The University of Melbourne will collaborate with Speedpanel Australia on a funded project to research and develop innovative prefabricated building systems. The study will be funded by a $3,000,000 grant from the Australian Government Cooperative Research Centre ‘CRC’ Projects (CRC-P).

CRC-P's aim is to improve the competitiveness, productivity and sustainability of Australian industries by fostering high quality research to solve industry-identified problems. This is done through industry-led and outcome-focused collaborative research partnerships between industry and research organisations.

Associate Professor Tuan Ngo from the Department of Infrastructure Engineering will be the lead researcher in the iBuildCRC project that aims to unlock the potential growth of Australia’s prefabricated building industry by creating a co-operative knowledge exchange between Speedpanel Australia, Speedpanel International and the University.

Associate Professor Ngo explained that the iBuildCRC project will develop an innovative building system using advanced manufacturing techniques for faster and cheaper construction. He elaborated that the new panelised system will be a significant advancement on traditional building products because it will be lightweight, easy to construct with, reusable and recyclable, and have better load resistance. The new system will also have a much lower carbon footprint.

Professor James McCluskey, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) said the University of Melbourne was proud to work closely with industry to lead the delivery of innovation and excellence through the CRC-P. He observed that the project could secure a competitive advantage for Australian industry, leading to local employment growth and increased exports of prefabricated products and services.

Speedpanel Australia Managing Director Mr David Visser said that funding from the CRC programme will enable the establishment of a world-class collaborative research platform with the University of Melbourne. Observing that prefabricated construction was ideal for affordable inner city developments, he said the new technology will help close the gap with reduced construction costs and increased fire protection qualities. Ultimately, the research will lead to more efficient, sustainable construction in Australia and greater export opportunities.