This issue’s look at how offsite construction is responding to the pressing needs of the German market (see page 28) puts the efforts of Australia’s nascent sector into perspective. Demand on these shores may not yet be as glaringly apparent as that in Germany, but the growing requirement for affordable housing in our cities and for more sustainable, less wasteful building solutions means there should be no room for complacency. There are also useful lessons to be learned from the experience of other more mature markets such as Germany who are now keenly focused on offsite methodologies to meet their needs.
Meanwhile, progressing from last issue’s interrogation of design, in this issue we grapple with the useful precepts of Design for Manufacturing and Assembly (DfMA). Anyone engaging in the offsite sector will have a passing understanding of DfMA; as one industry representative I spoke to put it: “Even if you don’t call it that, or you don’t know you’re doing it, if you’re working in offsite construction, you’re using DfMA.” Demanding a greater understanding of “the whole” at the outset of any scheme, DfMA is a philosophy rather than a prescriptive program, and can be applied in numerous forms. What’s universally true about it however is that it demands new ways of thinking and a high level of inter-disciplinary collaboration. See our coverage starting on page 12 ■
Managing Editor Built Offsite
Welcome to this our third edition of Built Offsite.
I am delighted to be announcing this year’s annual PrefabAUS conference to be held in Melbourne. Be sure to mark the 11-13 September dates in your diary (site visit program on the Monday followed by two days of conference format proceedings). Thank you to the many delegates (over 25%) who completed the 2016 conference survey and provided us with valuable feedback and suggestions. It was especially pleasing that over 95 of respondents intend participating again in this year’s conference. Planning for the event is already underway, with sponsorship opportunities to open very soon.
For those less familiar with PrefabAUS, our membership includes a cross section of the construction industry; architects, builders, engineers and other technical consultants, manufacturers of prefabricated buildings and modules, flat packs, bathroom pods and sub-assemblies, component suppliers, project managers, client organisations, allied Industry associations, government agencies and the academic/research community. This data depicts the membership breakdown by industry profile; 14% Arch & Design, 28% Manufacturer, 13% Supplier, 5% Client, 15% Consultant, 12% Research, 3% Builder, 10% Others.
Our first PrefabAUS study tour has been very well received by members and will take place in May this year when we travel to Sweden, which is the leading exponent of panelised building systems, with around 80% of houses being factory-built.
All indicators are for continued momentum for offsite construction. Certainly this is suggested by continued strong membership growth PrefabAUS enjoys across the construction industry.
Best wishes for a most successful 2017.■