UK: Cost Of Investment And Lack Of Expertise Key Barriers Hindering UK Off-Site Manufacturing Revolution
Last Updated: 17 September 2018

The cost of investment and lack of relevant knowledge within organisations are the two primary barriers stopping the development of off-site manufacturing (OSM) in the construction sector, according to a report from global law firm Clyde & Co – 'Innovation in Construction Report'.

A survey of 31 C-suite executives from the UK's top 50 construction firms found that 59% of them believe investment costs are the primary factor hindering the implementation of OSM, followed by a lack of relevant expertise within their organisation (48%) [see chart 1 below].

The construction industry is yet to reach critical mass as far as the use of OSM techniques is concerned. The vast majority (80%) of survey respondents' organisations only use OSM for between 1-20% of the construction work they carry out.

However, its use is expected to increase within the next five years. 61% say they expect to double the amount of construction work that they carry out using OSM. Using it for between 20-40% of the construction work they carry out [see chart 2 below].

It's a similar picture with plans for investment. Just over half (55%) of survey respondents invested only 0-2% of revenue on OSM in the last five years, while in five years' time just 6% expect to invest at this low level. The majority plan to invest much more – 39% plan to invest between 3-5% and 42% between 6-20% of revenue in OSM [see chart 3 below].

Robert Meakin, projects & construction partner at Clyde & Co, comments: "OSM has been at the bottom of the UK construction industry's tool box for decades but it is now being heralded by many as the key to tackling chronic low productivity problems."

"Over the last couple of years momentum has been building and with the Government now actively encouraging the use of OSM in some of its projects, the tipping point appears to be within reach."

Clyde & Co explains that the Government has recently committed to adopting a "presumption in favour of off-site construction" across several key departments, including transport, defence, health and education. In addition, the 'Construction Sector Deal' launched this summer identified OSM as one of its key areas of focus.

Meakin continues: "Of course, one persistent problem that needs to be addressed is the lack of a secure pipeline of projects. Since the decline of PFI / PPP at the beginning of the decade, the industry has been dismayed by a severely limited flow of new schemes. As industry experts told us in our report, it would be a very difficult commercial decision to invest seriously in OSM technology without a clear plan of how and when it will deliver a return."

Investment and skills shortage

Clyde & Co's 'Innovation in Construction Report' contains insight from interviews with 15 C-suite executives from across the construction industry, including Mark Farmer of Cast, Toby Uppington of AECOM, Susan-Hone Brooks of the Manufacturing Technology Cenrtre, Jamie Johnston of Bryden Wood and Matt Gough of Mace and among others.

According to the report, the top three reasons cited for investing in OSM are:

  • To improve efficiency and reduce costs (97%)
  • To overcome new challenges in construction (84%)
  • To help overcome the skills shortage (61%)

Meakin comments: "The primary driver for investing in OSM is clearly about improving productivity and using new techniques to overcome fresh challenges. Down the line it should also help to reduce the skills shortage, using modern production line techniques where traditional manual labour might previously have been required."

"However, it is ironic that so many would invest in OSM to overcome the skills shortage, when one of the key barriers to implementation is a lack of relevant expertise. This will not be missed by UK construction's boardrooms."

"It is something of a chicken and egg situation. Those who find a solution are likely to gain a clear advantage over their competition. We may soon find the construction industry starting to look to the manufacturing sector for new recruits."

Legal hurdles

The 'Innovation in Construction Report' also considers some of the key legal and regulatory hurdles that might hinder the adoption and roll out of OSM.

Meakin says: "To keep all this innovation on track, a robust legal framework will be essential, from contract terms for supply and installation to professional indemnity and product liability, and effective regulation of environmental, health and safety, and employment issues."

"As the risk landscape changes, organisations need to ensure they understand the new threats they could face as a result of embracing new technologies and working practices."

Download the report here.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

In association with
Press Releases from this Firm
Recent Content from this Firm
By Michael Cripps, Xiaolin Lin
By Clyde & Co LLP
By Peter Kasanda, Amalia Lui, Michaela Marandu
By Clyde & Co LLP
By Alain Sfeir, Rizwan Osman, Abdulrahman Al-Ohaly, Shahd Makhafah
By Robert Meakin, Kendall Evans
By Jo-Anne Demers, Jérémie Torres-Ceyte
By Chris Holme
By Michael Cripps, Xiaolin Lin
By Mark Howard, Terry Saeedi, Paul Hodges, Matthew Ambler
Font Size:
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Registration (you must scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of

To Use you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.


The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.


Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions