Home Commercial Property New £45 million off-site construction factory launched by British Offiste

New £45 million off-site construction factory launched by British Offiste

by LLP Editor
4th Jul 23 5:12 pm

British Offsite, the leading build offsite company of Weston Group plc, has launched ‘Horizon’, a new £45 million 137,000 sq.ft. offsite construction factory in Braintree, designed in collaboration with Swedish robotic engineering firm Randek AB, which uses state-of-the-art robotic automated manufacturing to deliver a light gauge steel panel system and other components used for the onsite delivery of the superstructure and internal fit out of houses, multi-rise and high-rise developments.

Once fully operational the new factory in the Horizon Business Park will be able to assist with the delivery of up to 4,000 new homes per year, with building components provided to both Weston Homes, the Group’s volume housebuilding division, and also sold on the open market to builders and contractors in the construction sector, including local and regional house builders.

The ‘Horizon’ factory will produce British offsite’s UniSystem range that includes light gauge panels, walls, roofs and floors, with the panels having windows, doors, insulation, vents, fire stopping and external cladding in place, manufactured exactly to a developer’s needs. The UniSystem is a specially developed hybrid MMC that is highly flexible and allows rapid integration into traditional building design.

In addition, British Offsite also manufactures internal fitout modules, under their BOS Fitout brand, which includes bathroom components, kitchen and bedroom products, designed to be easily integrated into existing projects, with full quality control testing before elements reach site.

The initial design concepts and commissioning of technology for the factory started three years ago, with the actual construction of the building taking 12 months. The completed factory has a glass and Trimco-panels façade with solar panels on the roof to help ensure sustainability and maxiumum power generation, with special energy monitoring systems to review factory production capacity.

Inside the state-of-the-art automated production line, inspired by the automotive industry and designed by Randek AB, represents £5.3 million of capital expenditure and is based around eight robots, designed and supplied by Randek Robotics.

British Offsite is the first Randek AB customer in the UK to receive the new machinery, automation and productivity solutions. The robots work together in three teams to control a series of zero-labour production cells including fitting insulation panels, fitting plasterboard panels and cutting window openings.

Underlining the ambitions of the factory, each of the robots is named after UK cities: Edinburgh (robot 1), Cardiff (2), Belfast (3), London (4), Manchester (5), Liverpool (6), York (7) and Cambridge (8). The production line delivery is not limited to housebuilding and has the capacity for doing modular school building, healthcare facilities and student accommodation.

Once the factory is fully operational it will run a two shift system five days a week. British Offsite anticipate that 180 people will work on the factory floor and offices over the two shifts.

Alongside the triple-height main factory floorspace containing the production line there is 20,000 sq.ft. of office, R&D suite, marketing and staff welfare facilities including a canteen and health-screening clinic. Entrance to the factory is via a glass fronted double-height atrium with a contemporary chandelier and granite-effect feature wall with the British Offsite logo.

High-speed lifts give access to the state-of-the-art client marketing suite and meeting rooms on an upper level of the factory, the marketing suite having video-screens for new business presentations and James-Bond style automatic shutters able to rise dramatically to reveal full height windows overlooking the factory floor below.

The R&D suite has a dual role, firstly as an induction centre for new employees initiated into the respective roles before going onto the factory floor, and secondly another part of the suite is used to research and develop new products in time to come.

The launch of ‘Horizon’ is another step in the British Offsite ‘mission statement’ of making the transition to offsite construction a natural evolution for traditional developers, whilst saving clients time, space and resources on site. The UniSystem produced by the factory is flexible and can be used for hybrid MMC elements in houses, mid-rise and high-rise sites, including those in high density urban areas.

The factory’s innovative hybrid MMC approach means the time between a site’s ground-breaking and first handovers can be reduced by up to 20%. One fully dressed UniSystem panel can be produced every 15 minutes, and the panels for one entire apartment can be produced every 60 minutes.

British Offsite say using a hybrid MMC approach to traditional building concepts allows for a much greater freedom of architectural design, so in high density urban regeneration, it means that developers can avoid volumetric boxes and utilise innovative architectural design.

The factory built components are also environmentally sustainable. The use of lightweight responsibly sourced steel frames (containing 38% recycled steel), rather than forest timber, is environmentally responsible, enables close monitoring of quality and abides by the new fire regulations. The superior air tightness of the UniSystem due to precision manufacturing, increases insulation and helps to reduce household energy consumption. Just in time production methods allows for fewer site deliveries and fewer trades on site, which minimises road miles and energy consumption of deliveries.

In addition, the BOS Fitout internal modules such as bathroom components, kitchen and bedroom products, can be easily integrated into conversion projects such as the reuse of redundant former hospitals, public buildings or offices for new housing.

‘Horizon’ is the second offsite construction factory launched by British Offsite. In 2019, the company opened ‘Skyline’, a 75,000 sq.ft. high-tech manufacturing space on Avenue East in Braintree where the BOS Fitout modules are produced and where the UniSystem was originally manufactured. ‘Skyline’ can contribute to the delivery of up to 1,000 new homes per annum, with ‘Horizon’ now allowing for the quadrupling of production capacity.

Bob Weston, Chairman of British Offsite & Weston Group says: “Working with Randek AB, the launch of the ‘Horizon’ factory has created one of the most automated light guage steel panel assembly lines in Europe and the largest single production line in the UK. Offsite construction is the future of the housebuilding industry and homes manufactured at ‘Horizon’ can be tailored to a development’s unique design vision.”

Shaun Weston, Managing Director of British Offsite says: “British Offsite is proud to be part of the new wave of high tech British manufacturing, bringing very significant new capabilities to the UK construction industry. The new robotic production line at ‘Horizon’ allows for the consolidation of the work of up to five trades into one panel. Our MMC products are designed to be easily integrated into existing projects, helping to streamline traditional residential construction.”

For further information on British Offsite Tel: 01371 707270 E: [email protected] or visit: www.britishoffsite.com

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