Skip to main content
Home > Team Insight: 3 Strategies that Optimise Modular Manufacture and Construction

As Offsite Engineering Lead at D4S, Adam Harkin brings a holistic
view of the entire MMC framework, with an in-house team
possessing capabilities to deliver a fully coordinated design service,
across categories 1, 2, 3 and 5.

Adam Harkin, Offsite Engineering Lead

In this article, he provides insight towards ways in which industry can work, in order to maximise output and efficiencies within modular manufacture and construction.

A natural at challenging the norm, Adam has an impressive knowledge of existing modular systems, whilst working closely with clients and manufacturers to develop new solutions, either through improving existing systems, or developing something brand new.

Like all of our team, his focus is on delivering results for the client and the end-user and therefore working within a cross-sector and cross-disciplined consultancy, means he can always offer a ‘bigger picture’ solution, thinking beyond modular systems in silo.

Taken from his experiences at D4S and beyond, he has collated his top  3 strategies industry can adopt, towards optimising project outcomes for modular manufacture and construction.


Strategy 1: Take an Agnostic ‘Design First’ Approach

Strategy 2: Design Coordination

Strategy 3: Industry-wide Communication and Collaboration


Strategy 1: Take an Agnostic ‘Design First’ Approach

Adopting an ‘whole project’ mindset plays dividends at the manufacture and construction stage. We’ve collaborated with many manufacturers, to enable them to either develop new, or even enhance existing systems based on their project goals. In doing this we keep in mind other important factors crucial for a successful build. Sometimes, that means bringing in both traditional and offsite structural and civil engineers during the design phase.

At D4S, we utilise expertise across the entire spectrum, to identify the advantages and disadvantages of different modular systems, whilst considering how decisions around the superstructure, affect the substructure and foundations. Our typical project review team, comprises in-house specialists, including modular engineers, traditional structural engineers, BIM consultants and connection design engineers. Investing in this way during the feasibility stage, alleviates challenges that often arise later in scheme delivery and ensures that the client is provided with the most optimal solution from the outset. It’s essential to more accurate planning of resource, better timescale management and material requirements.

Strategy 2: Design Coordination

Through standardising the practice of engineers, construction modellers and steelwork detailers working together during the design phase, we can further create efficiencies at the manufacture stage and beyond. This collaborative model offers a host of benefits throughout the workflow, right up until completion on site, including;

  • Enhanced system reviews and development options which encompass knowledge from specialist MMC detailers and therefore ensures all aspects of construction are considered from factory assembly, through to on-site.
  • Design with manufacture and installation in mind, with fully BIM coordinated Tekla models. This ensures data is accurate and up-to-date, through automatic lists for weights, materials and assemblies, providing cost certainty, whilst also enabling the manufacturer to construct with total confidence.
  • De-risking prior to manufacture, through taking greater responsibility during the design stages, with the capability to identify and rectify potential construction issues early in the project workflow.
  • Design optimisation using collective knowledge to adopt the solution which maximises construction quality, discovers material efficiencies, whilst considering site safety, transportation and lifting strategies, along with minimising on-site disruption and waste.
D4S Delivery Framework

The D4S Delivery Framework is a methodology we have developed at Design4Structures which encompasses the Design First/Design Coordination approach. Developed in line with the RIBA Plan of Works, it takes projects from concept to manufacture, minimising risk and creating project certainty for the manufacturer.

Strategy 3: Industry-wide Communication and Collaboration

I was asked recently, why I thought the governments offsite strategy hadn’t quite achieved its intended results.
My answer? Lack of buy in from all parties, which crucially comes down to lack of communication. It also references back to my earlier point of taking the holistic view on projects, and in this case the modular sector. 

We need a clear communication strategy that encompasses the entire sector, and the professional services that support its functioning, to move forward and effectively establish modular as the norm, particularly in relation to homebuilding at scale. Lack of knowledge within areas, such as warranties and insurance, places limitations on modular companies reaching their full potential. 

To achieve the full potential of offsite construction, it is critical that we improve the way we collaborate and communicate, to create more streamlined and efficient build processes. The entire modular sector, should be working together, to develop common systems (kit of parts) and sets of rules, that offer flexibility to end-users, whilst ensuring design and production efficiencies within the manufacturing process.

If you’d like to learn more about Adam’s 3 strategies, find out how the D4S Delivery Framework can be applied to your own manufacturing processes, or would like a copy of our modular volumetric capability statement, drop him an email:

Leave a Reply