DfMA - The need to think differently about the role of the design team.
DfMA is about embedding efficiency throughout a product’s life-cycle, including design; production/manufacturing process; transportation to site and assembly on site.
It is estimated that 70 – 80% of product development and manufacturing cost is determined in the design stage.
This principle also applies in construction and importantly, from an industrialisation perspective, it must be recognised this issue is not just about building or infrastructure design, but also about:
- Designing efficient processes that will apply throughout the manufacturing process
- Transportation to site
- Assembly on site.
Many call this Design for Manufacture and Assembly or DfMA. Add to this the use of standardised designs, modular construction and digital engineering through tools such as BIM and we can see why the construction sector is currently experiencing a revolution in its approach to design.
A tipping point for DfMA
Five years on since the first edition, the DfMA Overlay to the RIBA Plan of Work 2020 comes at a seminal point in the construction industry’s evolution. DfMA is becoming embedded as part of the default, with the UK Government’s presumption in favour of offsite manufacturing enshrined in the Construction Playbook and Value Toolkit, and big commercial players investing in factories and new processes. The sector has greater access to relevant knowledge and technology than ever before, from the worlds of advanced manufacturing and digital technology, to adapt the potential of design for manufacture and assembly (DfMA) and refine modern methods of construction (MMC).
Great outcomes and great architecture
Architects can be seen as the natural custodians of good design and have the potential to help lead in the adoption of DfMA. The case studies presented in the Overlay demonstrate that the value and sustainability benefits brought about through MMC can go hand in hand with great architecture. Successful implementation lies in collaboration at the boundaries between traditional disciplines and in developing hybrid solutions that draw on a wide range of different bodies of knowledge.
“To get the benefits of a DfMA approach you need to embed it into the design process really early on. The most efficient use of offsite technologies is where you talk to manufacturers right at the start and then hardwire DfMA in to the design process - ideally no later than RIBA stage 2.”Tony Hall, Technical Design Director, Levitt Bernstein
Bringing factory thinking to the construction process, to industrialise the…