Responding to an Emerging Market
A Portakabin case study

Page 1: Introduction

'The industry as a whole is under-achieving.' This was the verdict of the Construction Task Force, led by Sir John Egan, in July 1998. The Task Force had investigated the state of the British construction industry. The Egan Report, as it came to be called, confirmed that the industry did have some centres of excellence, but that overall there were many problems to resolve. These...
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Page 2: Changes in the business enviornment

The business environment in which firms operate lies outside themselves. It is their external environment, which is always changing. Some changes are so dramatic that everybody notices them, but others may creep up on an industry over the years and be largely ignored for too long. Changes take many forms and create new challenges. For an industry as a whole, it may well be that: Customers...
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Page 3: The construction industry

The construction industry has to meet the needs of a whole range of clients. These include: public and privately owned businesses and organisations in all sectors of British industry schools, hospitals, universities etc national and local governments eg roads, railways, tunnels, dams, stadiums and offices private citizens, and particularly home owners. All these clients want the job...
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Page 4: The need for innovation

Customers' requirements could not be met by existing products. There was a need for new ideas and better techniques. This was because: Companies were looking for innovative buildings to provide more adaptable office space with reduced lead times. Schools, hospitals, universities etc needed better high quality, flexible buildings quickly. Governments wanted key projects delivered quickly and...
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Page 5: Portakabin

Portakabin belongs to that select group of companies which have made such a mark that in popular speech its brand name is sometimes used (wrongly) for all the products of a particular industry. Such fame is a mixed blessing - there are some modular buildings and portable constructions on the market which Portakabin does not manufacture. 'Portakabin' is a registered trade mark and may be used...
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Page 6: Modular building expertise

In modular construction, buildings are manufactured and fitted-out in a controlled factory environment. In the meantime, the foundations are being prepared on-site. The customer's modules are then taken to the site and craned into position and linked together. Architectural features (such as brick cladding to the outside of the building, a pitched roof, glazing, lifts or a stair tower) are added...
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Page 7: Innovative developments

Housing In mainland Europe, housing sites contain many innovative forms of building. They use a high-degree of pre-fabrication and pre-assembly of factory-built parts which are then transported to the designated building site.Similarly, standardisation of components makes it possible to adapt modules to the specific needs of customers. This way of constructing buildings means that less work is...
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Page 8: Conclusion

The UK construction industry is changingits practices. Portakabin is helping to lead that change. Its projects are customer led, and offer high quality solutions in much less time and at a lower cost than traditional building methods require. This approach is in line with the rethinking that the Egan report demanded. Companies that have acted on the Egan Report's recommendations are becoming...
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Teaching resources for this case study

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    These are the teaching resources associated with the case study: Responding to an Emerging Market

    This case study looks at how the Portakabin operations exhibit the kind of good practice that the Construction Task Force wants to see the whole industry adopt. In particular, it demonstrates how Portakabin is 'ahead of the game' by being customer-led and responsive to the changing business environment.

    All teacher downloads and teaching aids relating to this Portakabin case study are free to download.

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