We are the software engineering team working at Liverpool based Ideal Modular Homes.
We’re building the operating system that assists with manufacturing Ideal’s sustainable modular homes.
What is Modular Construction?
Unlike traditional building which happens brick-by-brick on a building site, modular construction manufactures homes on a production line—as you would a car—in a specialised factory.
Cambridge University produced a short 10 minute documentary about the sustainable materials we use for building the homes.
Our first project is in Manchester, UK
Set to be the biggest wooden structure in the country, our first project is a set of 156 luxury apartments in central Manchester, right next to the River Irwell.
What technology are we building?
Known to the industry as a Manufacturing Execution System—rolls right off the tongue—we’re building a software service combined with specific hardware that assists with everything from the design, quality management, to the installation of our homes.
It’s called Fetch.
There are a number of things Fetch is responsible for:
- Automating the release of the design fabrication drawings—that outline how to build or assemble parts of the home (yes, think lego instructions)—to the relevant manufacturing stages.
- Guiding the manufacturing teams through what job they should work on next.
- Scaling and improving build quality as production increases.
- Highlighting manufacturing delays and issues as they arise.
- Measuring the performance of the production lines.
- Surfacing-up continuous improvement prompts for the entire company.
Why roll our own?
Modular construction is a relatively new space.
Most of the technology we’ve seen is either geared to towards manufacturing or construction exclusively—we’ve seen nothing that fully assists modular construction from first principles.
Fundamental assumptions in home construction are different when homes are built on a production line.
- Things depend on each other. The wiring for the ceiling must start here and finish there, otherwise the plumbers are blocked from starting their work, then the plumbers block the painters and so on.
- Timing is critical. The production line is moving all the time, so there’s a specific point in time that the wall insulation can be quality checked before the walls are built and you can’t see the insulation anymore.
- Proccesses need to scale. The way design fabrication drawings (that outline how to build or assemble parts of the home) are issued differently compared to a building site. Packs of 25+ fabrication drawings are issued to each manufacturing stage (12 in total), every time the production line moves.
We’re learning lots
It’s been a bumpy ride learning about real time, high-dependency technology for manufacturing.
We’ve changed the way we think about our deployment processes, our user interface designs, our technology stack, the way we use Service Worker and much more.
This is our software engineering blog. Welcome :)
We plan to share updates, new vacancies, lessons learned and write-ups of some of our darkest hours.
It would be great to have you along for the journey.
Drop your email here and we’ll update you when we make the next post.