News and Views from Bennetts

Views | 23 November 2022

The future of off-site building methods and heavy lifting requirements

Off-site manufacturing has proved a popular building method in recent years and is increasingly used across a variety of developments. Here we explore the off-site building method and the associated requirements for heavy lifting.


What are off-site building methods?

Off-site building methods refer to pre-assembled construction elements designed and created in a factory, and then taken and installed on the site.

This type of manufacturing can allow high volumes of units to be delivered to a site to be integrated faster and more efficiently.

There are a variety of off-site building methods including wood panels and precast concrete construction, where concrete panels (sometimes referred to as concrete pods) are manufactured in factories for buildings such as large apartment blocks. The panels often have glazing, first phase electrics and other elements already integrated.

Understanding the benefits of precast concrete manufacturing

Reduced project time

Off-site manufacturing can significantly reduce the site programme due to the build being quicker to assemble. It doesn’t rely on multiple suppliers delivering building materials on time, or different trades on site to build different parts of the project. Reduction in time can also result in a cost reduction, if managed correctly.

Safer building environments

With all the building elements pre-prepared, there’s less lifting and moving of multiple materials. This can (but not always) create a safer work environment, with fewer hazards on the site.

Manual handling of the materials is also reduced, which can decrease the risk of accidents happening on site.

Less waste, more environmentally friendly

Assembling the elements for the build in a factory can result in less waste on the site. In addition, in a factory setting more materials can be reused and recycled.

The heavy lifting

Precast concrete requires different heavy lifting solutions. Clearly, the large panels are much heavier than individual materials such as bricks, so a larger tower crane with a bigger lifting capacity is needed. Large capacity cranes are more expensive to hire, however, this is usually outweighed by the cost savings of hiring the crane (or cranes) for less time. Once the crane is on-site and the precast panels are supplied, it is a quicker process to lift the panels into place.

A good example of a precast building project we worked on was the St Martin’s Place development in Birmingham, for Colmore Tang. We provided two Saez SL 450 luffing jib tower cranes which have a 24 tonne max capacity to lift the heavy concrete panels – view the case study and watch the video from the site to find out more.

Creagh Concrete in Belfast produced the pods – find out more here and watch their video showing how it comes together with the role of the tower cranes.

In 2022 we purchased a brand new Saez tower crane, the SL730, which is the largest capacity luffer in its range and can lift an impressive 36 tonnes.

News and views from Bennetts Cranes