Last year, Taylor Woodrow Construction started work on a project to build 19 affordable homes for the Higher Broughton Partnership at Vincent Street in Salford.
Taylor Woodrow decided that this £1.7 million development would use a modern method of construction (MMC) and set about finding a system which would deliver speed of erection, consistent high standards of construction and low cost.
The solution was found with a local business start-up which was developing a highly-mechanised manufactured building system that ticked all of Taywood’s boxes.
Panaloc was founded by Eric Dean, whose joinery business was already using CNC machinery for fitting doors. “I wondered if it could be extended to the whole building and that’s how Panaloc came about,” says Mr Dean.
Panaloc has been described as the whole-house equivalent of flat-packed furniture. Volumetric elements are made from precision-fitted panels made from laminated oriented strand boards bonded to produce stiff panels up to 100 mm thick.
These panels are machined by robots controlled by the CNC software. Such is the precision and flexibility of the system that cavities for electricity sockets, and cable channels (as well as door and window openings) can be programmed into the machining process at design stage.
The panels are assembled into ‘pods’ and finished internally and externally at the Panaloc factory. It is then simply a matter of delivering them to site for assembly. “We can build one hotel room or one house every two hours,” says Mr Dean.
Vincent Street was very much a test run for the system, but it still came in no more expensive than a conventional build. Many lessons were learned in the process – for example, Panaloc is now coating its panels with heavy paper to improve surface finish to the interior surfaces and it is working on better weather proofing for protection during assembly on site.