NWCH Team Attend Seminar with ‘Modernise or Die’ author Mark Farmer

Members of the NWCH team attended a School of the Built Environment Research Seminar at Salford University. The seminar featured guest speaker Mark Farmer, author of The Farmer Review of the UK Construction Labour Model 2016: Modernise or Die, who gave an overview of his report and his outlook on the future of construction in the UK.

Amongst other recommendations, to overcome challenges within the industry such as skills shortages, and to harness the opportunities that Digital Technology holds, The Farmer report highlights the need to move towards a greater use of off site manufacturing. This is defined as “a ‘design for manufacture & assembly’ approach at all levels ranging from component level standardisation and lean processes through to completely pre-finished volumetric solutions”. Off site manufacturing can conjure thoughts of the humble post war prefab, but poor quality is a misconception, due to the low tolerances achievable within modern manufacturing techniques.

“If you buy a new car, you expect it to have been built in a factory to exacting standards, to be delivered on time, to an agreed price and to a predetermined quality. This needs to happen more in construction, so that the investors, developers or building owners hiring construction firms increasingly dictate the use of modern methods of delivery and invest appropriately in the skills agenda to grow this part of the industry. There are more similarities between manufacturing and construction than many people are led to believe.”
Mark Farmer – The Farmer Review of the UK Construction Labour Model 2016: Modernise or Die

Locally, Galliford Try have recently successfully completed the delivery of three Salford primary school expansion projects. Though not all projects are suited to off site manufacturing, this method of delivery was perfect to enable the project to be delivered within 16 weeks as required.


Procuring the project via the NWCH, meant that the client was able to appoint a contractor within six weeks, which complimented the speed of this process. As the build type was pre-prescribed by the client, during the stage one process Galliford Try went to the market to procure a modular supply chain partner. MTX were chosen as they demonstrated the ability to deliver in line with the challenging programme and cost parameters, they reduced key risks by sourcing the modules via two different manufacturers.


A pre-construction service agreement between Galliford Try and MTX committed to a maximum spend on steel and other manufactured elements, which allowed MTX to secure the steel frame and start manufacture in a timely manner. In comparison to a traditional build, where payments would be made against milestones, Galliford Try provided upfront payments for design and monthly payments to MTX based on performance. Early design sign-off was critical to ensuring the project met manufacture deadlines. This involved fast paced design engagement in line with design freezes. Compared to traditional design and procurement the modular approach is an enhanced design process, to enable commencement of frame and foundation works whilst manufacture is underway.


Read a case study on Salford Primary Schools Expansion here. Please contact the NWCH team for more examples of past projects implementing off site manufacturing.

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