Modern Methods for Residential Construction

Whilst the movement around Modern Methods of Construction (MMC) is growing at a seemingly outstanding rate, there are still common misconceptions and lack of knowledge within client groups that causes barriers to greater adoption.

One of the most common is a lack of understanding of how to engage. We are constantly approached by client groups asking for MMC or Modular solutions for their projects to try and take advantage of what they perceive to be the ‘trend’, without having an understanding of what they are trying to achieve and the true benefit that properly executed MMC projects can bring.

MMC isn’t about replacing a brick with a panel it is about improving efficiency, performance and outcomes. There are some key client considerations to bear in mind to enable clients to benefit from MMC.

Start with why?

Clients often come to us with the express wish to implement modern methods on their project without really understanding why, or the impact it will have upon their business. We always promote the importance of starting with understanding the ‘Why?’ establishing clear drivers, desired outcomes and seeing MMC as an enabler to meet those goals, not the answer to the question.  

MMC also needs to be viewed as an opportunity to impact positive change across their whole organisation by promoting new efficient ways of working. Not just physical products manufactured in a factory, but digital technologies and processes. That is why it is imperative to encourage clients to put a strategy in place that is holistic and considers the impacts on the wider business, ensuring that the adoption of MMC brings true transformative benefits.

Plan and record

When you’ve established your outcomes and the optimal MMC approach, the next and very important step is setting up a robust performance monitoring process. This will provide you with valuable data to prove that the use of MMC delivers better outcomes, time, cost, performance and quality benefits. This data also gives you a benchmark from which to build and improve upon.  Also, being frank there is no point going through the process of adopting MMC, if you can’t tangibly see the benefit above and beyond what has been done before.

Ultimately, if clients record data that proves MMC is better, more will follow, and uptake will increase.

Train the team to get the most from MMC

Additional training may need to be considered to allow client groups to unlock the full potential of MMC and associated digital tools. Whilst the materials used in most MMC solutions will be familiar, the processes are different and may require investment in upskilling the workforce to utilise the technology, maintain the building or manage the process.

The level of input greatly depends upon the delivery model, current capability of the team etc. So, as part of the process of integrating MMC solutions and technologies into any organisation, we would advocate undertaking a skills audit as part of the process taking into consideration the impact of any changes on the people or team which will be using it.

We must remember that large sections of the industry have been used to a pre-digital age and may have pre-determined views ‘we’ve always done it this way’ so will be sceptical to change and need very good reasons to do so. We also advocate using MMC as a means to impart positive change across a whole organisation, not just on the building site and promoting the benefits of undertaking a change management programme.

The benefits of a move to Modern Methods of Construction

The use of MMC will accelerate once people catch up to what the technology can do and how it will benefit them.

  • Digitisation can realise tangible key driver efficiencies.
  • Offsite manufacture is of higher quality.
  • It can help to achieve social values objectives.
  • Programme savings can be considerable.

As more research is completed to prove the benefits, the clearer these benefits will become.  Homes England are currently undertaking a large monitoring project over five years with eight developers to capture this information. Until then, spreading the word and supporting companies is the way forward.

Key Considerations for adopting MMC

If adopting MMC is seen as the way forward for your business, then consider these key points.

  1. Work to understand why you want to adopt it, clearly define your strategy and establish your desired outcomes.
  2. Consider the impact on your teams, not just the building site.
  3. Record and monitor information to prove it’s better and provide a foundation for further improvement.
  4. See the shift to MMC as a journey, not a revolution!

This article is based on an interview with Jamie Parr, Founder and Consultant at BD Solutions