24 June 2022

What demonstrated savings are possible by adopting P-DfMA?

Platform construction – or, to use its full name, a ‘platform approach to design for manufacture and assembly’ (P-DfMA) is one form of MMC (modern methods of construction). It’s also a different way of thinking about how buildings go together.


It takes its inspiration from the automotive industry and aims to offer building designers high levels of customisation using standardised kits of parts. The idea is that a platform approach can be applied to buildings of any type and improves interoperability  between components while reducing the impact of learning curves .


P-DfMA is becoming a reality, thanks to government investment combining with strategies and initiatives like Construction 2025  and the Construction Playbook . As the reality takes shape, there is widespread excitement about the potential of construction platforms, not least in their ability to help improve productivity while reducing construction time, waste, resource use and carbon emissions.

Building Systems UK steel walling systems and facades prodiles

What sort of savings need to be achieved in construction?

To move away from the current situation – where most buildings are essentially designed as ‘one-offs’ – and adopt P-DfMA more widely, there needs to be a substantial shift in the construction industry’s mindset. Evidence that P-DfMA works in practice as well as in theory can help to start that shift.

Decarbonisation in construction requires a concerted effort across all aspects of manufacturing, design, building operation, and demolition and deconstruction. Construction platforms can contribute to savings across all of these areas, starting with material efficiency.

The UK Green Building Council has identified a potential reduction in carbon intensity of 20% by designing for a more efficient use of materials. The prefabrication and standardisation offered by P-DfMA has the potential to contribute to that significantly, as it enables much better economies of scale than traditional construction methods.

Components are manufactured efficiently, offer greater certainty , and can be assembled rapidly on site, often using automated processes. Buildings are delivered efficiently, safely and cost effectively, with lower carbon intensity. Using construction platforms, buildings can also be adapted to other uses , improving their longevity and reducing the need for new construction. 

When, eventually, a building is no longer needed, the potential for it to be disassembled rather than demolished means that waste to landfill is reduced and components can be reused as part of new projects, reducing the volume of new components that need to be manufactured.

What savings are currently being demonstrated using P-DfMA? 

One of the most significant examples of P-DfMA is the Seismic II project, which concluded in early-2022 with the construction of demonstrator building. The project was delivered by the Seismic consortium, of which Tata Steel was a part.

The Seismic II platform comprises a standard common frame and connector block . The optimised nature of the modular design used less steel overall, which gives an indication of some of the potential material efficiencies  that can be achieved.

For the demonstrator building to really show how construction platforms can transform the delivery of buildings, two different systems  of components were created. Assembly of the building  was carried out using both systems, and took just three-and-a-half weeks from start to finish.

As part of Tata Steel’s system, the roof cassette was designed to ‘drop on’ to the standard module. The modules used to create the first floor were no different to those used at ground floor level, and the roof cassettes arrived fully prefabricated, with waterproofing, solar PV and rooflights completely integrated. Assembly time and work at height were both significantly reduced.

Tata Steel is involved in multiple P-DfMA initiatives – including The Forge  and FASTtruss , alongside the Seismic II platform – which aim to prove the concept of construction platforms and their application across different sectors. Learn more about our activity in modular construction by signing up to our newsletter .






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