Premier Modular, one of the UK’s leading offsite construction specialists, has appointed David Harris as Managing Director.

Premier Modular, one of the UK’s leading offsite construction specialists, has appointed David Harris as Managing Director. His appointment follows the retirement of Eugenio de Sa after more than 20 years in the business and who remains as Executive Chairman until the end of 2020.

With over 20 years’ experience in the offsite sector, David has been a Director of Premier since 2011 when he joined to lead its permanent offsite construction division. In 2018 he became Divisional Director with responsibility for Premier’s modular hire business.

One of David’s career highlights was leading negotiations to secure the £50 million contract for the provision of 38,000m2 of office and welfare accommodation for the Hinkley Point C project. This was awarded to Premier and is the company’s largest project to date, involving the offsite manufacture and installation of 900+ modules. The unions working on the nuclear power station site have since recognised the welfare accommodation as the best in Europe.

Commenting on the restructuring, David Harris, said:

“Eugenio is leaving a fantastic legacy. His leadership, commitment and passion for the business have made Premier the force it is today.”

“Our financial performance is one of the strongest in the offsite sector. We have achieved significant growth in the last eight years, taking Premier to a £65m turnover business. We have increased market share in our core sectors – commercial, industrial, education, and healthcare – and are diversifying into new markets such as residential. We are also expanding into new geographical areas, for example building on the success of our hire business in London to supply construction site accommodation to contractors across the UK.”

“Key to our success has been our extremely flexible approach. We offer a full range of design, offsite manufacturing, fitting out and construction services to both contractors and clients. We are also committed to innovation and are developing new building products for hire to meet evolving customer needs.”

“We have a clear vision and strategy for the next phase in our growth and have ambitious plans to increase turnover to £100m in three years, providing a healthy return for shareholders.”

Eugenio de Sa, said, “We are delighted that David is taking full responsibility for leading Premier and for the continued delivery of our strategic growth plan. This is a really exciting phase in the history of the business which is one of the longest established and most successful offsite specialists in the UK.”

“David’s appointment gives us fantastic continuity and he brings a wealth of industry and leadership experience to the role. He is supported by an outstanding management team.”

Premier provides interim modular buildings and bespoke offsite solutions to fulfil almost any application, site and design. It has manufactured buildings for more than 60 years from its head office and production centre in East Yorkshire, and is part of Waco International, a highly successful global industrial services business.

For further information call 0800 316 0888 or email

Work to breathe new life into brownfield land at Icknield Port Loop, close to the heart of Birmingham is being accelerated following a £4m investment by the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA).

The funding paves the way for developers Urban Splash and Places for People to build a further 138 homes using cutting edge construction technology.

At least 20% of these homes will be affordable under the WMCA’s unique definition of affordability.

The WMCA, led by Mayor Andy Street, is committed to a brownfield-first approach to housing, which sees derelict industrial sites cleaned up while precious greenbelt land is protected.

Pioneering brownfield remediation

Andy Street, the Mayor of the West Midlands, said: “One of my key priorities since becoming Mayor has been to been build more homes to meet demand, whilst also protecting precious greenbelt land.

“Before the coronavirus outbreak we were building record numbers of homes, and doing so on old, derelict, industrial sites, thanks to our brownfield-first approach.

“Now housebuilding has an even more important role to play in the West Midlands. Not only do we still need to reach our target of 215,000 new homes by 2031 – protecting greenbelt land in the process – but we now need housebuilding and the wider construction sector to help re-boot our regional economy following the coronavirus pandemic.

“The government appears to be behind our plans, and last week wrote us a cheque for £84m to continue our pioneering brownfield remediation work.

“Icknield Port Loop is a prime example of what we are trying to achieve here in the West Midlands, and I am delighted to see this new waterside community come to life.”

Advanced Manufacturing in Construction

Components for many of the new homes at Port Loop, which will efficiently be part of a new 1,150 home waterside neighbourhood, are being built offsite in factory conditions using Advanced Manufacturing in Construction (AMC).

AMC allows entire building sections, complete with insulation, fitted plumbing, electrics and finishes to be manufactured off-site and installed more quickly and with less waste.

Last month, ten homes were craned in and assembled at Port Loop in just four days with social distancing in place.

Councillor Mike Bird, WMCA portfolio holder for housing and land and leader of Walsall Council, commented: “Having been awarded three Structural Timber Awards, a Sunday Times British Homes Award and the prestigious Housing Design Award, the quality of these new homes shows us just how good AMC can be.

“We’re proud that alongside design and construction excellence, we can offer 20% of the homes as affordable housing, under the WMCA’s own locally determined definition.

“What the project results in is a shining example of the sort of housing developments on derelict industrial land that will help us secure a green and inclusive economic recovery for the West Midlands.

“We are doing this through making homes more sustainable and affordable whilst also providing jobs, training courses and apprenticeships for local people to get the skills needed to work in the advanced manufacturing in construction sector.”

Mark Farmer, chair of the WMCA AMC advisory panel, added: “The announcement of this funding deal demonstrates the clear commitment that WMCA has towards not just delivering more high quality housing in the West Midlands but in driving forward its ambitious AMC agenda.

“Urban Splash are at the forefront of housing design and production innovation and through their MoU with WMCA both parties are now leading the way in modernising how we build new homes in this country.”

Port Loop development

The pioneering Port Loop development is being delivered by a joint venture partnership of Urban Splash and Places for People, alongside the landowners Canal & River Trust and Birmingham City Council.

Speaking on behalf of the joint venture partners, project director Adam Willets, commented: “Innovative and forward-thinking construction methods are helping us create a sustainable new community at Port Loop.

“We have been working alongside architects ShedKM and Glenn Howells to create a diverse housing offering, with typologies which have been designed with internal layouts that provide flexible space for residents.

“Using sustainable modular construction technology enables us to spend more time on developing quality inside and outside spaces for a growing city.”

When completed, Icknield Port Loop will include more than 1,000 homes over 43 acres and new spaces for walking and cycling along the Old Line canal.


Source: PBC Today


Construction journalist and civil engineer, Bruce Meechan gives his perspective on the challenges, and opportunities, presented by the pandemic disruption.


Many commentators as well as Government Ministers are using the phrase ‘new normal’ in reference to the way we will have to live, work and shop for years to come because of the continuing threat posed by Covid-19: the most globally lethal pandemic since the Spanish Flu claimed millions of lives in the aftermath of World War One.

For those of us who have spent our careers in construction, however, there is a justifiable sense of déjà vu regards the impacts of the virus. Yet again our industry has been at the economic epicentre of a recession that has shut sites, closed companies and cost countless workers their jobs.

While many UK businesses simply told their staff to stay away from the office, for tradespeople who spend their days wearing hard hats and steel toecaps, working from home simply wasn’t an option – you just can’t lay bricks on Zoom. Meanwhile those whose building projects were sanctioned as essential, ran the risk of catching the virus by simply travelling to work – a danger made worse in the capital where the posturing mayor chose to cram people into fewer Tube trains.

Now though, with the infection rate apparently receding, and the longest days of summer upon us, building sites and businesses generally are reopening. What then are the prospects for those of us whose livelihoods are dependent on new build developments, RMI work and infrastructure schemes?

As I count this as my fourth recession since I left polytechnic in 1979 and began work with George Wimpey, I believe there are a number of reasons for optimism.

Firstly, it should be noted that the economy was actually in pretty good shape as we began the year, with record numbers of people in employment, the stock market surging and most businesses in a bullish mood. Even die-hard Remainers and lifelong Labour voters must have felt relief at ending three years of parliamentary deadlock.

For everyone apart from a few Chinese scientists and communist party officials, the Coronavirus came completely out of the blue. Even in February as reports were leaking out from this secretive society, and the early cases were occurring in the West, the idea of a pandemic bringing everything to a halt seemed implausible.

Then the pubs shut and the rookie Chancellor had to conjure up an unprecedented rescue package for the economy. And as we peeped out at empty streets, or cursed empty supermarket shelves, the equally green new Bank of England Governor blithely predicted a V-shaped recovery.

According to economists now, we’re looking at a U-profile and, bizarrely, the Footsie has seen its best three-month rise for a decade, with some ‘green shoots’ emerging globally. In the US – where Covid-19 devastated many states – unemployment peaked well short of the worst predictions, while the IMF fancies China will bounce by 8% next year.

From a personal perspective I can report that not only did hardware stores stay open to service the lockdown lust for DIY, but a lot of independent merchants and small builders barely paused their activities.

Undoubtedly the building industry benefits from a can-do attitude, which shames our teaching unions and professions such as dentistry (for whom infection control should be a given at all times), who have sat back complaining about lack of clarity from Ministers.

By contrast, most of our major housebuilders had begun recalling middle management and site safety officers in May or earlier, to devise strategies for safe working. And while the clothes retailers were agonising over the viability of quarantining any clothes customers might try on, Taylor Wimpey was announcing a £500 million land purchasing spree, and committing to pay back the taxpayer money it had received under the furlough scheme. TW boss, Pete Redfern said: “We have seen robust demand throughout the lockdown and have been encouraged by the continued resilience of the housing market.” Redrow is another top housebuilder pledging to hand back billions.

I was further impressed to hear from Chris Hamlett, the MD of northwest based main contractor, Armstrong Projects, who told me his company had only furloughed one worker: an individual with a long term respiratory condition. Other staff had been retrained to work under the safe distancing guidelines and related restrictions, as well as to cover special inspection disciplines temporarily not available via normal channels.

Not only had Armstrong Projects’ three main sites in Manchester, Warrington and Crewe all continued, but the group has recruited two new employees to help launch a venture called Pod Life; building home offices for customers through the adoption of an ICF system.

The latter is of particular significance, because offsite technologies would seem ideally suited to addressing many of the obstacles which Covid-19 requirements pose for traditional building techniques.

We have known since the Eden Report shone a light on our industry’s failings two decades ago that system building increases productivity, predictability and quality of outcome, while reducing defects and injuries to personnel. Now there is the added bonus that transferring operations offsite and into a controlled factory environment should mitigate the chances of transmitting the virus.

The Prime Minister’s speech at a West Midlands plant this week not only pledged £5 billion to build new schools, hospitals, housing and infrastructure, but to build “Better, greener and faster,” with a revolution in UK technology to the fore. Modern and mainly offsite methods of construction must be the best way to deliver on those promises.

Finally, let us remember how this crisis came about, and where it came from.

The Government is rightly backtracking on involving Huawei in our 5G network – which posed a real threat to national security and access to Five Eyes intelligence sharing – and is also reviewing China’s role in our nuclear energy programme. A direct, multi-billion pound beneficiary of the latter should be the consortium involving Rolls Royce and major construction companies, seeking to deliver modular nuclear reactors for sites around the country, and even for export.

One thing the pandemic and the connected PPE shortages has demonstrated is the imperative for our country to be self-sufficient in essentials; including low carbon energy. I would argue, therefore, that our corporations and our communities should look to UK manufacturers as well as our own construction companies to deliver the properties and infrastructure we need for everyday life to continue: whatever that new normal looks like.

JCB has developed what it claims is the construction industry’s first ever hydrogen powered excavator.

The 20 tonne 220X excavator powered by a hydrogen fuel cell has been undergoing rigorous testing at JCB’s quarry proving grounds for more than 12 months. JCB is the first construction equipment company to unveil a working prototype of an excavator powered by hydrogen.

JCB Chairman Lord Bamford said, “The development of the first hydrogen fuelled excavator is very exciting as we strive towards a zero carbon world.

“In the coming months, JCB will continue to develop and refine this technology with advanced testing of our prototype machine and we will continue to be at the forefront of technologies designed to build a zero carbon future.”

Power for JCB’s prototype excavator is generated by reacting hydrogen with oxygen in a fuel cell to create the energy needed to run electric motors. The only emission from the exhaust is water.

The UK-based OEM announced last year that is had gone into full production with the fully electric mini excavator, the 19C-1E. JCB has also extended electric technology to its Teletruk telescopic forklift range with the launch of an electric model, the JCB 30-19E.

As well as working on hydrogen and electric powered equipment JCB says that it has almost eradicated the most harmful emissions from its latest range of diesel engines. According to the company, Nitrous Oxide (NOx) is down 97%, soot particulates down by 98% and Carbon Dioxide (CO2) emissions down by almost half.


Source: International Construction