A collaborative innovation project, aimed at helping to tackle the UK housing crisis by using industrialised offsite solutions to deliver high-quality homes faster, more reliably and at the same cost of masonry-built homes, has been awarded funding under the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund, administered by Innovate UK, part of UK Research and Innovation.
The £6.5 million R&D project, known as Advanced Industrialised Methods for the Construction of Homes (AIMCH), is a collaboration between Stewart Milne Group, Barratt Developments PLC, London & Quadrant Housing Trust Ltd, Tarmac Trading Ltd, the Manufacturing Technology Centre (MTC), the Construction Scotland Innovation Centre (CSIC) and Forster Roofing Services Ltd as the SME partner. The project will be managed by Limberger Associates.
The Government has stated that the UK needs an additional 120,000 homes each year but the housing sector faces many challenges in meeting this target, including skills shortages, an ageing workforce, poor productivity, low output and low affordability.
The three-year AIMCH project aims to tackle all these challenges and become a major player in the housing sector by identifying and developing industrialised offsite solutions needed to meet current and future housebuilding demands. These will be trialled on live housing projects, with successful new methods then being commercialised and brought to market in volume.
It is expected that AIMCH will result in new digital design tools, manufacturing advancements, improved near-to-market offsite systems and lean site processes. The ultimate goal of the project is to support the sector by delivering the target of 120,000 homes for the same or less cost than traditional craft methods, 30% more quickly and with a 50% reduction in defects. The project has potential to impact on 35,000 homes being delivered by AIMCH partners across the UK each year.
Stewart Dalgarno, AIMCH project director and director of product development at Stewart Milne Group said: “We need tens of thousands of new homes across the UK every year, but it’s also vital that these new homes are of a higher quality, leading to increased customer satisfaction and improved building performance. Digital working and industrialised offsite construction can be part of the solution, but they have not yet broken through as viable mainstream alternatives to traditional methods of building homes.
“AIMCH’s ambition is to use industrialisation to transform how we build our homes in the UK, leading to more homes that can be built quickly and viably. We believe it will be the catalyst the housing sector needs to move towards advanced digital integrated manufacturing, whilst overcoming the challenges that stand between the sector today and where it needs to go in the future.”
Mike Pitts from Innovate UK added: “We are excited about the possibilities of this project, which we hope will be a game-changer for the housing sector. The partners are experienced innovators and offer scale to showcase a world-leading solution. It brings CSIC and MTC’s innovation and industrialisation capability together with high profile housing and offsite manufacturing providers, who provide scale and a clear route to market. It has the potential to deliver wider sector benefits in terms of jobs, investment and growth.”