£104m to improve housing manufacturing

Posted on 27 Feb 2015 by The Manufacturer

The Government is giving £104m to over twenty companies to accelerate the use of pre-assembly manufacturing systems in house building.

The cash will include £22m to Laing O’Rourke who will lead with 22 other consortium partners to produce homes off-site.

This will involve building a dedicated housing modular assembly factory next to Laing O’Rourke’s Explore Industrial Park factory in Steetley, Nottinghamshire which will be capable of delivering 10,000 new homes a year.

Announcing the package of measures, business secretary Vince Cable said of the project: “To meet urgent demand for new affordable homes, the construction industry must embrace new technologies and techniques – and our support will help them do this more quickly.

“This reflects the long-term commitment of our industrial strategy to modernising British manufacturing. Working in partnership with industry, targeted investment from Government is helping firms exploit new technologies, raise skills levels and improve productivity.”

The Laing O’Rourke project is funded by the Government’s Advanced Manufacturing Supply Chain Initiative (AMSCI). AMSCI funding provides research and development support, skills training and investment capital, and encourages major new suppliers to reshore in the UK.

More than 250 people will be employed at the housing assembly plant, with over a 1,000 jobs created within the consortium firms and further along supply chain.

The plan will encourage larger companies to develop skills further down the supply chain by redirecting applicants for jobs or apprenticeships they can’t offer themselves to their suppliers.

It will also tackle late payment and aim to end unfair practices, such as charging companies to stay on supplier lists.

A chief aim of the project is to reduce the housing industry’s reliance on foreign imports and build a stronger UK supply chain that can deliver manufactured exports.

Laing O’Rourke believes it will be able to deliver quality homes a third cheaper in half the time, with a 50% saving in emissions while also closing the import export gap.

Chairman Ray O’Rourke said: “We are levelling up the playing field with countries like China and India because we are able to use robotics to help us in the assembly which improves the quality of the build.

“There’s wonderful technology out there which has been in use in the automotive and aviation industry’s for 30 years and we have to understand how to grasp that and deploy it in our industry.”

The project will also deliver training in the latest BIM digital engineering and installation skills.