Scaling Up Healthcare Construction Without Adding Complexity

Historically, a major scaling-up of construction activity usually came with a corresponding increase in complexity and uncertainty. Delays and cost overruns have a habit of cascading and multiplying on major projects. Where there are a series of smaller projects each is, in effect, a one-off. The traditional construction process makes it hard to achieve economies of scale between projects.

Healthcare construction is entering an era where activity needs to be increased rapidly to deliver new projects – from hospital rebuilds to GP surgery extensions. The risks of multiplied complexities and spiralling costs are very real.

Thinking Like Manufacturers

In the 2020s, scaling-up output should be something that the construction industry takes in its stride, as they do in other sectors such as manufacturing. And increasingly, it’s to the manufacturing sector that we look for repeatable processes that can be automated to deliver consistent quality and cost savings as output increases.

Some might argue that construction isn’t quite like manufacturing. The end product is always different and needs to be adapted to suit different uses and different spaces. Even so, significantly greater pre-manufactured content and automation is entirely possible.

Flexibility With Control

Panelised offsite systems offer designers as much flexibility as they need alongside the benefits of standardised processes. The main components of building structures are large format panels that are easily mass-produced. The bespoke elements are still produced in a digitally-controlled and highly automated process.

The repeatable process allows the design of some features to be standardised across different projects. Unlike with traditional methods, the timing and economic benefits of standardisation will be fully realised in practice.

Experience with Offsite

With panelised offsite, there are fewer deliveries, fewer people onsite and less reliance on skilled labour.  A minimum number of operations are carried out away from the carefully controlled manufacturing environment. Put simply, there’s less that can go wrong.

Greater use of MMC in healthcare projects is inevitable. And although techniques such as panelised offsite are unfamiliar to some, there are companies like Osborne that have many years of experience and a successful track record of delivering projects with high levels of pre-manufactured content.