Offsite Manufacture for Onsite Certainty
Light gauge steel frame (LGSF) plays a fundamental part in the offsite systems portfolio – from structural panels to complete frames, plus a variety of roofing, volumetric modular options and infill walling applications. Steve Thompson, Managing Director of EOS Facades discusses the changing construction landscape.
We are operating in exciting times for the built environment. Modernisation is more than an option now – in my view, it should be seen as an obligation. Historically construction has been compared unfavourably with the automotive and aeronautical industries and a change had to come. A revolution, not quite on an industrial scale, is taking place and currently gathering momentum. There has never been a better time to capitalise on the raft of benefits which offsite factory manufactured systems deliver.
A common problem still rests in ‘migrating’ the efficiencies of offsite to the construction site itself, to enhance that effective offsite processes keep running when the system is handled and installed. It has to be an end-to-end continuation. Rather than a process of offsite methodology to the factory gate and then being subjected to a traditional approach on site.
There appears to be a lack of understanding of what is done in the factory. This lack of understanding is at the core of improving the critical early stage engagement of manufacturers and establishing a clearer linkage between main contractors and suppliers. The role of the architect is a pivotal one here. More architects and specifiers need to engage with offsite systems manufacturers and engineering principles might at the building concept stage.
A systemic lack of understanding of offsite technology appears widespread. Site managers and teams need to understand that offsite systems are different and cannot be handled and installed in a traditional way. Logistics issues need to be addressed differently and planning activity needs to work hand in hand with manufacturing production planning.
Certainly ‘education’ is required at all levels of offsite manufacture – not just its commonly understood long-term benefits but throughout the supply chain and how each stage of the construction cycle is touched by offsite methods – architects, clients, main and sub-contractors need to understand more about the offsite industry as a whole, including the philosophy behind its use as well as the disparate range of suppliers and products.
This is one of the main reasons why EOS Facades have opened our factory doors to construction professionals and welcome visits from main contractors, architects, designers and specifiers. We understand engagement and information transfer is the solution and after all ‘knowledge is power’ – the power to collectively take our industry forward and deliver better buildings in a more productive and efficient way.
With many competing systems in the marketplace, all architects and designers are faced with the issue of making these concepts work together successfully. Interfaces and a myriad of components can cause confusion and poor building performance and once again brings into question the demand for an improved flow of offsite processes from the factory to the construction site where thorny and expensive concerns surrounding onsite installation can cancel out the plus points created within the factory.
Although there are more materials and system choices in the construction marketplace than ever before, LGSF has proved to be fundamental to many of these systems and is viewed as a trusted and adaptable building material. The versatility of steel gives architects the freedom to achieve their most ambitious visions. Steel is one of the most sustainable construction materials which can be recycled, again and again, without ever losing quality. This coupled with its strength, durability and adaptability, make it an essential component of most commercial and public sector developments.
Many of the advantages of steel construction are applicable to all building types and sectors. Building owners value the flexibility of steel buildings, and the value benefits they provide, such as the light, open, airy spaces that can be created, making it ideal for modernisation, reconfiguring, extending or adapting with minimal disruption, and without costly and sometimes harmful demolition and redevelopment.
Prefabrication of the individual steel elements takes place under controlled, highly regulated and safe factory conditions where the use of leading edge systems delivers precision-engineered components. With so much work carried out offsite, the onsite construction programme is reduced and the build programme is relatively unaffected by adverse weather conditions. Furthermore, steel components can be pre-assembled or fabricated into modules either offsite or at low level onsite, which reduces the need for working at height. Steel can be delivered to site as and when it is required, reducing the need for potentially hazardous on site storage.
Here at EOS Facades we strongly believe in partnering – we like to get involved right from the beginning, providing advice and guidance throughout the process. Partnerships are a core part of our business and our team strive to build excellent working relationships.
It is clear that there is an imperative to improve industry performance, with increasing requirements to design and construct in a more detailed manner and at a rapid pace – these processes are reliant upon effective communication. Construction professionals must work together and knowledge transfer can be mutually beneficial to all those involved along the design, manufacture and construction journey.
For more information on EOS Facades’ products and services go to: www.eos-facades.co.uk
CPD Factory Tours
EOS Facades run a series of CPD Factory Tours at their state of the art facility in County Durham and the next tour will be taking place on 21 September 2017. Hosted by the EOS Technical Team together with the Siniat specification team, the tours are completely free to attend and include lunch. The tours will include a demonstration by the estimating team of how the EOS ‘lump sum’ quote is generated, demonstration of EOS’ design software, followed by a tour of the factory demonstrating the new Howick FRAMA machine plus quality control, labelling, floor coding and traceability processes rounding off with EOS / Siniat external through wall system types and samples of the finished EOS product. Following the tour, the EOS technical team will present a CPD session covering a variety of topics relating to this technology plus examples of best practice applications and project examples.
For more information or to book a place go to: www.eos-facades.co.uk/our-services/cpd-accredited-factory-tours/Download PDF