Publications / 2014 Proceedings of the 31st ISARC, Sydney, Australia

Is there Really a Case for Off-Site Manufacturing?

E. Duc, P. J. Forsythe, K. Orr
Pages 238-246 (2014 Proceedings of the 31st ISARC, Sydney, Australia, ISBN 978-0-646-59711-9, ISSN 2413-5844)

The solution often suggested to mitigate poor time, cost and quality in construction is to produce buildings in an automated and industrialised environment. To date, use of Off-Site Manufacturing (OSM) in Australia has enjoyed extremely limited success. Distilling the variables in the success and failure of OSM in other places and applying relevant variables to the Australian context, enables a better response for OSM. The purpose of the paper is therefore to examine whether or not OSM techniques are viable in the Australian housing market. The paper uses a detailed and critical analysis of the literature to examine OSM of housing in various countries, seeking to establish the major reasons for successful and unsuccessful models. The findings are then contrasted with the Australian context seeking criteria to inform successful introduction of OSM into Australia. Among other things, findings indicate the catalyst for the introduction of OSM of housing is almost universally a result of major events such as wars and natural disasters. Innovation has also played a role in encouraging change to construction methods. Whilst the countries addressed have diverse economies and climates compared to each other and Australia, certain common criteria have been found from those examples to assist in modelling an OSM solution in Australia. The implications of this work revolve around the provision of a more efficient, less wasteful and more responsive housing production environment which will potentially improve affordability in the market place.

Keywords: Off-site Manufacturing, housing, drivers and barriers, sustainability, mass customisation