The ‘Shaping the Future of Construction — A Breakthrough in Mindset and Technology’ paper supports this view, stating that “while most other industries have undergone tremendous changes over the last few decades”, the construction sector has remained “hesitant about fully embracing the latest technological opportunities”.
According to the paper, this problem can be attributed to various challenges, including the “persistent fragmentation of the industry, inadequate collaboration with suppliers and contractors”, the recruitment of a talented workforce and the “insufficient knowledge transfer from project to project”.
“If you look at every other industry … over the past 100 years, they've all evolved massively, but construction hasn't,” claimed Matt.
“Men still lay one brick on top of another and they've been doing that for about 5,000 years.
“Some of the methods have changed and some of the technology on site has changed, but the general principle is still on site.
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“So, I can see there being a bigger shift towards off site.”
Despite his enthusiasm, Matt explained that the “large upfront payments” needed to kick-start modular projects was the biggest issue facing the industry.
“One of the things that banks and funders generally don't like doing is funding a lot of stuff off site when you've got nothing to show for it on site.
“The reward is huge in terms of time but, at the moment — from a developer viewpoint — it's a lot quicker, but it's [also] more expensive.”
Matt recalled a couple of cases this year where projects that had originally commenced as off-site modular schemes ended up going down the traditional build route due to cost factors.
“…As more and more entrants come into the market from a modular perspective … prices will get driven down, lead times will get shorter, requirements for the amount of money paid upfront will become smaller, which will then make the funding easier to procure and slowly you'll see it grow.”