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Kier predicts contractors will employ ‘offsite managers’

30 Aug 2019

Kier predicts contractors will employ ‘offsite managers’

Kier expects major construction companies to employ specialists to manage offsite manufacturing, as use of factory-assembled components rises on projects.

The contractor made the prediction in a report it has published on the potential impact of offsite growth on the industry.

“In the same vein that the industry has observed the creation of new roles in the digital environment, such as BIM managers, we anticipate the same for offsite manufacturing,” said Kier director Jamie Hillier, who authored the study.

He added: “While the spotlight has typically shone towards the CITB to provide direction on skills, we would encourage the professional bodies – CIOB, ICE, RICS, RIBA – to collaborate to provide structure around role definition, competency and accreditation, in a format aligned to the government’s Construction Sector Deal.

“We would encourage that any approach whole-heartedly embraces our clients and their professional teams, recognising the pivotal role in setting leadership, direction and management of offsite manufacturing adoption.”

Hillier urged “a shift in focus towards measured outcome; procuring for value rather than lowest cost” and said this will “necessitate a re-education of key stakeholders”.

“We therefore need to make it easy for individuals and organisations to assess their competency, potential skill gaps and the need for training; making it understandable, easily.”

The report, The Choice Factory, examines offsite manufacturing “through the lens of behavioural science”. It is named after behavioural scientist Richard Shotton’s book The Choice Factory, which examines how behavioural biases influence the products people buy.

Kier’s study says: “The economical and technological benefits of offsite manufacturing have already been widely publicised. What appears more interesting however, is why a rationally beneficial solution, has for too long been irrationally marginalised.

“In responding to the House of Lords Select Committee inquiry on offsite manufacturing in 2018, we advocated review of psychological, behavioural and cultural factors, to achieve sustainable change.”

Kier identified five key barriers to offsite uptake:

  • Lack of industry self-awareness
  • Skills and knowledge gaps
  • Supply chain maturity and capacity
  • Incomplete feedback loop
  • Pipeline of work

It said that although offsite has been advocated before, a key difference currently comes from digital technologies, new materials technology, and a shift in build strategy towards operational priorities.

Kier sees its role as a “project integrator”, bringing together a range of offsite components, including volumetric, steel framing systems, engineered timber, precast concrete and prefabricated building services, to deliver bespoke solutions for clients.


The Choice Factory report comes in three parts, the first two of which have been published, with the third due to come out shortly.

Kier’s offsite work has included wide use of precast concrete, on the biomedical research laboratory Project Capella at the University of Cambridge, the redevelopment of Broadmoor Hospital, and its current Wellingborough prison project.

Article & image source: Construction Manager Magazine

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