3 min read

How have modern methods of construction helped M&E contractors?

Jake Lyons
Jake Lyons

Technical Sales Manager

Has the adoption of Modern Methods of Construction helped M&E contractors deliver projects on time?

Mechanical and Electrical contractors often juggle multiple projects with tight deadlines. In this article, we explore how manufacturers and suppliers to the M&E industry have adopted DfMA and modern methods of construction. We also discuss, whether or not adopting DfMA can help M&E contractors deliver projects on time.

We provide an overview of:

  • Define the term ‘modern methods of construction’
  • The history of ‘modern methods of construction’
  • What is DfMA?
  • The Origins of DfMA
  • What is BIM?
  • What are the benefits of off-site manufacturing
  • How can the M&E industry benefit from MIDFIX employing DFMA principles?

Modern Methods of Construction

Modern Methods of Construction (MMC) can be defined as a wide term, embracing a range of offsite manufacturing and onsite techniques that provide alternatives, such as modular housing to traditional house building (NHBC Foundation, 2016)

History of modern methods of construction

Modular housing became popular after the Second World War when there was a need to quickly construct buildings, especially residential housing to replace damaged buildings. (Design Buildings, 2016). As time moved on, more efficient and cost-effective methods of construction surfaced, in part, to meet the growing housing demands. At the centre of the modern methods of construction is the concept of Design for Manufacturing Assembly (DfMA).

What is DfMA?

DfMA is defined as: “a common design approach which focuses on the simplicity of manufacture and the efficiency of assembly” (Designing Buildings, 2020) The principles surrounding DFMA have become widely adopted in the construction industry enabling the efficient and safe building of homes and businesses.

What are the principles of DfMA?

DfMA encourages the collaboration between design, engineering and manufacturing to create a lean production method, reducing waste and cost.

The main principles of DfMA are:

  • Reduce the number of components: diminishing assembly and ordering costs.
  • Designed to be assembled easily
  • Standardised components to speed up production
  • Eliminate or reduce required adjustments.

The origins of Design for Manufacturing Assembly (DfMA)

Over the 1970’s and 1980’s Geoffrey Boothroyd, an industrial engineer, and his team researched ways to provide designers with tools to improve efficiencies in the automatic and manual assembly of products in factories. The team created two pieces of software to meet this aim:

  • Design for [Automatic and Manual] Assembly (DFA)
  • Design for Manufacture (DFM)

Both General Motors and Ford claimed to have utilised both, improving production efficiencies across their production lines. Both pieces of software were publicized into a book ‘Product Design for Manufacture and Assembly’ and so the term DfMA was born (Boothroyd, 1983).

For principle contractors their main aim for every project is to:

In order to achieve this aim, suppliers and manufacturers must incorporate modern design and production techniques. One common design approach is BIM.

What is BIM?

According to ISO 19650:2019 BIM can be described as the “use of shared digital representation of a built asset to facilitate design, construction and operation processes to form a reliable basis for decisions”.

MIDFIX utilise BIM to manage multiple streams of information from all of the stakeholders involved within construction project to ensure there is no conflict on-site between different teams.

Another way of reducing the waste of materials and reducing on-site installation time is through off-site manufacturing.

What are the benefits of off-site manufacturing?

Off-site manufacturing reduces project time, labour costs and headcount on site along with mitigating risk and waste. Other benefits include:

  • Health & Safety: pre-assembling frames and supports off-site means that when it is delivered on-site it doesn’t require as much specialist (costly) labour to assemble
  • Efficiency: prefabricated frames supplied to the site are labeled ready for installation, saving time and allowing for projects to be delivered on time.
  • Quality Control: each of our fabrication projects is thoroughly checked before despatch, to ensure consistency.
  • Waste: prefabrication and off-site manufacturing eliminates excess offcuts such as channel and studding, and reduces the amount of on-site packaging.
  • Cost: by increasing efficiency, cutting time, and eliminating excess waste on-site, costs are significantly reduced.
  • Space is used much more efficiently, as designated areas for cutting and assembly on-site are effectively removed.

How can the M&E industry benefit from Modern Methods of construction?

M&E contractors often juggle multiple project deadlines with tight deadlines come across several obstacles stopping them from completing projects on time.

Obstacles include:

  • Lack of on-site support – stock issues – product is either not available, not delivered, or not delivered on-time and in full
  • Installation challenges – on-site installers are not trained to the standard required, which can result in bracket failure on-site
  • Having to subcontract out M&E work to multiple companies, increasing the overall cost and time of a project

Offsite construction and net zero

How can MIDFIX help?

MIDFIX are experts in onsite and offsite supports for the mechanical and electrical industries, delivered through design, engineering, fabrication and industry training. By employing DFMA principles and having a ‘right, first-time’ approach we can help M&E contractors complete projects on time, within budget reducing the risk of any on-site issues.

MIDFIX can reduce the risk of on-site stock issues with over 16,000 product lines available in stock and ready for next day dispatch. We save a considerable amount of time and wastage on-site, simply by having materials supplied that are cut to size.

MIDFIX minimises the chances of missing project deadlines by designing and engineering bracket supports to support cable, pipework & rooftop services, all of which arrive on-site pre-assembled ready for quick assembly.

The MIDFIX Academy is the only specialist training and technical resource to upskill and support installers and supervisors in the M&E sector. The MIDFIX Academy offers supervisor and installer training to ensure anchor installation is BS 8539 compliant.


MIDFIX adopt the principles of DfMA by utilising our in-house prefabrication facility to support our clients through manufacturing off-site to build modules and supports.

Topics: Offsite Construction, MMC, DfMA