Is your Construction Company Ready for OSM?

Is your Construction Company Ready for OSM?

19th February 2019

Last week we reported on the latest trend in the construction industry – off site manufacture (OSM, also known as pre-fabrication) which is on the increase.  A recent survey of some of the UK’s top construction companies disclosed that more than half intend to double the amount of OSM in their projects in the coming five years. 

If you’re a small to medium construction company here in the UK, here’s what you need to know if you intend to jump onto the bandwagon and start using OSM in some of your projects.

The key factor when it comes to the effective use of OSM is to be aware of what these methods are, when they can be used, and at what stage in the project process they need to be considered.  When it comes to your employees, there are several issues to consider before making the decision to go ahead with offsite construction:

  • The skills, expertise and knowledge of offsite construction will be required at all levels in your workforce, from site labour to project managers and designers.
  • Both the offsite and onsite employees will need to be adequately trained with the requisite skills for the use of offsite construction.
  • The project team will need design skills for manufacture and assembly, supply team management and project integration.
  • The onsite managers and installation workers will need to possess logistical and materials handling skills, rather than the traditional skill sets needed for traditional construction methods.
  • The offsite team will require skills in production engineering and process efficiency.
  • The onsite mechanical and electrical (M&E) workforce will need post-qualification training in new products, methods and time management in order to ensure that they are multi-skilled workers who can work on both OSM and traditional types of projects.
  • A small, relatively unskilled team of workers may still e necessary to focus on the delivery of materials at the point of use.
  • The whole workforce should be properly briefed, informed, and motivated with clear targets, along with monitoring and control.
  • In addition to ensuring that the workforce is trained, the workplace should be appropriate for the tasks required addressing the issues of material delivery and storage, mechanical handling equipment, and work area control.

When it comes to offsite construction, preconstruction planning and preparation is a key issue.  Some sections of the workforce will need specialist training in innovative methods for offsite construction methods to be used successfully.  OSM requires the installation workforce to be flexible and possess the technical skills necessary to cope with the changes in the construction process and the level of complexity in the systems used.

The onsite skills necessary for managers and installation workers differs radically from those needed on a traditional construction site.  They will need to be trained to assemble ready-made components, use new types of materials and systems and ensure that all systems work as they should.  This means that they will need training in:

  • Logistics
  • Material handling
  • Material and equipment planning
  • Safe working with heavy components
  • Knowledge of new products and methods