Mar 06, 2015

Working at Witney – exploring the world of timber systems

By Jason Guy, Materials and Logistics Manager, Stewart Milne Timber Systems.

2014 was a great year for us with orders up 70% across the UK. At our factory in Witney that meant it was all hands on deck as capacity increased to help meet demand. I’ve been with the company since the factory opened in 2003 and it’s been encouraging to see more developers using offsite construction and timber systems when they may previously have dealt only with brick and block.

We hear a lot about the housing shortage and I don’t think people have fully realised how effective the use of timber systems can be in realising projects more quickly while also saving money. And it’s not just housing – our expertise is increasingly being used to deliver hotel projects, student accommodation, as well as projects in the health service. Timber systems can deliver structures up to six storey’s high so it’s a versatile way of working which is becoming far more common in developments in a wide range of sectors.

But the benefits of offsite construction start back at the factory which is where our components are made, helping developers to reduce construction time on sites and the need for an army of contractors. A timber frame construction project in our Witney factory will take just 10 weeks to complete from start to finish rather than 18 weeks from masonry based projects. Our offsite construction methods support this as weather conditions such as snow and rain will not delay build time.

Offsite construction at our Witney factory also means reduced prelim costs. This, along with labour savings, lower machinery costs and reduced waste leads to a quick return on capital outlay for house builders and contractors.

Day-to-day it goes without saying that safety comes first at the factory. We have a great team here and that shows in our output levels. There are many opportunities within the factory and builders are encouraged to try different areas of the job so they can develop their skills and help each other to produce high quality timber frame.

Timber frame has already benefitted the housing industry and can continue to do so at a time when demand is still increasing. Business is brisk at the moment – last year our timber system factories produced 10,000 units for projects throughout the UK.  At Witney, to help meet rising demand, we’re planning to increase shifts from one per day to two in the next few months. With a stable workforce in place we’re looking to add to that, with staff expected to increase from 90 - 120 by the end of the year. With such a diverse client list we understand the pressures that developers and builders face, and work closely with them to streamline the design and manufacturing process, helping to make the process as painless as possible.

If you’d like to know more about the way we do things Stewart Milne Timber Systems is opening up its offsite manufacturing facility in Witney, Oxfordshire on Thursday 16 April 2015 to provide a free RIBA-accredited CPD session for industry professionals. If you’d be interested in finding out how to attend get in touch: /why-us/factory-tour-invite

Homes For Scotland Home Builders Federation National House-Building Council Royal Institute of British Architects Structural Timber Association Timber Research and Development Association Constructionline British Board of Agrement Wood Campus Build Off Site Building Research Establishment WOOD FOR GOOD

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