Improving Time and Cost Efficiencies with Precast Concrete Columns

Every project is usually defined by the all-important parameters of budget and time.

Between multiple stakeholders and the significant investment that high-rise construction projects require, the construction industry has remained resolutely loyal to established practices, favouring on-site construction, manual labour, and conventional building methods and materials.

While these are undoubtedly effective, the increasing demands for speed, sustainability, and cost-effectiveness mean that the industry is starting to see a gradual shift toward new thinking and technologies that can streamline traditional methods. Nowhere is this more evident than within the precast concrete sector. For large-scale commercial construction projects, project managers are, more and more, turning to the use of precast concrete columns as a strategic solution for reducing floor-to-floor cycle times and project costs.

Reinforced precast columns are structural components used in various construction projects. They are manufactured off-site and then transported to a construction site for installation. Reinforced with steel bars or mesh to enhance their structural strength and load-bearing capacity, they are essential to the structural framework in many commercial buildings and large infrastructure projects.

Effective time management is the foundation of any successful construction project and is becoming increasingly crucial for companies competing in the commercial construction market. Poor time management means costly overruns, missed deadlines, reduced profits, and damage to the company’s reputation.

For traditional construction projects, timescales would usually be based on about one floor per week for in-situ poured columns, walls, and slabs. However, because precast concrete columns are manufactured off-site within a controlled facility, many traditional challenges, such as curing times, labour availability, and delays due to weather conditions, are removed – significantly improving timelines and targets. Once delivered, the concrete columns can be installed very quickly, usually within a half- to one-day timeframe with just one crane lift per concrete column.

Not only can they be installed faster, opting for precast also negates the need for craning in formwork, waiting for poured concrete columns to cure, and striking of formwork which, with traditional in-situ poured concrete columns, can mean losing up to a day to complete. With precast columns, you can move on to the construction of the falsework on the next day, or in some cases, the same day if your column installation is safely completed in that area. They are also an ideal pairing for other precast components such as wall panels and hollowcore flooring.

While exact savings can only be determined for each specific project, utilising precast columns can, on average, save a whole day from weekly projected floor-to-floor cycle times, with double-height columns offering a saving of up to two days from their weekly cycle times. This is a significant timesaving over the entire project and can provide preliminary cost savings for exiting the project earlier.

Precast columns have, in the past, been side-lined for traditional methods due to initial costs, but precast offers many financial efficiencies across the project’s lifecycle. Not only do precast columns allow for significantly reduced floor-to-floor cycle times and tighter project timescales, but they also reduce the labour requirements on-site, minimise material waste, limit vehicles and deliveries required on-site, and reduce the cost and time of crane requirements.

Additionally, precast columns improve on-site safety and sustainability. According to a survey by the ECA of Businesses in the engineering services industry, offsite construction is far safer, faster, greener, and cheaper than traditional methods.

Milbank Concrete proudly maintains its status as the UK’s leading manufacturer of precast columns for over 75 years. Our in-house, full-service offering allows columns to be completely customised to size, shape, and finish to meet specific project specifications. We also offer a range of compatible products to streamline construction projects. From design to manufacturing, delivery, and installation, all aspects of the process are handled by our highly skilled team, ensuring quality and consistency.

We are also committed to being the most sustainable precast concrete manufacturer in the UK and are on track to achieve our net zero target by 2030. With dedicated resources allocated to the ongoing adoption of sustainable practices, we aim to continue to reduce not only our own carbon footprint, but to also encourage the industry to continue to pursue and embrace sustainability within their own practices.

If you’re keen to find out what precast concrete columns can do for your project timelines, let us provide a free quote. Speak with one of our highly specialist team members at [email protected] or give us a call at 01787 223931.