British Offsite announces new automated construction factory
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British Offsite announces new automated construction factory

Mar 21, 2024

Working in collaboration with Swedish robotic engineering firm Randek AB, British Offsite’s new offsite automated construction factory will deliver components for superstructure and the internal fit-out of houses, multi-rise and high-rise developments.

The 137,000 sq.ft. factory will use state-of-the-art robotic automated manufacturing to create light gauge steel panel systems, helping to deliver up to 4,000 homes a year as part of a hybrid MMC approach.

Components will be supplied to British Offsite’s parent group Weston Homes, as well as being available on the general market for local and regional house builders.

The ‘Horizon’ factory will produce British Offsite’s UniSystem range, a hybrid MMC technology that includes light gauge panels, walls, roofs and floors, with the panels having windows, doors, insulation, vents, fire stopping and external cladding in place, manufactured exactly to a developer’s needs.

One fully dressed UniSystem panel can be produced every 15 minutes, and the panels for one entire apartment can be produced every 60 minutes.

The BOS Fitout internal modules can be easily integrated into conversion projects such as the reuse of redundant former hospitals, public buildings or offices for new housing.

The factory’s hybrid MMC approach means the time between a site’s ground-breaking and first handovers can be reduced by up to 20%.

Randek Robotics has designed the machinery, which will operate in three teams and represent around £5.3m of capital expenditure.

Each of the robots is named after UK cities: Edinburgh, Cardiff, Belfast, London, Manchester, Liverpool, York and Cambridge.

The production line delivery is not limited to housebuilding and has the capacity for doing modular school building, healthcare facilities and student accommodation.

Once the factory is fully operational it will run a two shift system five days a week. British Offsite anticipate that 180 people will work on the factory floor and offices over the two shifts.

The offsite automated construction factory production line space is at triple-height, with 20,000 sq.ft. of office, R&D suite, marketing and staff welfare facilities including a canteen and health-screening clinic attached.

The completed factory has a glass and Trimco-panels façade with solar panels on the roof to maximise energy efficiency, as well as energy monitoring systems.

The use of lightweight responsibly sourced steel frames (containing 38% recycled steel), rather than forest timber, is environmentally responsible, enables close monitoring of quality and abides by new fire regulations.

The superior air tightness of the UniSystem due to precision manufacturing, increases insulation and helps to reduce household energy consumption.

Swift production methods allows for fewer site deliveries and fewer trades on site, which minimises road miles and energy consumption of deliveries.

In 2019, the company opened ‘Skyline’, a 75,000 sq.ft. high-tech manufacturing space on Avenue East in Braintree where the BOS Fitout modules are produced and where the UniSystem was originally manufactured.

‘Skyline’ can contribute to the delivery of up to 1,000 new homes per annum, with ‘Horizon’ now allowing for the quadrupling of production capacity.

Bob Weston, chairman of British Offsite & Weston Group says: “Working with Randek AB, the launch of the ‘Horizon’ factory has created one of the most automated light gauge steel panel assembly lines in Europe and the largest single production line in the UK. Offsite construction is the future of the housebuilding industry and homes manufactured at ‘Horizon’ can be tailored to a development’s unique design vision.”

Shaun Weston, managing director of British Offsite says: “British Offsite is proud to be part of the new wave of high tech British manufacturing, bringing very significant new capabilities to the UK construction industry.

“The new robotic production line at ‘Horizon’ allows for the consolidation of the work of up to five trades into one panel. Our MMC products are designed to be easily integrated into existing projects, helping to streamline traditional residential construction.”

You can read more about the advantages of offsite construction here.

British OffsiteYou can read more about the advantages of offsite construction here.