MFS announced as Offsite Awards Finalists in Best Use of Concrete Technology Category

Our shortlisted entry with the Masonry Frame Systems i-Form Solution

In 2019 we commenced trademarking our build method as the MFS i-Form solution, our P-DfMA approach to MMC.

Design > Platform choice > Offsite Manufacture > Onsite Assembly.

Manufacturing bespoke component parts offsite, we bring them to site in a sequenced and ‘just in time’ manner, assembling the structure swiftly, with minimal waste or labour requirements.

We are very proud to be recognised and shortlisted in this category, alongside the major players in this field, below.

Overview

We have embraced the offsite manufacturing processes of the Xella Silka element system. This calcium silicate large-format block is formed of sand and lime (instead of cement) and compressed and heated to form a masonry block, more akin to the way the earth naturally creates rock than concrete, strictly speaking.

The Xella elements coupled with prestressed Hollowcore floors, as well as PCC stairs and balconies means we can offer a hybrid offsite construction solution, using concrete technologies at its core.

We are currently working with the NHBC to have the MFS i-Form Solution recognised and listed on their MMC Hub as an Accepted System in respect of MMC. We consider our i-Form solution a Category 2/3, P-DfMA – Platform for Design for Manufacture & Assembly approach to MMC, which is the process by which we process the delivery of the complete structural envelopes.

Today’s construction industry faces the following challenges in delivering the short-fall in housing – and the MFS i-Form Solution delivers on each point:

  • To build more quickly and more effectively
  • To reduce construction time and build costs and improve productivity
  • To address the skills shortage and attract more newcomers
  • To ensure greater certainty of delivery
  • To reduce carbon footprint and build more sustainably

Our MFS i-Form Solution platforms include the following:

The Xella GmbH Silka Element system – an offsite a 20N/mm2 strong, large-format calcium silicate element manufactured and delivered to site as a kit of parts, fixed together using thin joint mortar. This system is fully BIM compliant, has excellent fire resistance and acoustic performance, this element system being ideal for medium to high rise flats, apartments, care homes etc.

Precast concrete components – prestressed Hollowcore floor planks, concrete landings & stairs, cantilevered balconies, thermal breaks and concrete back span slabs, Class 2B Disproportionate Collapse Solution.

Lissmac mini cranes – the installation of the Silka Element system is carried out by lifting and placing the elements by using a 110v version of the Lissmac LMK 400TFE. MFS requested that Lissmac developed and made a 110v version of their crane making it UK compliant.

The benefits of the MFS i-Form Solution are:

  • Significantly overall quicker build times are achieved
  • Substantial productivity improvement
  • Less need for skilled labour and attractive to young people
  • Consistent quality, lower defects, less shrinkage
  • Significantly cheaper and lower CO2 Emissions than RC Frame
  • All the benefits of traditional and greater flexibility than modular

Q1. Describe the reasons behind the specification of offsite technology and adoption of a hybrid approach using concrete technology as the central construction method or key element of the project.

The MFS i-Form solution combines several different aspects of offsite technology. With the use of the Silka Element System, pre-cast concrete floor planks (PCC floor planks) and shared bearing plates there is zero cutting on site which leads on to zero dust and zero waste. The MFS i-Form solution is all designed and manufactured offsite and then delivered to site to be installed. During the design process in the MFS i-form solution we can add in BWIC holes to both the Silka Element System and the PCC floor planks, this means there should be no need for diamond drilling later on in the project to allow access for M&E services. Every aspect of the MFS i-Form solution is manufactured offsite and then delivered to site on an articulated or rigid lorry. Once the product arrives on site it is lifted into position using the sites Tower or Mobile Crane. We install the Silka Element System using our very own Lissmac LMK mini cranes, because of the use of these mini cranes there is zero manual handling and a 200% increase in productivity which increases the speed of build for the whole project. The MFS i-Form solution is fully BIM compliant which allows us to use clash detection to help with the design, manufacture and installation process.

Q2. Explain how your use of hybrid / concrete technology has enhanced building performance, energy efficiency and reduced ongoing maintenance.

The MFS i-Form solution can be seen as an alternative to RC frame and traditional-build construction, through using the solution the time, waste and energy resources required during the construction phase are substantially reduced and this is thanks to several different factors. Where the system is prefabricated, it means there is no cutting on site and therefore zero waste – in comparison to traditional builds, the MFS i-Form solution only requires 4 skips to every 29 required by traditional. This contributes to a cut in running costs thanks to the reduction in number of skips and any wastage that accumulates from offsite prefabrication can also be immediately recycled or re-used. The MFS i-Form solution is fully BIM compliant so allows our design team to use the software’s clash detection capabilities to reduce later defects and adjustments. By using BIM we are able to place BWIC holes into the Silka elements and hollowcore floor planks. Hollowcore concrete floor planks have several benefits in relation to environmental performance, one such being its improved thermal efficiency. Thanks to the planks internal tubular voids, they are a lightweight alternative to floors of equal thicknesses and strength, this reduction in weight results in lower transportation cost and energy usage – less concrete means less embodied carbon. Similarly, the entire Solution involves exact quantities, meaning zero waste and therefore less transport of materials and waste.

Q3. Explain how the use of hybrid and concrete technology and offsite construction supply chain has collaborated to deliver the project on-time, on-budget to meet with the client’s expectations for a cost-effective and speedy project/product delivery.

The MFS i-Form solution, in its entirety is prefabricated allowing us to embrace the precision and accuracy that comes with manufacturing in a controlled environment. Several benefits establish themselves as a result of this – increased accuracy means quicker installation. Because there is no need for cutting on site, only assembly, it means installation time is significantly reduced contributing to a speedy project delivery. A by-product of the prefabrication is the reduction in waste – the MFS i-Form solution generates zero waste. The separation/handling of waste is often a time-consuming and costly process, the mitigation of waste saves on both. The MFS i-Form solution, which provides the structural envelope of a building, is completely structurally sound meaning there is no need to keep up the pace with brickwork/cladding (e.g) and we can achieve weather-tightness sooner as a result – because of this, internal trades are on site working sooner meaning the project can be delivered in a quicker time. Emphasizing our design process means we can encompass M+E routes into our Solution. Ordinarily, service routes would be developed by diamond drilling process etc, however by putting more effort into our design and offsite manufacture, we can prefabricate these routes assuming collaboration along the supply chain with M+E contractors – this contributes to cost-savings and time savings due to the fact that as soon as our walls are erected the service routes are in place.

Q4. Explain your approach to sustainability, lowering and quantifying environmental impact and carbon reduction through the use of sustainable aggregates, waste reduction, transport, installation costs etc.

Within the i-Form solution we use 2 main components that are both manufactured Offsite, namely Xella Silka elements and Milbank Hollowcore floors. These are then purely assembled on site. As both of these are made Offsite, any waste created is kept at the respective factories. Waste from the Silka production is minimal as it will only be the waste cuts of block material. The cuts are all computerised, so off cuts are cut down again, leaving a small amount of waste that is crushed and returned into a future mix. The waste created from the concrete floor plank again is minor, with the planks being made to measure, what waste is crushed and reused at the works. We are also using cement replacements, GGBFS, Ground Granulated Blast Furnace Slag as a replacement to opc (cement), within the concrete plank manufacturing process. As the On-site process is merely an assembly task there is absolutely no waste created on the site, even the pallets and timber bearers used during transport are returned on the delivering lorries. The big gain with our build method (i-Form) is that the installation costs on site are far less that other traditional methods, including Reinforced Concrete as we use significantly less men, who are not skilled and expensive bricklayers. We use our own Silka installers. Less men is sustainable as we use small cranes to lift the blocks into place. One single 214mm thick element is the equivalent to 11 traditional sized blocks. So much more can be achieved by less men.

Q5. Give five key reasons (including aesthetic and architectural impact) why the use of a hybrid approach to concrete technology on your project can be seen as a future exemplar for others to follow.

The first key reason is the speed of build that the MFS i-Form solution brings. The MFS i-Form solution is 90% offsite and is brought to site to then be assembled as a kit of parts, because of this the whole solution is not entirely dependent on skilled trades to deliver the project, whereas other traditional methods would be. The second reason which is linked the speed of build is that the MFS i-Form solution brings a greater certainty of delivery for the whole project. As was said before the MFS i-Form solution is 90% offsite and then brought to site to be assembled, because of this there are very few things affecting the outcome of the project as all elements of the solution are simply lifted into place. The third reason is one the biggest benefits of the MFS i-Form Solution is that there is zero waste created on site. All products that are used on site are all cut offsite and then brought to site to simply be lifted into place. The fact there is zero cutting and zero waste onsite has health and safety benefits, as well as having environmental benefits which all projects should strive for. Another key reason is once again a health and safety benefit. Because all of our product is lifted into place via a tower or mini crane there is zero manual handling. This helps prevent injuries on site and also helps to extend the longevity of an operatives career.

Project Team

Trademarked August 2020 – MFS i-Form Solution™ 

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