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Industry must adopt modern methods of construction

22nd June 2023

Construction needs to modernise to meet Net Zero ambitions, a new report from Oxford Economics says.

The Global Construction Futures report in partnership with Aon argues that construction productivity in most markets globally lags other productive sectors and is in urgent need of improvement.

Modern methods of construction (MMC) focus on offsite construction which speed up building and reduce emissions and upheaval. 

“Rising construction costs are partly due to higher material prices and tight labour markets, but they also highlight the sector’s inefficiency and failure to modernise,” the report says.

Traditionally, construction has involved transporting many thousands of individual components to site to be assembled. Much of this work could be carried out in a factory environment instead, improving quality, safety, collaboration, and productivity while reducing waste. 

Writing in the report, Tom Smith, global director, property and buildings at WSP, said: “MMC encompasses a wide range of new materials, methodologies, and technologies. These range from fully furnished modules that can simply be connected on site, to elements that are assembled as a kit of parts, to on-site 3D printing or a digital twin that contains detailed information about every single component of a built asset. 

“Many of these ideas have been around for a while—even decades—but with advances in digital technology we are now able to realise their full potential.”

The UK, Singapore, Hong Kong and Australia are leaders in the use of Modern Methods of Construction – but governments urgently need to provide incentives to support investment to help scale a manufacturing-led approach.

Graham Robinson, global infrastructure and construction lead at Oxford Economics, said: “A lot needs to change for the successful scaling of MMC to achieve the productivity gains that a manufacturing-led approach can bring. Governments are large buyers of construction and can incentivise investment in a manufacturing-led approach.”

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