Reducing labour without using cheap unskilled labour, is fundamental to the SetSupermarket approach to construction. We don’t mind working harder but we need to use the very best people available. Having anything less than the best, can only lead to lower productivity, excessive waste and dangerous working conditions. Good management can get several times the productivity from a single skilled individual than can be had from a gaggle of casual labour.

Automation and mechanisation are used Wherever possible, to CNC cut components and reduced our transport, handling and workshop storage. Tools are exspensive but they can empower skilled people to acomplish better quality work in a smaller space with less material waste overall.

Traditional methods are embraced here, we are not in the business of re-inventing the wheel. We use 2.65mm wire nails, rather than the screws favoured by newcomers to the industry. These nails are faster (especially with our new nail guns) because they do not require countersinking. They are cheaper and less wasteful to make than tempered, machined, high carbon steel screws and are mild steel, hence can be recycled easily when collected. They are also genrally driven by hand but even when nail guns are used, the energy consumed is a fraction of that of a screw gun. Our flats are well made in a traditional manner, making them more exspensive for us to produce, but using less wood, they are lighter and longer lasting than the cheap throw away “quick makeups” one can often find on set. With care, these flats cost much less over time.

Modular systems for set design was an early feature of what we have tried to do. The idea is to provide manageable pieces of set which can be rearranged to the designers taste. The pieces are already clothed and painted, with skirting boards already mitre cut. There are doors windows and columns, which pop together in an hour or so to give you a nice room set. The reuse of cloth and the reduced build labour makes these set very cheap indeed, not to mention the fact we reuse the cloth, moldings, bracings and paint, makes it very ecologically sound indeed.

We like to offer as much design support as possible without stepping on the designers toes. We can redraw designs to reduce material waste, or to have pieces cnc cut or laser cut and can knock up 3D renderings to help visualise the finished product. A great deal can be saved by integrating construction management as much as possible into the design process as early on as possible, again without imposing on the designers creativity.

Michael Mulligan