As the 2017 prefabAUS Conference gets underway, a number of themes are aligning that point to progress.
Our feature on the growth of multi-residential developments (page 21) demonstrates that the large scale re-think of how Australians live, particularly in urban settings, is already well underway, meaning growing pressure on cost, sustainability and speed of delivery will increasingly necessitate the use of offsite.
It’s interesting to note that demand in the multi-residential sector, particularly for affordable housing, is spurring calls to action for more proactive government backing. One way this might be achieved is through pilot schemes for the creation of prefabricated building technology plants. Such facilities already exist in other sectors. The Kangan Tafe Automotive Centre for Excellence at Docklands in Melbourne is a success story for the auto industry; it may be time to get behind a similar initiative for the offsite sector to ensure supply not just of product, but of skilled labour. Skills are just one area in which new thinking needs to occur. Our conference coverage, starting on page 13, examines many of the pressure points at which change will be critical. Building the data infrastructure to support a total BIM environment is another example.
With the conference headlined by International Keynote Speaker Mark Farmer, author of the 2016 UK Government Review of the Construction Labour Market Model, it seems hopeful that Australia has the capacity to create the same ‘step-change’ currently gaining momentum in the UK. It’s a wide-reaching but necessary shift. And it should perhaps take guidance from Einstein’s famed adage that we cannot solve our problems with the same thinking that we used when we created them.■
Managing Editor Built Offsite
This issue of Built Offsite marks a key event in the offsite industry calendar. The prefabAUS 2017 Conference, taking place from 11 – 13 September 2017 at The Glasshouse in Melbourne, is a unique opportunity for industry to come together and share ideas.
Headlining the conference’s impressive speaker line-up, we’re proud to be welcoming Mark Farmer as International Keynote Speaker. Mark is the author of the UK Government Review of the Construction Labour Market Model, ‘Modernise or Die’ and is leading figure in the UK’s movement towards innovating construction delivery. As such he is eminently qualified to speak about the role that government policy, new approaches to manufacturing and a host of other factors must play to ensure a viable offsite industry. For an insight into Mark’s thinking, along with analysis from other conference speakers, coverage starts on page 13.
Another key event at the 2017 PrefabAUS conference will be the Australian launch of the Handbook for the Design of Modular Structures (see page 42). Begun as a passion project of sorts by founder James Murray-Parkes and spearheaded by Monash University, the Handbook initiative has already gained recognition locally and internationally as a unique document that will play a vital role in improving knowledge and confidence around technical aspects of modular and offsite construction.
This year’s conference also features a site visit on day one, other international speakers, Australian and offsite thought leaders, discussion panels and Q&A sessions.
Lastly, one for the diary. prefabAUS 2017 is also pleased to announce that the prefabAUS 2018 Conference will be held at the Brisbane Convention & Exhibition Centre on 11 – 12 September 2018.■