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Totally Modular Secures UKRI Funding to Unlock MMC Delivery

Totally Modular has created a consortium of academic, technical, industry and end user stakeholders with the of intention of producing a common steel framing platform that can be utilised without the need to start from first engineering principles each and every time designs change alongside the demonstration that a satellite manufacturing facility can be fully operational within a shortened time frame whilst negating the need for a multi-million pound capex investment.

With Totally Modular being the project lead, the key contributing partners are Citizen Housing, TDS, Spacious Place, Wolverhampton University and Jali. Thanks must also go to Totally Modulars grant writing partner Ixion Innovation, who created the application with them and coordinated the whole process.

The UK faces an unprecedented housing shortage; 3.9 million new homes must be built just to meet current demand. Despite this, just half the homes needed are being built and the shortfall continues to increase.

The UK faces an unprecedented housing shortage; 3.9 million new homes must be built just to meet current demand. Despite this, just half the homes needed are being built and the shortfall continues to increase.

Modern methods of construction, such as off-site manufacturing of houses in factories, promise lower-cost, higher-quality homes constructed in days instead of months. This is particularly beneficial to suppliers of social housing (e.g. housing associations, local authorities), who are facing ever greater challenges in delivering quality affordable homes.

However, housing associations often need small volumes of customised properties to suit infill and brownfield sites, which does not match with the needs of factory owners to sell high volumes of near-identical properties. Concentrating manufacturing in a handful of large, centralized factories also increases transportation and impacts the local workforce.

 STELLAR offers social housing developers and owners the tools and business models they desperately need to provide affordable homes across the UK in line with demand. Our model centralises complex and high-cost design, frame manufacturing and warranty tools within a central virtual ‘hub’, supporting SME-operated ‘spoke’ factories near to the point of need.

To achieve this, we will combine and enhance the UK’s best available tools and knowledge, delivering:

1) 3D ‘digital twin’ factory planning tool to ensure fit to need and support capital investment

2) Parametric Modelling tool for SMEs, enabling them to optimise house design and ringfence production slots

3) A UK first, open-access ‘Should-Cost’ Model driven by parametric design to generate accurate build costs

4) A Modular Build Design App, directly informing production, enabling HAs to specify homes that meet their needs.

5) Demonstration home(s) – Homes designed and produced through the hub-and-spoke model and STELLAR toolkit will be installed in client specified configurations. They will come complete with a suite of unobtrusive miniature IoT enabled environmental and usage sensors to enable energy and operational performance data to be monitored and analysed.

A period of occupation will then be completed prior to future-casting to confirm environmental performance, whole-life cost and longevity, and provide a strong return on investment.

Brian Maunder, Founder of Totally Modular has commented on the success of the award saying: 

“The committed and highly innovative STELLAR consortium includes modular steel frame specialists, home builders and highly respected academics. We form a complete value chain that will last beyond this project. The team has attracted positive attention from organisations including National Housing Associations and the House of Lords, who recently sought Totally Modular’s input to upcoming national strategies.

This funding will definitely positively transform the MMC sector specifically for social and affordable housing. However, it also brings significant social benefits and drives forward our message for ‘Local Homes for Local People, providing Local Jobs that supports the Local Economy.”

Simon Hart, Head of Construction for Innovate UK, also commented on the success: 

“The Transforming Construction Challenge is transforming the places where we live, work and learn using digital manufacturing techniques. In a sector worth over £100 billion a year in the UK, around 6% of GDP. It is one of the most vital industries in the country. The challenge will support the industry in adopting technologies and help buildings to be constructed 50% faster, 33% cheaper and with half the lifetime carbon emissions.

It is fantastic to see the successful investment in innovation that Totally Modular have made towards these goals. My team and I would like to congratulate Totally Modular on their recent grant awards and we look forward to working with them over the next two years to maximise the impact of the projects.”

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