How Offsite Manufacturing Can Help Contractors in a Pandemic

James Stephens, Managing Director of Offsite Solutions, looks at how bathroom and utility pods are helping contractors in the coronavirus pandemic.

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Construction sites operating during the coronavirus pandemic have to ensure they are protecting their workforce and minimise the risk of spread of infection.

New site safety guidance from the Construction Leadership Council states that “where it is not possible to follow the social distancing guidelines in full in relation to a particular activity, you should consider whether that activity needs to continue for the site to continue to operate, and, if so, take all the mitigating actions possible to reduce the risk of transmission”.

Following the release of this guidance, more contractors are re-starting work on sites across the country. Project teams are working with their respective clients and supply chain partners to assess how essential works can be planned, but typically sites are operating with significantly reduced labour and resources.

One of the key challenges for contractors is how to maintain social distancing on site. There are also clearly major cost implications as a result of the unavoidable reductions in productivity and the ability to deliver projects on time and on budget.

The major advantage of bathroom pods in the current climate is the reduction of around 14 different trades or operations required for bathroom construction on site to one single pod supplier. Similar benefits can be applied to the use of pods for utility rooms.

Maintaining safe social distancing in a factory

As a leading pod manufacturer, we are able to maintain the safe social distancing requirements much more easily in a controlled factory environment. Measures we have taken include reducing the number of pods to space the units out on each production line and work on the inside or outside of each pod is limited to one member of our team.

Where our production staff need more than one person to lift a shower screen or cabinet into place, for example, they are equipped with full PPE.

These measures have still had an impact on our outputs each week, but we consistently work four to six weeks ahead of our customers’ delivery dates, so there has been no impact or delays for any of our customers to date, and those service levels will be maintained.

Where sites have to remain closed, we are still manufacturing pods for these projects so the units can be delivered and installed as soon as our customers need them, thereby minimising overall project delays.

Other benefits of bathroom and utility pods that have become even more important in the current pandemic are the reductions in waste such as packaging and fewer deliveries of materials to site compared to traditional construction. The need for consistent cleaning in high-activity areas on site such as bathrooms is also removed with the use of offsite manufacturing.

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