FLYING FACTORIES: A PROJECT MANAGER'S GUIDE TO UNBOXING RISK

Schedule delays are nothing new in the construction sector, but new methods of construction can help to avoid them. Among the latest ideas being trialled in the UK are ‘flying factories’, which are used to construct units off site. Before employing these methods however, project managers should weigh up the risks and rewards.

 A net reduction in risk

Offsite construction can bring many benefits – increasing productivity while decreasing the risk of cost and/or time delays. When off-site construction methods are used, product wastage is minimised and the need for specialist equipment reduced. With fewer specialist skills onsite and less exposure to adverse weather conditions, schedule delays are less likely to occur.

As well as their economic benefits, off-site construction methods can also help to mitigate the risk of injury to members of public. On a ‘traditional’ building site for example, existing homeowners may be resident whilst ongoing works are being carried out, whereas off-site construction methods require fewer materials onsite, which means fewer deliveries.

 

Meticulous planning from the outset

The risks associated with off-site construction can be significant and careful management is needed.  Any errors must be identified during the design stage or sooner, otherwise this could trigger the need for costly re-works at a later stage. This in turn could delay the project considerably.

 

Planning your route

Once constructed, each modular unit needs to be transported from the factory to the construction site. Depending on the size and shape of the unit, careful route planning may be needed to get it to site safely and in one piece. For example, it may be necessary to liaise with third parties such as the Highways Agency and local councils to ensure that any street furniture is removed before the journey is made.

 

Locating a flying factory

Another key risk that should be considered when choosing the location of a flying factory is the availability and accessibility of skilled labour in the area. Failure to address this could force the project team to recruit skilled people from further afield, increasing the overall cost of the project.

 

Best practice improves outcomes

By adopting best practice, project managers can make the most of off-site construction methods, while mitigating any risks. They should start by carrying out a detailed risk assessment at the outset to identify and quantify all risks associated with the project, before preparing a risk register and corresponding mitigation strategies. Comprehensive risk identification and assessment sessions should also take place at regular intervals. regularly. Taking this approach will guarantee educated decision making and improve outcomes.

 

First published at Housebuilder & Developer