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How concrete manufacturers can help address skills shortages

For some time industry commentators have forecasted an growing skills shortage within the UK construction industry due to an ageing workforce and the industry’s difficulty in attracting and retaining skilled workers.

Main contractors and developers are increasingly raising the issue as a constraint on their ability to maximise growth opportunities.

With green shoots firmly emerging, now is the time to address this shortage. Contractors and developers can turn to manufacturers to help them meet industry demand.

The potential of offsite construction

One solution to help cope with the shortfall in skilled workers is the introduction of offsite manufacturing processes, also known as design for manufacturing and assembly.

DfMA is a concurrent design and engineering team approach that involves engineers, manufacturers and suppliers early in the design cycle.

By using this approach, components are manufactured and preassembled in a controlled environment, prior to delivery to site for installation.

“The best results occur when DfMA is used at the conceptual stage, optimising the design to achieve programme efficiencies, reducing site labour and minimising waste”

Through DfMA, the opportunity exists to construct sustainable buildings using processes that are quicker and safer.

Using automated manufacturing systems in a controlled environment allows the production of consistently high-quality components in a manner that is unaffected by the adverse weather or other challenges faced by traditional construction sites.

The best results occur when DfMA is used at the conceptual stage, optimising the design to achieve programme efficiencies, reducing site labour and minimising waste.

Precast benefits

Specifying precast concrete solutions fully embraces the DfMA approach. Contractors and developers alike can benefit from working with products manufactured in a safe, factory-controlled environment, as well as reduced site durations and reduced numbers of site operatives.

Coupling this with a high-quality finish, low maintenance and ‘just-in-time’ deliveries provides the industry with a viable alternative to a reliance on skilled site-based trades.

The development of production techniques allowing items such as M&E, windows and doors to be cast into precast units further reduces the need for tradesmen on site and results in an error-proofed product.

Precast concrete units are increasingly being specified as being left in their exposed, as cast state. Leading manufacturers can produce components that are able to be used where an architectural decorative finish is required.

Even on the most complex of projects, a good precast concrete manufacturer can provide benefits over and above the simple supplying of products.

Installation can be greatly helped by having concrete components transported to site clearly marked and in assembly order, co-ordinated from the manufacturing facilities.

By providing a complete, high-quality and ready-to-install product, precast concrete manufacturers can play a valuable part in overcoming any onsite skills shortages the UK construction industry may face.

Mike Nelson is sales and commercial manager at Bison Manufacturing

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