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'Lego-style' componentised connectors for school buildings created | Construction Buzz #218

23 May 2019


A standardised Lego-style system of components for school building construction has moved a step closer, after an Innovate UK-funded project developed a standardised connector to bolt together modular frames.

The SEISMIC (Standardisation of School Components) project is being led by project integrators Blacc and involves offsite manufacturers Elliott Group and McAvoy Group, together with technology-led design firm Bryden Wood and the Manufacturing Technology Centre (MTC).

The consortium is researching a new “building block” system that enables rapid digital design and supply chain alignment. The system is designed to be fully de-constructible as the final assembly is a bolted solution.

Output from the project is expected to be ready for use and adoption later this year. The consortium then aims to build on its initial work with a focus on environmental components, together with the expansion of a digitally-enabled componentised construction production system.

Richard Crosby, director of Blacc, said “By applying greater use of standardisation, the aim is to develop a series of components to enable multiple offsite specialists to achieve unprecedented economies of scale and efficiency in manufacturing. This will bring a higher degree of stability, predictability and transparency to the procurement process – to the benefit of both the client and the supply chain. It represents a window into a brave new world for UK construction.”

'Fundamental catalyst'

Susan Hone-Brookes, chief engineer for construction and infrastructure at the MTC said: “This project will act as the fundamental catalyst which will form the core basis around all future building solutions, be it ‘off-site’, ‘near site’, or on site assembly.  We are at the start of an exciting journey which will ultimately assist in the drive and delivery of the government’s construction targets.  The initial results have been encouraging with the frame component parts delivering a 70% reduction in parts and 50% reduction in weight which all contribute to an impressive embodied carbon reduction. Furthermore, the solution is fully de-constructible as final assembly is a bolted solution.”   

Darrin Witcher, senior transformation advisor at the MTC said the first step on the construction component journey was the standardisation of the modular frame. “The consortium has developed a universal connector which enables frame connections across the industry to be standardised vertically and horizontally.  Think of it as the ‘Lego’ building block for building design," he said.

"Five hundred new schools need to be built every year with a £5 billion investment pipeline. Demand is outstripping supply and without significant innovation it will not be possible to deliver these schools at the volume and pace needed. By standardising, it will be possible to reach design solutions quickly and build schools with components from multiple suppliers, sharing orders and smoothing order books, giving stability and predictability.”

Source: Construction Manager

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