Love or Hate Modular?

Modular has a bad name for some in the UK and most of us know the reasons why. Bad news spreads faster than good news for starters but mostly it’s down to a sheer lack of understanding and delivery experience. 'But we have always done it this way' comes to mind.

Aside of some mass confusion the actual word ‘Modular’ is over used incorrectly when the term Modern Methods of Construction (MMC) is more definitive, appropriate. Modular is one of many MMC techniques as are SIPS/Elements/LGS etc.

It's about collaboration

We embrace homegrown UK manufacturers and also combined with more powerful overseas solutions. Overseas OSM's are often more experienced, decades ahead in some instances, certainly richer, but are no doubt heavily reliant upon local installation teams. Around 80% of overseas OSM's we have met are not interested in the UK which is good news for UK firms, but for good reason they avoid what is a complicated country/market, they make less profit margin compared to Scandinavia where roughly 45% of new build embrace MMC. A large portion of Scandinavian MMC comes from the Baltic States and other countries. Transport can easily equal or even kill a deal if the client is purely looking to save money but they need to take in to consideration TIME saved and the superior QUALITY and EXPERIENCE

Key issues for consideration

* a bad personal experience, or hearsay of Modular or any other MMC product

* poor ‘due diligence’ (connected mostly directly to the above) - then the person becomes a ‘doubter’ and spreads the word accordingly closing any opportunity to consider the merits of embracing MMC. Construction is absolutely riddled with risk, why would anyone risk their job for an unknown inexperienced manufacturer? Choose the right partner is the answer! One that has delivered countless projects locally and is well funded for many years to come

* the Offsite Manufacturer (OSM) can produce great quality designed product in the factory but doesn’t have the necessary ‘delivery’ experience in the locality without the support of ‘local’ partners including professional installers - health & safety, laws, regulations etc

* poorly funded OSM’s are rife in the UK (and other countries of course) - always ensure their balance sheet is acceptable and no court claims against them which will put your own project in jeopardy amongst many other financial checks

* wrong technology for the project - a classic repeated mistake by many insistent on using MMC but no idea why and what specific product to embrace - it’s trendy to say 'let’s use Modular' but only use it if it suits the project/site/stakeholders. Even factories have been set up with the wrong technology in the UK and have struggled ever since wasting up to tens of millions

* wrong architect who doesn’t have necessary experience yet to carry out the task and will always revert back to traditional build at any given moment. Ask first how many MMC projects they have delivered. how many factories they have visited, which technology? What projects have been delivered in your locality - to make it easier ask your OSM which architects they recommend! Same goes for contractors delivering the programme - critical

* your own pipeline is just as important with a genuine commitment to your OSM partner located as close as possible to the site including, 'pop up' facilities if possible but if not come up with another solution which combines local expertise - a Hybrid solution combining 'homegrown' with overseas support

* general mis-conceptions including that Modular is cheaper cost - it’s certainly not like for like, but it’s faster, IF done properly, which will appeal to your investors - and it’s certainly safer and should be outstanding quality, so therefore better. Radical claims by a small handful of OSM's stating on websites MMC being 40-50% faster is practically not possible, we shall agree to significant benefits with prelims, resulting in around 25%-30% time saving which is more than enough to reap the benefits in addition to significant safety and quality for workers and end users.

* employ the right team, do not attempt to become an expert over night, most projects will fail without necessary manufacturing expertise in your supply chain. Too many times we have met and worked with clients who turn down our project management solution (wanting just a simple introduction to a suitable OSM) leaving them stranded and the project takes months longer to complete. Insist on the contractor taking responsibility of the whole project if necessary.

* cost consistency is amongst other benefits to adopting MMC, but it has to be with the right OSM, with such a rollercoaster in cost increases with materials of late 'cost certainty' is another huge benefit

The list goes on! And on and by no means above is inclusive.

Avoid those critical errors

We have met 50 OSM’s worldwide to hone our own skill set and expand our supply chain to the benefit of our clients. We are learning more everyday the reality of delivering successful MMC led projects. It's all about open minds, genuine collaboration working with highly experienced teams, significant 'due diligence' and being realistic from day one. Modular is not suited to every project, it is certainly not the Silver Bullet but MMC is.

Modernise or Die as our friend Mark Farmer at Cast Consultancy reported in his government report 6 years ago.

We need to build 'homes' not units

Email for more information including our ACE MMC Solution Paper.