We seem to be turning over several new pages in certain exciting aspects, with Brexit and the very encouraging news about potential vaccines for our worldwide pandemic. The UK is the first country to roll out a nationwide vaccination programme, as at Christmas around 800,000 vulnerable people already as our PM Boris proudly confirmed – which is of course commendable. Brexit gives us the tremendous opportunity to invest in our manufacturing, to invest in our agriculture and to invest in our infrastructure, in order to help make us more self-sufficient and we simply must of course invest in our construction industry. Historically the UK are renowned internationally for engineering expertise (goings back 100’s of years of course) and more recently such triumphs as the tunnelling of Crossrail under invaluable heritage sites as well as Channel Tunnel, HS2, and the new super-sewer being built under the River Thames – a 25km tunnel under London’s river that will prevent millions of tonnes of pollution that currently pollute the river every year.
This necessary expansion of London’s sewer network is due for completion in 2025, and is happening across 24 construction sites in London. These span from Acton in West London to Beckton in the East, and many are located on the river edge in the centre of the city.
The same intense focus is still needed to address solving our dreaded ongoing housing crisis, but the simple fact is the investment has come far too late and too little. The UK needs to urgently adopt a collaborative style of working towards achieving targets of building over 300,000 homes per year, every year, for the next decade – and we are falling well behind these targets already, living in somewhat a bubble of denial.
Gleaning knowledge from overseas experts, more capable Off-Site Manufacturers can lead to our own robust apprenticeships allowing us to compete on a level playing field
Apprenticeships are something we have failed to do successfully, utilising modern methods to help speed up and improve the production process all round. Whilst there are many small to medium sized factories in the UK, most are unproven – having been awarded substantial contracts many are going out of business. So why is that? I believe that it goes back to the lack of training and investment and nothing to do with our very able and hardworking workforce, including youngsters willing to work hard. I have worked in several countries and do not accept rumours the UK is work-shy given that we have ‘some’ of the most efficient automobile manufacturing factories in the world – FACT.
Collaboration with Baltic States – which have far stronger established proven ‘mega-plants’ -and over the last 30 years have built thousands of the highest quality homes for Scandinavia. For example one factory in Estonia has a massive 23,000 square metres of state-of-the-art world class technology manufacturing plant. It seems that our lack of commitment from the top down has cost us dearly. Despite all of the talk and hot air, we have lost our way in housing. Key players in our great nation have ignored modern methods of construction.
- Lack of investment in education, training and manufacturing – including incentives to encourage apprenticeships by government.
- Delays in changing outdates planning laws.
- Lack of foresight by investors, considering the huge BTR market – millions of people simply cannot afford to buy and the ROI is very attractive in the UK
- Lenders in the sector, such as some architects are not keeping up to date with technology in the market place, especially outside the UK. Tunnel vision focused purely on the UK’s OSM’s has limited their exposure to the Big Guns and huge gains possible in productivity.
- Nepotism, existing relationships and sheer resistance to change which is a natural human trait
- The big question is how we revolutionise the role of contractors. OSM disrupts the traditional contracting business model by shifting the value of a project to a factory. Now, a contractor charges a premium for coordinating the site-based processes but, under OSM, where “pre-manufactured value”, or PMV, starts dominating the overall project cost, what is left for the contractor to do, beyond enabling works and assembly?
Put the UK first, invest in our workforce, learn from others and place the UK in a Premier Division
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