Software and sustainability: hsbcad's role in Offsite's shift to panelized timber manufacturing

Recognising a shift in market sentiment towards more sustainable and low-carbon building solutions, OFFSITE, an offsite manufacturer based in Kewdale, Western Australia, has shifted its focus. Previously specialising in permanent concrete formwork construction, the company now concentrates on the offsite manufacturing of panelised timber buildings.

Four years ago, OFFSITE made a strategic shift that enabled them to align more closely with both industry trends and environmental objectives. Key to the success of this evolution was identifying software that could seamlessly integrate with both their recently acquired HOMAG Weinmann advanced timber processing machinery and design files supplied by their existing clients.

OFFSITE searched for compatible software to manage their transition from permanent concrete formwork to the design and detailing of prefabricated building elements, such as panelised timber walls and floors. This search led them to hsbcad, a global software solution provider specialising in offsite and timber construction. OFFSITE opted for hsbcad’s suite of software tools, including hsbDesign for AutoCAD, hsbMake, and hsbShare. For OFFSITE, this software served as an effective, integrated solution that connected the entire design and construction process, starting from design for manufacturing and assembly (DfMA).

Sean Rogers, Design Manager at OFFSITE, at work with hsbDesign for AutoCAD.

According to Sean Rogers, Design Manager at OFFSITE, hsbcad plays a pivotal role in OFFSITE’s operations for multiple reasons. First, its adaptability is essential; the software allows for the seamless import of design files from clients in formats like PDF and DWG. OFFSITE also uses these files as a foundational base upon which to build their own customised models or libraries for each client. This feature streamlines the production process, allowing OFFSITE to efficiently adapt to various client needs.

Ready for delivery: hsbcad's customization allows for each client's unique panel requirements.

“It’s the high level of customisation with hsbcad. You can have libraries of different details for different clients and how they want it. When you’re doing a job for Client A, you use one set of details, and when you’re doing a job for Client B, you have a different set of details generated, so you can customise those. Depending on who your client is, how they like the corners or whatever else, hsbcad enables this,” commented Rogers.

Additionally, hsbcad’s ‘digital twin’ functionality allows OFFSITE to preview the full project before actual manufacturing begins, providing another layer of efficiency and accuracy. The software also allows for the modelling of thermal properties, sheeting functions, and even the incorporation of steel beams for more complicated projects, highlighting its versatility.

“It’s crucial to the success of OFFSITE that hsbcad models a complete panelised wall structure, including all the planning. We can spot any issues within the model ahead of time, and it improves efficiency and workflow before it’s manufactured,” said Rogers.

hsbcad's digital twin functionality provides real-time updates

Another significant feature of hsbcad is its real-time functionality. When design adjustments are made, they are immediately reflected on the tablets used by the operators of OFFSITE’s manufacturing machinery. This real-time update also minimises errors and ensures that the manufactured elements precisely match the newly updated designs.

Entire wall panels modelled with hsbcad on display for Michelle Blakeley's "My Home" project

With hsbcad’s ability to model entire wall structures, a recently completed project for Perth architect Michelle Blakeley’s ‘My Home’ project to address homelessness for women aged 55 and over proved invaluable.

It was essential for the project that it achieved near-passive house efficiency, and hsbcad allowed OFFSITE to detail multiple zones of a wall, with different layers, including all the cladding elements, before any manufacturing commenced.

According to Rogers, OFFSITE aims to further establish itself in the prefabricated panelised manufacturing industry, specifically targeting the high-repeat two-to-three-storey residential market, and remains 100% confident that hsbcad is up to the job.

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Michael Dolphin
Built Offsite Publication