Memoranda submitted by Yorkon and John
Examination of Witnesses(Questions 317-319)
WEDNESDAY 30 OCTOBER 2002
317. Can I welcome you to the Committee. Could
I ask you to identify yourselves for the record, please.
(Mr Blanshard) I am Keith Blanshard from Yorkon Limited,
part of the Portakabin Group.
(Mr Sherwood) Mike Sherwood from Yorkon Limited, part
of the Portakabin Group.
(Mr Miles) John Miles from ARUP.
Chairman: Do any of you want to say anything
by way of introduction or are you happy for us to go straight
to questions? Then we will go straight to questions.
318. I have a tall wood(?) department in my
constituency that does off-site manufacturing and off-site fabrication,
but could you share with the Committee what some of the potential
of this sort of approach, outside of temporary homes as well,
has to offer.
(Mr Blanshard) First of all, off-site manufacturing
has an incredible amount of opportunity to actually deliver things
in half the time with the right quality. You actually mentioned
the words "temporary homes" but that is not something
which Yorkon has concentrated on, it has really been looking at
modular construction, using steel frame and actually producing
rooms down the production line in the same way as you produce
cars. So, as far as opportunity is concerned, it is considerable.
It really depends on how much investment the commercial world
is prepared to put into it.
(Mr Miles) I would only add to that from a different
perspective, the opportunity is to fulfill the need, which really
comes about because the industry as it is currently structured
probably does not have the capacity to fulfil the need, so there
is a need to do it in a different way. The bottom line is that
there is lots of opportunity for high quality permanent jobs.
Temporary housing is not particularly high on that agenda.
319. So you are talking about the challenges
in the construction industry of finding the right skills to do
on-site manufacture. What does the off-site fabrication industry
have by way of capacity to build in future years, tens of thousands/hundreds
of thousands of units?
(Mr Miles) As it stands at the moment, it does not
have the capacity to deliver hundreds of thousands. It might stretch
to a capacity of 10,000 or so. What we are looking at really is
the opportunity to develop that industry in order that it can
fulfill up to 100,000 or thereabouts, given that we expect the
build rates in this country over the next 20 years to move upwards
from 150,000 rather than downwards, and perhaps a signification
portion of that volume could be built out of factories quite realistically
to a very high standard.
(Mr Blanshard) We have committed ourselves to a leap
of faith. We have put a new production line down for producing
600 apartments a year. That is very small in relation to what
John Miles is saying but it is a demonstration of the future.
(Mr Sherwood) Up to now, only a certain number of
players out there have been prepared to put their toe in the water,
so to speak, but we certainly believe that it has been proved
to those who have that they have made the right choice and that
they are happy with what they have received, but it is only a
few players who have been prepared to do it so far.