Blog: Offsite SECBE Awards 2019 finalist - Kier

28 May 2019

Sponsored by Heathrow Limited


Offsite construction allows Kier to deliver projects faster, more safely and to better quality standards; and pushes them to form an integrated team much earlier. Collaboratively undertaking design stages with their supply chain enables greater engagement from all parties and, consequently, better results.

Throughout 2018, Kier instigated change on numerous schemes - substituting traditional build methods with prefabrication and collaboratively developing alternative design solutions through early engagement with their supply chain.

  • At Wedge House, the design was reviewed and changed early enough in the procurement process to allow for the use of pre-glazed precast façade panels. They collaborated with specialist subcontractor Thorp Precast to re-engineer the cladding so that scaffolding was no longer required, saving £2m and significantly reducing working at height over a public footpath. Their positive relationship meant Kier had the glazing installed in a second warehouse at their factory, preventing further vehicle movements.
  • At Reading Gateway, the LGS panelised system was initially to be installed first, with interior weatherproof board fixed afterwards. To reduce scaffolding, Kier challenged their specialist contractor Metek to pre-board their system. This was a departure from the norm but the solution worked well, with bathroom pods easily moved into position by 'un-zipping' sections of the frame as required.
  • At Trago Mills, through early engagement with specialist manufacturers Design & Display Structures, Kier redesigned proposals from a traditional build to include prefabricated GRP cladding for the 17 trademark towers. The modular fibreglass moulds are lightweight, strong, durable and fast to assemble.

In 2018, Kier used offsite techniques on active projects worth over £1.8bn. However, their commitment to offsite and modern methods of construction extends beyond their influence on specific projects. Kier has formed innovative collaborations with the Infrastructure Industry Innovation Platform (I3P), the Manufacturing Technology Centre (MTC), Buildoffsite, Constructing Excellence, ProCure22 and Construction Industry Research and Information Association (CIRIA), to name a few - building partnerships with a network of organisations to influence positive change in offsite and modern methods of construction (MMC).

Kier aims to always look at ways to bring new products, processes and techniques to their developments, most recently through their membership with the MTC. This collaboration is helping Kier to forge new pathways through the integration of manufacturing processes into construction and enabling them to develop prototypes of new offsite components and materials. They have also been working with CIRIA and the University of Cambridge to quantify the benefits of offsite manufacture, proving its worth with quantifiable information, collecting data in a format that will enable comparison and identifying a uniform measure for determining productivity.

Recognising the challenges of skills and knowledge gaps in the offsite arena, they welcomed eight new digital construction apprentices to the business in January 2018, who have since been assisting on cutting-edge schemes that combine offsite with the use of repeatable, standardised components, including HMP Wellingborough and Smart Motorways. With an increased focus on accurate sequencing and enhanced logistics for the delivery and installation of pre-manufactured components, their apprentices for the M6 Smart Motorways scheme have been modelling environmental constraints and site interfaces to identify potential issues.

In an attempt to target a general lack of industry self-awareness with regards to offsite construction (often misinterpreted as exclusively volumetric), Kier have gone to considerable effort to showcase the benefits of all types of offsite, evidenced by their commitment to speak at high-profile industry forums and engage individually with public and private sector clients. They have captured and publicised key projects through a continued relationship with the world’s most subscribed-to construction video channel - The B1M - and published a wealth of materials including an offsite-specific area on their website, a new brochure featuring case studies across a variety of sectors, and best practice examples via BuildOffsite.

In April 2018, Kier responded to the House of Lord’s Select Committee’s call for evidence on offsite construction, where they advocated a review of psychological, behavioural and cultural factors to achieve sustainable change. They highlighted that habit and embedded behaviours present the greatest opportunity for change. Embracing their own advice, they published the first volume of their book ‘The Choice Factory’; providing open support and encouragement to the growing pan-industry momentum towards the adoption of offsite, exploring why it matters and what the barriers are to more wide-spread adoption. They hope that the book's insights from behavioural science, as well as showcasing examples of best practice within the industry, may help to accelerate the ‘offsite revolution’.


  • Kier's commitment to instigate change on numerous schemes, substituting traditional build methods with prefabrication and collaboratively developing alternative design solutions through early integration with their supply chain.
  • They are dedicated to supporting their supply chain in terms of skills, quality and capacity, and removing these barriers - to enable the full benefits of offsite solutions to be achieved.
  • They actively promote offsite in order to positively influence the industry by highlighting best practice, making a compelling case for its wider adoption.

For more details:

Visit Kier

The SECBE 2019 Offsite Award is sponsored by Heathrow Limited.

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