As we approach the halfway point of another remarkable year, the sense of progress and change at play within the construction industry feels tangible. Despite the turbulent times we’ve faced as a sector, there have been so many significant steps towards transformation in recent months. Overarching initiatives like the Government’s Build Back Better campaign and the Construction Playbook have heightened the call for the sector to prioritise much broader value outcomes: increased safety, net-zero carbon emissions, improved build quality, social value and so on.

Whilst these ambitions could easily get swallowed up in the rush to return to normal, thankfully there are live industry projects – such as the Platform Design Programme – that are being developed with these commitments at front and centre. But as we face the challenges of building a sustainable recovery in a post-pandemic world, how do we ensure that things like safety, quality assurance and value are part and parcel of every product and project?

Establishing a consistent quality assurance approach for platforms

As part of the Platform Design Programme partner network, it is questions like these that drive forward our progress towards developing robust platform solutions that can be adopted at scale. The key we’ve identified to unlock a consistent quality assurance approach is Construction Quality Planning (CQP); a new process developed by the Hub that has been created to support the development of new construction products for manufacturing-led approaches. It covers the entire product development cycle, from concept design through to product launch.

The Hub’s Platform Design Programme is helping to demonstrate these possibilities by creating platform solutions that can be deployed across multiple projects and sectors. The CQP process is hugely significant to this undertaking. The Hub team have identified 13 sub-assemblies that could form a ‘kit-of-parts’ as part of its work to demonstrate a Platform approach, between which a significant number of interfaces have been identified by the Platform team.

CQP – building in quality to new construction products

Adopting CQP and implementing its key tools will build confidence across all stakeholders, that the product and process design, validation and introduction of each sub-assembly has been fully considered and reviewed, including how it interfaces with other sub-assemblies.

CQP is an adaptation of Advanced Product Quality Planning (APQP), which is employed around the world by the manufacturing sector to effectively ‘build in’ quality when developing new products. Its main aim is to increase product quality by emphasising up-front planning and ensuring that parts and products conform to the fit, form, and function needed by the industry, and uphold the quality standards that construction will require to deliver products and parts through productionised supply chains.

A key benefit of this approach is that it can deliver an industry-wide shift in focus from quality control and defect checking to quality assurance and defect prevention. The target audiences are companies manufacturing offsite construction products, suppliers for those products, and companies using offsite construction products in their projects.

Platform construction systems – the bigger picture

Ambitions of this scale need to be reinforced by an industry-wide cultural shift, meaning it’s crucial for industry to be able to develop advanced manufactured products and place them on the market quickly and safely to meet the growing demand, but in a consistent and quality assured way. Across the broad range of industrial partners on the Platform Design Programme – and future organisations adopting platform solutions – all will need to follow quality control and assurance processes that are consistent and robust.

Within our extensive Platform partner network, we are working to demonstrate applications of CQP through the design, development and delivery of a platform construction system. The lessons learnt and evidence gathered from this undertaking will help to enable widescale adoption of safe and market-ready platform solutions. Embedding quality assurance into manufacturing-led construction approaches is a prime example of how we are building back better through industry collaboration and innovation.

David Sershall is Founder and Director of REconstructing Ltd and a partner in the Hub’s Platform Design Programme.

David established REconstructing Ltd in 2018 as an independent executive consultancy offering advice to businesses in the built environment on how to innovate, transform and grow in a volatile and unpredictable world. He harnesses the power of diverse thinking to guide organisations out of their blind spots to achieve greater outcomes and success by advising on business turnaround, transformation and growth and innovation and the adoption of Modern methods of Construction (MMC).