British Offsite, the build offsite company of Weston Group plc, has launched ‘Horizon’, a new £45million, 137,000sq.ft. construction factory in Braintree, which will implement state-of-the-art robotic automated manufacturing.
Designed in collaboration with Swedish robotic engineering firm, Randek AB, it will deliver a light gauge steel panel system and other components used for the on-site delivery of the superstructure and internal fit-out of houses, multi-rise and high-rise developments.
Once fully operational, the new factory in the Horizon Business Park will help to deliver up to 4,000 new homes per year, with building components provided to Weston Homes as well as to be sold on the open market to builders and contractors, including local and regional housebuilders.
The ‘Horizon’ factory will produce British Offsite’s hybrid MMC UniSystem range 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.
British Offsite also manufactures internal fit-out modules under its BOS Fitout brand, which includes bathroom components, kitchen and bedroom products, designed to be easily integrated into existing projects.
Inside, the state-of-the-art automated production line, inspired by the automotive industry and designed by Randek AB, represents £5.3 million of capital expenditure and is based around eight robots, designed and supplied by Randek Robotics. The robots control a series of zero-labour production cells including fitting insulation panels, fitting plasterboard panels and cutting window openings.
Once the factory is fully operational it will run a two-shift system, five days a week. British Offsite anticipates that 180 people will work on the factory floor and offices over the two shifts.
The launch of ‘Horizon’ represents a step in the British Offsite ‘mission statement’ of making the transition to offsite construction a natural evolution for traditional developers, whilst saving clients time, space and resources on site. The factory’s innovative, hybrid MMC approach means the time between a site’s ground-breaking and first handovers can be reduced by up to 20%. One fully- dressed UniSystem panel can be produced every 15 minutes, and the panels for one entire apartment can be produced every 60 minutes.
Bob Weston, chairman of British Offsite and Weston Group, said: “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, said: “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.”
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