As a global building products manufacturer, Sika is among businesses leading the way in terms of developing solutions that enable projects to be built more sustainably. This is reflected in its support of offsite manufacturers. The modular construction process is proven to be less impactful to the environment and more likely to result in a higher-quality, as-designed build that is notable for its energy efficiency. Simon Griffiths, Head of Offsite Construction at Sika UK, tells us about the company’s contribution to the modular market and his future hopes for Modern Methods of Construction (MMC).
Why is Sika particularly well-equipped for offsite construction?
Sika has ‘target markets’ which work in roofing, flooring, sealing & bonding, building finishing, concrete, waterproofing, and so much more. Sika also works in managing risk, which is a really important part of our business. Any offsite manufacturer looking to develop products and systems will be really interested in managing that risk. Therefore, from that perspective, we would be a great partner and well equipped for offsite construction.
What expertise does Sika bring to offsite construction?
Sika is a global business. We turnover 9.24 billion Swiss Francs per year. In each of our regions we have a team that looks after offsite construction, which brings great expertise to projects inclusive of an offsite element to them. We have regular conversations with the teams in each of our regions around the world, which helps to promote shared learning. We also employ over one thousand chemists worldwide. Their job is to not only develop our existing product portfolio, but it is also to innovate and bring brand new products to the marketplace; all of which will be of interest to the offsite market.
What is Sika’s offsite team in the UK?
The UK team comprises of eight people. We have specialisms across a lot of the aforementioned technologies. It is an expert team, and one that is really excited to be a part of this industry. Sika has an extensive R&D capability and global reach. We have a proven track record of working across international markets, many of which are on the pulse of offsite manufacturing’s innovations. Sika’s Offsite Division is utilising this global experience to guide offsite manufacturing companies towards unlocking new potentials. The division can offer a customised approach for modular manufacturers, especially where construction solutions need an industrial approach.
What type of businesses does the offsite team work with?
The key word for us here is ‘collaboration’, but another is ‘early engagement’. It is part of Sika’s mantra to work with every part of the contractual chain. If we can, we will work with clients to completely understand the vision they have for their projects, alongside specifiers to help them push the boundaries of design with our products. Just as importantly, we enjoy working alongside offsite manufacturers to ensure a project’s success. Historically, Sika has manufactured materials for a traditional construction market. Currently, we are working very closely with some offsite manufacturers to develop and tailor our products to how they build.
Why has Sika joined the Offsite Alliance?
We have joined the Offsite Alliance for one simple reason: collaboration. We understand that the only way to effectively push the MMC agenda is to collaborate not only with architects, but with offsite manufacturers, and our own competition in the form of other component manufacturers.
How important is offsite construction to delivering future projects?
Offsite construction is critical not only to delivering projects of the future, but also projects of today. We know that the Government has set some quite ambitious construction targets for 2025, including having to build 300,000 homes per year by that time. That’s quite some challenge. In the UK, only six to ten per cent of houses are currently being built using offsite construction. There are lots of benefits with offsite construction. It offers quality, reduces waste and helps address the all-critical building skills shortage.
In terms of offsite manufacturing and engagement with the building supply chain, what does ‘good’ look like?
Early engagement with the supply chain is an extremely significant part of the offsite manufacturing process. The sooner we can be involved with a particular scheme, the better. Architects, for example, can bring a design together, but unless they truly understand what a product does, the design will not be optimised. Trust is also important. It is a value we’ve institutionalised at Sika because it is such a vital part of any business collaboration.
What’s the biggest challenge in stopping us from achieving that early engagement?
One of the hurdles to engagement over the past two years has been COVID-19. It certainly hindered that all-important collaboration. An additional obstacle to bringing the building supply chain on board at the earliest stage of an offsite project is the mindset of component manufacturers. We need to start thinking slightly differently about how we can deliver products which are specifically developed for offsite construction.
What can be done in the future to help unlock the benefits of collaboration between offsite construction and the supply chain?
One solution would be for manufacturers to think differently. We’ve mentioned how products and materials can be developed to suit the offsite marketplace, but we also need to think about taking a different approach to the construction process itself. This would mean offsite manufacturers embracing companies such as Sika, so we can sit down and develop solutions together. When you have the capabilities of manufacturers such as those involved in the Offsite Alliance, there is the opportunity to start from scratch and develop a new solution that will be critical to the way we build offsite in the future.
Offsite has grown steadily over the past few years. Its benefits are widely known and increasingly understood. We are at a point where we believe that the use of offsite will accelerate to meet the demands of many public and private building projects. With extensive technical expertise and solid practical experience on every continent in many climates and environments, Sika is a highly-qualified, reliable partner for all manner of offsite and construction needs.
For more information on how Sika’s offsite division can help your next building project, CLICK HERE