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70 STRUCTURAL ELEMENTS


Meeting the offsite challenge


ADF looks at how one firm is embracing the supply chain challenge of timber housebuilding as the industry transitions to modular offsite construction


Cooperation is an important step in expanding the wood construction sector – including urban


construction, where the greatest potential is


he construction industry is undergo- ing a major transition, with construction moving from building sites to offsite manufacturing. Industrially standardised products increase the quality and efficiency of construction. The turnaround time on building sites is short- ened and the amount of errors reduced, and there is hardly any wastage of materials. The potential of wood in this process is undeniable and today, offsite timber construction has major aspirations. Prefabricated wood elements enable fast, efficient and environmentally sound design without reducing quality. Studies on the benefits of such a lean approach are compelling. In a 2011 study of companies that have applied lean construction methods (McGraw Hill Construction, ‘Prefabrication and Modularization – Increasing Productivity in the Construction Industry’), 84 per cent reported higher quality in construction and 80 per cent experienced greater customer satisfaction. The report also highlighted that almost 70 per cent of projects that used prefabri- cated elements had shorter schedules and 65 per cent had reduced construction cost. Timber prefab construction also reduces other inconveniences such as the constant unloading of building materials, as well as the amount of on-site waste and the need to transport it.


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Innovation in the housebuilding sector is much needed to achieve the Government target of 300,000 homes a year required in the UK, and offsite timber construction could be central to this. One firm which is championing timber’s contribution is Metsä Wood, whose Kerto LVL (Laminated Veneer Lumber), is used to help homes constructed offsite to be turned around in a matter of weeks. Modern engineered wood products can be used for a variety of


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housing projects ranging from terraced and detached homes through to apartment blocks several stories high.


The company has been making substan- tial efforts to find permanent partners for industrial wood construction, with the aim being to develop a project delivery network based around Kerto LVL products. “We are aiming to build a wood-based ecosystem in Europe – a network of special- ists, each of whom focuses on their core business,” says Juha Kasslin, vice president, central Europe and sales development. He adds: “Metsä Wood’s core business will be industrial-scale LVL manufacturing, and our partner network will carry out a lot of product development based on our products. This arrangement will benefit the growth of the entire ecosystem. Cooperation is an important step in expanding the wood construction sector – including urban construction, where the greatest potential is”. Metsä Wood has long-term supply and cooperation agreements with LVL element builders, such as Finnish operators Lapwall and Sisco. Metsä Wood supplies fixed- length Kerto LVL products from which its partners manufacture roof, floor and wall elements, as well as complete modules. Sisco’s rapid growth is “proof that Kerto


LVL can be used for practically all construc- tion purposes,” says the firm. It points to the increasing sales in prefabricated bathroom and kitchen modules and apartment modules as indications that wooden apart- ment buildings are the shape of things to come. This is shown by Sisco’s ambitious goal to increase the share of tall wooden buildings in Finland from 3-4 percent to 10 percent within the next five years. “A suitable base for each building project can be assembled from modules, and the architect can then create an impressive


ADF FEBRUARY 2018


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