Shift towards offsite production prediction

BIG 5: Labour shortages 'could be alleviated by prefabricated construction methods'.

While prefabricated construction methods are commonly used in Europe
While prefabricated construction methods are commonly used in Europe

Greater use of prefabricated solutions could help to address the growing labour shortage in Dubai, according to a local contractor.

Paul Arneill, a managing surveyor for Al Naboodah Laing O'Rourke, has predicted that there will definitely be a greater shift towards off-site construction.

"We see construction going that way in order to be successful, especially with the speed at which things are progressing in Dubai and the resource issues," he told Construction Week at the Big 5.

"Our ambition is that 70% of everything will be prefabricated in the future."

While prefabricated construction methods are commonly used in Europe, the concept is still relatively new to the Middle East where work is traditionally done on site. But with the rising cost of labour, this could be about to change.

Labour has traditionally been plentiful in Dubai, but with the booming economy in India coupled with competitive developments in the neighbouring emirates and GCC countries, attracting and retaining staff is becoming more difficult, resulting in higher labour costs.

"It is not just about the wages, but also the ancillary costs, which can be as much as two or three times the basic salary," said Andy Vytheeswaran, project engineer at Al Naboodah Laing O'Rourke.

"And the cost of diesel is going up; there are also medical costs, and we are trying to provide people with better accommodation."

Bathroom pod supplier Modulor, a division of Al Naboodah Laing O'Rourke, recently supplied pre-built bathroom units to the Royal Tower Hotel at the Atlantis project on Palm Jumeirah.

This was the first large-scale supply of such units made in the region.

Modulor has since been contracted to provide units to the Cube hotel in Dubai Sports City, and is in talks to supply 19,000 pods to Aldar's Al Raha Beach Development in Abu Dhabi.

With the fast pace of construction in Dubai, the use of prefabricated units is a must, according to Arneill.

Use of the bathroom pods over traditional units brings a direct saving of about 3%, according Modulor, but there are a number of other benefits including optimised health and safety, improved quality control and ease of inspections for consultants.

Pods also enable a greater concentration of skilled labour where needed, making staff faster and more efficient, the firm said.

Al Naboodah Laing O'Rourke predicts that other construction components will be pre-fabricated in the future, including pre-casting elements and MEP systems.

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