As part of a three-year project, researchers are studying best practice offsite housing manufacturing in Australia.
This academic–industry partnership explores offsite manufacturing (OSM) techniques that could improve efficiency in the construction industry – reducing construction time and improving housing affordability.
The project, Efficient construction: Analysis of integrated supply chains for innovative offsite housing manufacturing, is led by Professor Kerry London, and the team includes Associate Professor Malik Khalfan and Pablo, Dr Zelinna.
Supported by the Australian Research Council and in partnership with Australand, Metricon, FMG Engineering and Master Builders Association of Victoria, the project has a total budget of over $500,000.
The project focuses on how large-scale collaboration can be successful in an industry known to be fraught by fragmentation.
During the first year, the team will conduct in-depth analyses of collaborative practices across a range of organisations. Data gathering has begun in Victoria and in South Australia. The data collection will include Australian companies as well as international companies with an Australian presence.
The team is using an actor-network theory methodology and qualitative case study techniques. A new conceptual framework to build collaborative practice models will be developed in year two for use by practitioners in the OSM industry. In the project’s final year, innovative interactive training materials will be created for use in virtual simulations involving business collaboration scenarios. Simulations will be run in a special training laboratory—the Innovative Building Leadership Simulation Centre—which is the only one of its kind in the southern hemisphere and is owned by one of our partner organisations, the Master Builders Association Victoria.
Findings are expected to contribute insights to OSM practice in Australia while adding to theoretical discussions on a range of topics, including innovation, collaboration, supply chains and large-scale industry change. As well as providing models for industry, the team is also laying the groundwork for guiding policy in the Australian housing sector.
A PhD candidate has been offered a scholarship in design management and will join the Centre in 2016. The candidate will be jointly supervised by the RMIT research team and an industry supervisor, Mr Peter Bayetto, from industry partner FMG Engineering.