– To what extent can advanced technology impact on Laing O’Rourke construction?
The construction industry has been developing gradually throughout the past years due to the rapid increase in demand from a growing population thus meeting this demands will require much more supply that advanced technology might provide. For example, in the UK the number of new houses that started construction was increased by 4% in 2016 (Osborne, 2016). Such demands encouraged the companies in the industry to start seeking to develop new techniques and technologies that might provide better quality houses in a shorter time and less cost. Therefore, new concepts of construction techniques appeared in recent years such as Modern Methods of Construction. Thus, Laing O’Rourke has been investing in new advanced technology which the company believes the impact of smart technology on its activities is fundamental to its growth (Laing O’Rourke, 2015). This paper will look and define the different type of smart technology in the construction industry as well as viewing Laing O’Rourke’s vision in adopting such technologies and techniques to lead the change in the whole industry.
Modern Methods of Construction (MMC) is a phrase that encompasses a broad range of technologies that include offsite construction, or offsite manufacture (Brennan and Vokes, 2013). MMC is define as the progress to produce good quality homes in less time. The main purpose of MMC is to develop business efficiency, quality of products, customer satisfaction, environmental performance and predictability of the timescales (National Audit Office). Furthermore, there are different types of MMC that can reduce the building units which positively affect construction companies such as Volumetric Construction which involves the production of three-dimensional units in factories, these units will transport to the site where they are stacked onto prepared foundations to form the dwellings. However, Volumetric Construction mostly used in student accommodations, hotels, health care and fast food sectors where repetition of the building form is common either at the building level or at the room level. Nonetheless, recently this method of construction is being used for housing as well as such method can be used on existing buildings, to create new facilities (Ross, 2005). Another method is Panellised, the panel units are usually produced off-site in manufactories under a quality controlled process and assembled on-site to produce a three-dimensional structure. The panels mostly consist of floor, wall and roof units, constructors referred to as cassettes (Incoll, no date). Having discussed two of MMC leads to viewing hybrid construction which is the combination of precast concrete and in-situ concrete. The two materials are used according to their strengths and weaknesses to provide competitive, build-able simple with high-quality structures that offer consistent performance. Precast concrete and in-situ concrete is easy to use on existing buildings as well as extending the design horizons for architects, contractors, and engineers. However, both elements can be used independently as well as in combination (Mishra, 2014).
Modern methods of construction involve a wider range of materials and techniques, but the main aim for such methods is to minimise the amount of time that required to construct a building on the site as well as reducing the cost. Companies in the construction industry should consider the use of MMC for several reasons, MMC can help companies to achieve faster-building programs as well as developing buildings quality, reducing the skills shortage and improving health and safety. Furthermore, companies will positively benefit from the use of MMC by decreasing cost and developing site efficiency.
Source (Malinkin, 2016).
However, the study shows that the main motivation of using MMC is to achieve a quicker building program which has been proven as the main benefit in practice (Malinkin, 2016).
Laing O’Rourke is one of the leading companies in the construction industry, the company is aiming to become the world leader in off-site construction techniques which include modern methods of construction. Laing O’Rourke believes in its ability to change the face of residential construction in United Kingdom by expanding its Design for Manufacture and Assembly (DFMA) philosophy to deliver a totally completed houses units, as the group has been already working on new advanced manufacturing facility that claim, once complete, it will have the capacity to produce up to10,000 factory-built houses per year. On the other hand, Laing O’Rourke is investing in a new advanced manufacturing facility which might produce in the future contemporary houses to unprecedented standards of quality, this facility will offer a range of units that created in a highly controlled and automated factory environment (Laing O’Rourke, 2017). Moreover, the company believes by investing in new technologies construction will be more attractive to new employees and it will tackle the shortage of skills as well as reduce the work on-site as more work will be done in a safe controlled manufacturing environment. Additionally, using modern methods of construction and off-site work will increase certainty, stability of cost and surety of supply. Therefore, at every point of the process, Laing O’Rourke focus is to develop long-term partnerships that might achieve material benefits on all sides (Laing O’Rourke, 2017). such move might help the company to deliver faster, more efficiently and higher standards products to meet their client’s expectations.
Laing O’Rourke is a member of the construction industry in Apprenticeship Trailblazer which is a group of employers that working together to design new apprenticeship standards for occupations within their sectors (Scottish Qualifications Authority, 2017). Alison Lamplough, the head of operational training at Laing O’Rourke and chair of the steering group working on construction apprenticeship for Trailblazer initiative, said ” Laing O’Rourke’s Construction Assembly Technicians will be multi-skilled, delivering the modern methods of construction such as Design for Manufacture and Assembly (DfMA) and digital engineering, leveraging new technologies” (Laing O’Rourke, 2014).
The British contractor, Laing O’Rourke announced last year that the company will sell its very successful Australian subsidiary as the company willing to direct its focus more on the UK and the European market, the potential sales comes at a time when the UK government is considering how to finance $ 18 billion pipeline project that might keep construction companies busy over the next decade (Rostron, 2016).
Laing O’Rourke is planning to continue investing in modern methods of construction or in another word off-site buildings as the company sees a bright future for such methods in the EU and UK construction (Quirke, 2015). According to Ray O’Rourke, the chief executive “Another key conclusion of the review was that the European business and the UK, in particularly, was very well placed for strong growth potential, which will be further fuelled by the government’s renewed focus on infrastructure and new housing” (Schultes, 2016). However, whether Laing O’rourk should adopt such technology in their future vision in order to continue succeeding and growth is long going debate that will be addressed in depth at the final project.
Ross, K. (2005) Modern methods of house construction. Watford: BRE Construction Division.
Brennan, J. and Vokes, C. (2013) Technology and Skills in the Construction Industry. Available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/305024/Technology_and_skills_in_the_construction_industry_evidence_report_74.pdf (Accessed: 5 January 2017).
National Audit Office (2005) Using modern methods of construction to build homes more quickly and efficiently. Available at: https://www.nao.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2005/11/mmc.pdf ( Accessed: 5 January 2017).
Mishra, G. (2014) HYBRID CONSTRUCTION TECHNIQUE AND STRUCTURAL ACTIONS. Available at: http://theconstructor.org/concrete/hybrid-construction-technique-and-structural-actions/6305/ ( Accessed: 5 January 2017).
Malinkin, A. (2016) Modern methods of construction views from the industry. Available at: https://www.nhbcfoundation.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/NF70-Modern-methods-of-construction.pdf ( Accessed 5 January 2017).
Scottish Qualifications Authority (2017) Apprenticeship Trailblazers. Available at: http://www.sqa.org.uk/sqa/74185.html (Accessed: 5 January 2017).
Laing O’Rourke (2014) Laing O’Rourke to introduce its first apprenticeship for construction assembly technicians. Available at : http://www.laingorourke.com/media/news-releases/2014/laing-orourke-to-introduce-its-first-apprenticeship-for-construction-assembly-technicians.aspx (Accessed: 5 January 2017).
Quirke, J. (2015) Laing O’Rourke exits Australia to focus on the UK and Europe. Available at: http://www.globalconstructionreview.com/news/laing-or7ourke-ex7its-aus7tralia-fo7cus-u7k-an7d/ (Accessed: 5 January 2017).
Schultes, R. (2016) Sale prompted by shift in infrastructure spending away from oil, gas and mining projects. Available at: https://www.ft.com/content/c3f04712-b82a-11e5-b151-8e15c9a029fb (Accessed: 5 January 2017).
Laing O’Rourke (2017) DfMA in housing. Available at: http://www.laingorourke.com/media/eej-2016/dfma-in-housing.aspx (Accessed: 5 January 2017).
Laing O’Rourke (2017) A closer look at an engineering enterprise. Available at: http://www.laingorourke.com/media/eej-2016/a-closer-look-at-an-engineering-enterprise.aspx (Accessed: 5 January 2017).
Osborne, H. (2016) UK housing market: what to expect in 2017. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/money/2016/dec/26/housing-market-property-outlook-uk-2017 (Accessed: 5 January 2017).
Laing O’Rourke (2015) Laing O’Rourke-led consortium awarded £22.1m grant under the advanced manufacturing supply chain initiative. Available at: http://www.laingorourke.com/media/news-releases/2015/laing-o-rourke-led-consortium-awarded.aspx (Accessed: 5 January 2017).
Rostron, S. (2016) Laing O’Rourke group announces potential divestment of Australian business. Available at: http://blog.plantminer.com.au/laing-orourke-group-announces-potential-divestment-of-australian-business (Accessed: 5 January 2017).
Incoll, P. (no date) panelisd forms of building construction for antarctic regions. Available at: http://www.isope.org/publications/proceedings/ISOPE/ISOPE%201992/Abstract%20Pages/I92v2p564.pdf ( Accessed: 5 January 2017).
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