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May 20, 2021 Articles

Stop constructing, start assembling!

Nick Preedy
Head of Manufacturing and Assembly

We live in a digitally enabled world, one which is evolving rapidly. Everyday consumables and technology based solutions continue to become a mainstay of making our lives easier, and something I imagine most of us would now struggle to do without.

Through a regular stream of updates, the simple click of a button enables the technology such as our phones, laptops and other smart devices to be transformed once more into the best version of themselves, with all previously identified issues resolved to take away the stress of poor performance. You may wonder why this has anything to do with construction, but it is a glimpse into the future of what the industry could be. Allow me to explain why…

On a personal level, I am extremely lucky to have built my career in operations over the past 12 years with Willmott Dixon’s Midlands office before moving to Collida.

Winning a Gold Medal at the CIOB Construction Manager of the Year Awards has to be my greatest achievement to date, and the people I have met and worked with along the way have inspired me to continue to push the boundaries of what is possible.

Those 12 years have resulted in some fantastic, tangible buildings forming environments for education, science, wellness, commercial growth and collaboration. But what I have found a struggle, is when delivering these projects I have been often left battling supply shortages, labour capabilities and ever-increasing technical standards.

One of my more recent traditional design and build projects is a good example. Trying to communicate with and coordinate 34 separate design partners, all federated by one lead architect, to deliver a project correctly first-time round – although not impossible, such situations don’t exactly give everyone the best chance to succeed! It is a wonder how our industry ever delivers defect free projects with such design hoops to jump through.

And then when we do move onto our next project, we repeat the cycle once again – with little benefit carried over from before. How rarely do we ‘update’ our approach and our product?

This was my catalyst for change.

“Through a regular stream of updates, the simple click of a button enables the technology such as our phones, laptops and other smart devices to be transformed once more into the best version of themselves.”

Just as in the case of your smart device, we shouldn’t expect to be faced with problems after purchase…and achieving this fundamentally comes down to the quality of both design and components. As an industry, and as highlighted in the Construction Playbook, we must adopt more manufacturing and assembly mindsets, helping to absorb and develop solutions for the problems we face on a daily basis.

My new title is Head of Manufacturing and Assembly for Collida. Although it doesn’t sound very ‘construction’, I think it perfect as a representation of the significant change in mindset we are trying to drive. My challenge is to work alongside our incredible in-house design talent; to not draw in lines anymore, but instead model in terms of components, assemblies and model groups which can then be manufactured and assembled, in the most optimum way using DfMA approaches. After all, nothing is more important than creating verified, simple, sustainable, affordable, and buildable designs for our customers.

To explain this better, imagine trying to buy an Ikea wardrobe – they offer you a design, cost and simplicity of ordering process. Do you want it in white or grey? Do you want shelves? Do you want hinged or sliding doors? All simple decisions, but all key in order for you to understand your grey, shelved, sliding door wardrobe will cost £215 – and even better, you can take it home with you today and have it assembled by tonight.

With each component pre-designed, its data verified and stored and its availability constantly updating, this is my translation to how Collida will refine each customer’s brief into a finished product: How many homes would you like? What type of roof? What materials? Carpet or tiles? And in real time everyone can understand the cost; the energy use; and how and when they can be assembled – the benefits could be limitless.

And when we couple this with the ability to capture every lessons learned and immediately channel that learning back into our design and procurement strategy, we can start to imagine a much easier and enjoyable journey. One where our projects truly benefit from every project that has gone before and we create a virtuous circle of continuous product improvement.

At Collida we don’t accept second best – every day we strive to create this future. It is time to stop constructing and start assembling. Through Collida’s integrated digital platform, it really can be as simple as a click of a button!

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