Q&A With MFS Director Norman Hinckes

We managed to corner one of our Directors here at MFS, Norman Hinckes, earlier this month on his rare coffee break to ask him, how the Tonbridge project is going, why he thinks Silka is a great building choice, and what’s next instore for MFS . . .

So Norman, how is the Tonbridge Extra Care Housing Scheme project progressing?

Well, to be fair it is still very early days but for sure we can see that it is going to play a massive part in our industry when we get up to full speed and we are able to fulfil its full potential.

As with the introduction of any new system, there is always a learning curve to go through.

With the Silka System it is more of a ‘cultural change’ that we are having to introduce. The Silka system is a highly engineered, refined system that has been developed over some period of time.

Our industry is not used to working in such a ‘systemized’ manner to such fine levels of tolerance, and it will take us time to refine and develop our systems and procedures to get the very best out of it.
We are using the Silka Elements on the project, what is it that makes it so different to other Thin Joint options?

The size and composition of the elements, it is like nothing else you would have ever seen. I like to describe it as the ‘adult version’ of Thin Bed systems that we promote. The nice thing is that nothing is lost. It has all the same qualities, so the same skills we have with thin joint can also be used with Silka. It is just a far larger, heavier version and needs to be installed using a mini crane, which adds a new dimension!

As we all know one of the biggest issues with building is the cost. Being an alternative method to traditional options does this make Silka a more expensive choice?

That’s always a very important question and like most things it doesn’t come with a straight forward answer. But far from it being more expensive, if anything it is the opposite. But it is a question of ‘horses for courses’ and really does depend on the right ‘design’ in the right ‘application’. If we compare the Tonbridge project for instance.

It comes in around the same in terms of cost of installation. However, the cost savings really come with the speed in which we can build with Silka, actually halving the time of a traditional build programme. So in terms of the overall build it can substantially reduce build times and can be a really cost effective solution. Another benefit is that Silka allows us to use a number of more efficient building options in conjunction with it, but as an industry we aren’t quite ready for those yet.

Its sounds like the perfect build options. Are there any problems using it?

No, in fact there are very few issues with using the Silka Elements. It’s why we are promoting the use of it. We firmly believe, it is a complete game changer. We can build up to 12 storeys high, not that I’d want to though.

The biggest issue is the ‘understanding’ and changing the ‘mind set’. It starts in the office, on the drawing board, getting all of the information together before we start, and integrating the whole of supply chain with us. Thereafter, it is about organisation and planning.

Otherwise, the only issue of any note that we’ve had to design out has been the disproportionate collapse. Something that’s relevant from 4 stories up.

We have engaged our own Structural Engineer to help us with that, which enables us to provide a range of solutions that can be simply adopted into a project to ensure that we can maintain the integrity of the system and achieve all of the same benefits.

How quickly can we build with it?

Essentially, we can turn a typical storey around in approximately 10-15 working days depending on the scale of the project. Beyond that it’s just a question of adjusting the resource levels to sequence and balance the programme.

What are the plans for MFS in the future?

We would like to see more developers consider using alternative build methods for their projects. Silka is probably one of the best options out there, essentially it is still masonry, provides an excellent finish and extremely quick turnaround times; which ultimately leads to greater efficiency and cost savings throughout the projects build cycle.

If you would like to find out more about the team here at MFS and how we can make your build project more efficient, or if you just want to know more about Silka Elements, speak to a member of our team today.