment compared to traditional production onsite, because much of the work is undertaken in a controlled factory environment, rather than varying construction sites. DfMA also allows for more testing in the factory which cannot always be done onsite.
With so much of the manufacture and assembly being done on a factory production line, this new modular building technique has delivered a 50% reduction to the design and construction time. The use of the Knowledge-Based Engineering Tool (KBE) also showed a reduction in the time spent planning the project.
This project has not only driven UK investment in UK homes, but has created the opportunity to expand into Middle East markets through the Hadley Group connections, positioning the UK as a pioneer in Design for Manufacture and Assembly (DfMA) when applied to social housing.
This project has whole-life value at its heart. It set out to test how modern methods of construction in social housing could create more sustainable, affordable homes, that in turn offers a better quality of life for the householder. The pilot sites have given whg and the collaborative evidence for more sustainable, safer and productive builds, and has created best practice that the Midlands, that the wider UK industry can learn from.