Business / Companies

Chinese firm finds success building modern prefab rooms for UK

By Cecily Liu (China Daily) Updated: 2015-02-02 08:26

Firm finds success building modern prefab rooms that are shipped from China to produce hotels in the UK, often for upscale companies

Chinese modular construction techniques are transforming the global construction industry with their environmentally friendly and cost-effective advantages, and CIMC Modular Building Systems Ltd is leading this wave in the United Kingdom.

CIMC MBS is a subsidiary of China International Marine Containers, a Shenzhen-headquartered company founded in 1980. It initially started as a manufacturer of shipping containers, but gradually, expanded into building ships, tank storage facilities and oil rigs, and even financing projects.

The company already has worked on more than 10 projects in the UK, mainly building standard modular units for hotel rooms at its China factory, and then shipping them to construction sites.

Clients include InterContinental Hotels Group, Rezidor Hotel Group, Accor and Hilton. Its first project was the Holiday Inn Express hotel at Gatwick Airport, completed in 2009.

The company says that CIMC MBS, founded in 2004, is the largest provider of modular buildings and modular building systems in the world.

The area that CIMC MBS focuses on is called volumetric modular construction, which means the company ships a box of a certain size to its client and in the box there is a finished room. The rooms are then stacked together to form the final building.

Michael Crane, design manager of CIMC MBS, says modular construction provides about 25 to 30 percent cost savings over conventional construction methods through capital cost savings, time and on-site cost savings.

The capital cost savings come from lower labor and materials costs in China.

Modular construction is especially competitive for buildings around five to seven stories high, or even higher, because the unit costs for the modules are the same, but in conventional construction methods, cost increases with height as the thickness of the steel and concrete frames needs to grow to hold the weight, Crane says.

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