Offsite construction enhances safety

12 December 2019

OFFSITE CONSTRUCTION leads to a range of benefits to industry and society, according to a new ECA survey of businesses in the electrotechnical and engineering services industry.

Broadly, these benefits include improved health and safety outcomes, increased productivity, a smaller carbon footprint and reduced operational costs.

Almost two thirds (61 per cent) of survey respondents reported increased productivity, and nearly one in two (47 per cent) reported enhanced employee safety. More than half saw improved quality of work (57 per cent), reduced operational costs (59 per cent) and less project downtime (55 per cent).  

Many respondents (43 per cent) also experienced a reduction in their carbon footprint – an increasingly important performance indicator for UK businesses following the Government’s commitment to ‘net zero’ carbon emissions by 2050.

ECA CEO Steve Bratt commented, “Offsite construction has the potential to become a key mechanism for delivering projects of all sizes in the present and future. Early-adopters in the industry who have embraced this way of working are already reaping the rewards, so it will be important that the rest of the sector considers its response, or they could face being left behind.”

However, the biggest barriers to carrying out offsite manufacturing were identified as a lack of suitably skilled staff, a high level of ongoing investment, and installation onsite. Additionally, the number of clients specifying offsite was lower than expected and maintaining a stable flow of work for offsite facilities was therefore challenging its viability.

Despite these barriers, the vast majority (81 per cent) of businesses agreed that offsite manufacturing will offer them new commercial opportunities in the future.

Significantly, 42% of larger businesses (those with turnover of £5m plus) said that they would be using offsite construction within five years, in part due to requirements from their buyers.

About the survey

Offsite construction refers to the planning, design, fabrication and assembly of building elements at a location other than their final installed location to support the rapid and efficient construction of a project. It is sometimes also referred to as ‘offsite manufacturing’.

This ECA survey was held in partnership with CIBSE and SELECT, to establish the extent to which the electrotechnical and engineering services sector is engaged with offsite manufacturing and the future opportunities which may exist in the industry.

Respondents to the survey work across the multi-billion pound electrotechnical and engineering services industry. The survey received 135 responses and was held earlier in 2019.