Meet the industry leaders driving MMC adoption in Ireland
2022 saw the launch of MMC Ireland, an industry collective established to represent companies involved in the planning, design, procurement or delivery of offsite and other modern methods of construction in Ireland. Construction in Ireland, and indeed globally, is in transition. Innovation and collaboration will be key to building a more effective and sustainable sector. MMC Ireland as an industry representative body has the ability to collaborate with all key stakeholders and governmental bodies, facilitating the exchange of technical and project learnings.
The Irish Government has strongly committed to enabling a more efficient and sustainable approach to building design, construction and operation. Under the ambitious National Development Plan and the National Planning Framework, offsite and other modern methods of construction have a vital role to play. This is particularly important for the post-pandemic recovery of our built environment, economy and communities. More than three years in the making, MMC Ireland is a collaboration of industry talent and experience, working in partnership to ensure successful industry delivery of these national ambitions. But the industry needs a roadmap from the Government, showing how existing procurement processes can be aligned with the ongoing housing needs of the nation. Offsite and other modern methods of construction have a huge role to play in this, and not just as an emergency response.
As the single largest buyer of construction, the State has a massive task ahead in terms of aligning its procurement processes with the increasing demand for housing, healthcare and educational buildings, and with the ever-increasing capabilities of the offsite and MMC sector in Ireland. The industry is rising to the challenge and needs to be aided by the State through a regulatory framework that supports on the ground delivery. While this has started to happen as part of the State’s COVID response and as a part of its response to providing quality accommodation to people displaced by the ongoing war in Ukrainian, offsite and other modern methods of construction have much to offer beyond an emergency response. They are the way forward for efficient, effective delivery of the built environment.
MMC Ireland is focused on the recognised seven categories of MMC, namely: volumetric modular, structural panellised, offsite components, additive manufacture, non-structural assemblies and subassemblies, offsite building material improvements and onsite process improvement. Together, the almost 40-strong membership is looking at ways to enable a significant increase in housing delivery of all types and tenures, right across the country.
Critically, 54 percent of Ireland-based companies using offsite and other modern methods of construction do not believe the right skills are currently available, according to research carried out by the Construction Professionals Skillnet earlier this year. At MMC Ireland, this has been acknowledged as a challenge facing MMC adoption. The organisation has a number of working groups including an Education/Skills group that is currently identifying critical knowledge and skills gaps across the various disciplines that can be addressed, either through collaborating with existing State and academic facilities, or indeed through delivering industry-focused CPD. As many MMC Ireland members operate in markets other than Ireland, there is a sense that the Irish industry needs to upskill beyond current standards and technologies, and regain the global leadership position that it held two decades ago.
The genesis of this organisation can be traced back to a gathering in 2019 where the chairman of both Tide Construction & Vision Modular Systems, John Fleming, inspired the industry with a vision of ‘Rebuilding Ireland through Modular Construction’. Today, many of Ireland’s best known construction brands are amongst the members of this integral industry body, including C+W O’Brien Architects, Evolusion Innovation, Horizon Offsite. O’Dwyer Steel, Glenveagh, Cairn Homes, Clancy, NorDan Vinduer, Peppard Investments Limited, John Sisk & Son Ltd, Xtratherm, Errigal, Arc Engineering Ltd, Vision-Built, John Paul Construction, CarlowBuild, Actavo, Framespace Solutions, ABM Design and Build Ltd, Procon Modular, LMC Group Ltd, Mac Zero Modular Buildings , Hines Ireland, HLM Architects, Saint-Gobain Ireland, Platt Reilly, CPAC Modular, Rothoblaas srl, PETRUF Consulting Structural Engineers, Steelframe (part of Montane Developments)Visor MMC, Instaspace and Greenspan.
The overarching objectives of the body are to develop and promote Ireland’s MMC sector, nationally and internationally, in order to build knowledge and awareness of the benefits of offsite and other modern methods of construction. This work has already started through the coming together of the sector over the past year.
MMC Ireland members have committed to sharing sectoral knowledge and case studies, to better understand the current obstacles to adoption. The intended outcome of this will be a more developed supply chain, with strengthened supply chain capacity.
Another important facet of the organisation is exploring how best the industry can feed insights to the State to ensure a regulatory environment that addresses common challenges relating to product and system testing, certification and quality. Where possible, MMC Ireland members are actively engaging with governmental and sectoral bodies, workgroups and task forces to share knowledge and project learnings, with a view to assisting with the development of greater efficiencies in procurement policies.
The resourcing of state departments, state agencies and academia to support modern methods of construction and emerging technologies for the built environment has been welcomed by the industry. And in the proud tradition of the three-legged stool, the robust voice of industry will need to be captured and included in any meaningful conversation about the future of construction. It is a voice the organisation is ready to use, together.
The members are already working to gather insights and to identify common challenges or obstacles to MMC adoption. For 2023, the MMC Ireland team will continue to work closely with stakeholders from the public sector, the private sector and from academia to ensure those insights feed into relevant policymaking for the successful growth of offsite and other modern methods of construction in Ireland.
By coming together, MMC industry leaders are already sharing best practices and exploring data-driven ways of benchmarking performance, all with sustainability and the circular economy at the fore.
General membership of MMC Ireland is now open to organisations involved in the design, procurement and delivery of offsite and other MMC in Ireland. Further information available at https://mmcireland.ie.
*Notes: The MMC Ireland Members’ Board is made up of Declan Wallace of Evolusion Innovation, Pat Kirwan of C+W O’Brien Architects , Tony McLoughlin of Glenveagh Properties plc, Eoin Waldron of Castle Modular, Ger Fahey of Horizon Offsite Ltd, Richard Walsh of O’Dwyer Steel and Kevin Loftus of Cairn Homes plc.