Offsite Hub project hailed a success

University has key role in collaboration

Date posted

27 January 2016


A UK Government report has identified the University’s key role in the formation of a new industry hub for Offsite Construction.

The UK Commission for Employment and Skills invested in offsite construction skills via the UK Futures Programme Productivity Challenge 1 in order to design solutions to workforce requirements. 
Offsite Hub (Scotland) was one of five projects which were funded and was led by Edinburgh Napier University in partnership with CCG (OSM) and Stewart Milne Timber Systems (SMTS), two of the largest timber frame manufacturers in the UK. 
Additional academic support came from Heriot Watt University.

The project worked towards three key outputs: 
- Development of bespoke training materials for industry partners 
- Development of generic training materials for the use of the wider construction sector 
- Scaling up and internationalisation of the Offsite Hub (Scotland)

Following the success of the project, CCG have implemented an advance offsite training process for their factory operatives and SMTS have launched a training academy at their Whitney facility with an emphasis on the site assembly of their enhanced panelised systems.

The industry specific literature, videography and animation training content developed was then spliced with other video captured content and augmented with available information to create ‘Building Offsite: an introduction’.

This freely available ‘live pdf’, which has embedded video and animation content, serves as an up-to-date introductory training publication and has been endorsed by the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) for Continual Professional Development (CPD) purposes.
Going forward, the collaborative framework of the Scottish Offsite HUB is being further developed and expanded via the Construction Scotland Innovation Centre (CSIC), one of eight Scottish Funding Council (SFC) funded Innovation Centres set up to support industry-led innovation.
The CSIC Offsite HUB has currently broadened its industry collaborative partners to also include MAKAR Construction, Carbon Dynamic, Alexander Timber Design, Oregon Timber Frame and Scotframe.
The now seven industry partners have helped shaped a strategy for Scottish Offsite in order that it can meet the future sector UK demand given it is projected to grow from £1.5bn to £6bn (UKCES, 2014).
This collaborative framework has the potential to expand further and working with the Innovation Centre and Academia can additionally tap into the wider UK and international offsite network.
This approach was exemplified during a recent learning journey to the US which incorporated an industry-led UK, US and Swedish Offsite Construction International workshop held in Boston.
The workshop was co-hosted by the University of Utah, our University and Lulea University of Technology and provided a platform to progress an international, industry-led conversation on how to scale offsite.
The findings from this workshop that was supported by Scottish Enterprise and Scottish Development International, will be presented and taken forward at the 2016 Modular and Offsite Construction (MOC) Summit.
Dr Robert Hairstans, Head of Centre at the Centre for Offsite Construction, said: “There is a real opportunity of Scottish Offsite to scale, but in order to do so it needs enhanced capacity and skills at all levels. 
“This project served to do this via a collaborative effort and with an RIBA endorsed publication, which is gaining international recognition as a go to source, as an output, we are really pleased with how all different levels of work turned out."