Trade in Irish construction products and services to the UK has increased by 68% in the last five years. Recent advances in Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality technologies are well on the way to improving how the industry communicates and collaborates, both internally and externally, and have incredible potential. Similarly, innovative construction designs are being optimised digitally in ways that would take weeks and months if done manually.
Enterprise Ireland has supported the trade of €1.29bn of construction products and services to the UK in 2016 alone. We expect further growth as demand for skills and innovation intensifies. While it is difficult to generalise, we see an upward trend in clients looking for more innovative digital and off-site construction solutions.
Increasingly, clients across the world are explicitly asking for BIM in the design and delivery of new facilities and infrastructure. The UK Government made the use of BIM mandatory for any new capital funded public sector projects last year. Many Irish Construction Services and Engineering companies have gained a foothold in the UK market, allowing them to access BIM frameworks and guidelines for use on BIM projects.
One of the key reasons our client companies are so successful in the UK, often winning contracts for complex high-tech builds, including data centres, hospitals and commercial buildings, is because they are at the forefront of innovation in the sector. According to the Building Information Modelling 2017 report, published in May 2017 by Construction IT Alliance (CiTA) in association with Enterprise Ireland, Ireland has made remarkable progress in recent years in advancing BIM capability. 76% of Irish respondents were confident in their organisation’s BIM skills and knowledge.*
Irish companies have embraced the fact that BIM is more than a tool. Rather, it’s a series of processes that help to speed up the building programme and provide structured, accessible information for clients once a project is completed. We see client companies extending BIM even further by incorporating 4D and 5D modelling, which allows real-time visualisation of a project’s progress and for individual costs to be attached to different, specific elements.
Large multinational client turns to Irish partner John Sisk & Son (Holdings) for ‘digital construction’ advantage
John Sisk & Son (Holdings) Ltd. are front-runners when it comes to applying innovative BIM practices and were recently appointed by Quintain to carry out the construction of 745 build-to-rent apartments on its Canada Court scheme at Wembley. Quintain chose Sisk as its partner due to a “shared focus on providing the most efficient design for the product they were creating as well as embracing BIM.”
In addition, Sisk was accordingly awarded the development of a large data centre campus by a multinational client. Notably, the client designated this as the pilot scheme project of good BIM practice for any future, international data centre projects. It will be used as a benchmark to record the specific benefits and successful practices that lead to overall improved efficiencies in the full life-cycle of the facility – from design, through to construction, and finally operations and handover.
A compelling aspect of this initiative is that the whole project team work together through the use of a Common Data Environment and BIM platform in an on-site collaborative environment (BIM Hub). This collaborative BIM process significantly reduces RFI’s and increases speed and effectiveness when resolving site issues.
By focusing on ‘beginning with the end in mind’, John Sisk & Son ensure they meet the client’s end-user requirement. This approach also means that the information gathered can be used and re-used effectively, not just throughout the project, but also throughout the life of the asset. The dividends of BIM innovation and centralised project information continue to be paid long after the design and construction phases of the project are completed.
How lean will shape the future of UK construction
Lean methods and processes across the supply chain are contributing to a step change in quality, productivity and the health and safety of Ireland’s construction industry. Benefits are accrued through the elimination of wasted time and from fewer delays on site.
Enterprise Ireland is committed to supporting the adoption of lean techniques. Several Irish multinationals are embracing lean principles to win business abroad. Construction companies like Jones Group, Mercury Engineering and Kirby are already exporting lean services abroad – securing more work, reducing costs, and offering better value to clients.
Despite current economic uncertainty, Ireland continues to be a first-point partner for the UK. Trade relationships between the UK and Ireland can be expected to deepen even further over the coming years. Ireland has a competitive advantage as an innovation hub in the construction industry and will continue to provide vital capacity, innovation and capability in the UK, delivering successful projects in the years ahead.
*Source: National BIM Survey 2016