Don’t let them fool you…Kennedy never wanted just to land a man on the Moon and bring him safely back home: his real challenge to Congress, his real purpose, was to land a man on the Moon before the decade was out. And eight years later NASA did just that: by the skin of their teeth perhaps, with two men, not one, tragedy and setbacks along the way and just five short months to spare, but they still did it. And Kennedy’s 1961 speech to Congress has since become a cornerstone of every Business School syllabus from Wharton to Wolverhampton (yes it does have one, look it up), principally because it sums up the essence of all successful project planning: you’ve got to have a big, clear objective but you also need a bold, clear timeline to achieve it. There’s no point thinking big and bold if your clock has no hands: something Boris might care to pay attention to as he struggles with his own COVID Moonshot challenge.
And in essence, back on the ground, that’s the essential dilemma of modern construction: there’s nothing inherently wrong with building knee-deep in mud, with bricks and girders scattered randomly across a field, and the building will probably come out fine in the end, but its way too slow. And the fact is all those dinosaur developers, lumbering around in the mud with the urgency of teenage sweethearts trying to get off the phone, the clock has simply lost its hands. So does any of that matter? Well, yes it does…it matters a lot because the moon we’re all reaching for now is a lot closer to earth.
In the UK, for example, COVID’s ravages created an urgent demand for new hospitals: eight of them in just ten weeks and mud rooted developers would have taken an average of three years to build one. But all were completed on time (in fact ahead of time in some cases), using modular technologies. Shelter reported in December last year that more than 320,000 people were homeless in the UK, sleeping on streets and sofas: that’s a shocking one in 200 of the population, and the National Housing Federation reported this week that 4 million people are living in overcrowded accommodation in the UK: 90,000 affordable homes need to be built every year for the next decade to meet the resulting need. But at the same time, dinosaur developers have been building new social housing at the lowest rate for decades, only a little over 5,000 a year.
So if ever there was a Moonshot moment, a time to set Kennedy-esque challenges with bold targets and timelines, this is it…we can’t afford the luxury of limitless time any longer, and those dinosaur developers simply aren’t up to the job.
That’s precisely why, according to this years Bradley SmartMarket Report, 90% of Property Developers are now committed to adopting Modular Technologies as part of their project platform, offering radically improved quality and delivery times as well as lower cost and wastage levels. In headline terms, this means on average that a Modular property will be built three times faster than its bricks and mud counterpart and at half the cost. It gives us cause for hope that those big, bold challenges (the challenge of building 90,000 new homes a year) can actually be met.
And as for the remaining 10% of Dinosaur Developers…well, it seems they’ve run out of time
Modulex is setting up the world's largest steel modular buildings factory based in India. It was established by Red Ribbon to harness the full potential of fast-evolving technologies and deliver at pace to meet the evolving needs of the community.
Modulex is setting up the world's largest steel modular buildings factory in India
We’re facing an acute and unprecedented shortage of affordable housing across the globe and, like many of us I expect, I just don’t believe conventional construction technologies are capable of rising to the challenge.
I’m convinced Modular Construction will be important for all our futures: delivering at pace, working off a low-cost platform and incorporating levels of quality conventional methods simply can’t match.