Ireland: A centre of excellence for Modern Methods of Construction in Europe

Article originally published in PBC Today, click to read in full:

Ireland is on the path to becoming a centre of excellence for offsite and other Modern Methods of Construction in Europe, says Paul Tierney, CEO of MMC Ireland

The deep expertise and robust international experience of Irish manufacturers and project teams are positioning the country as a leader in the MMC sector.

As the CEO of MMC Ireland, I believe that our focus on growing a sustainable, buildable pipeline across all sectors is crucial to achieving this goal.

Through collaboration with relevant bodies and the Irish government, MMC Ireland is actively working towards this vision, at both policy level and at project level.

Building capacity and expertise

Manufacturers in Ireland are adept at managing capacity to meet pipeline demand. Through its 80+ strong members, MMC Ireland is helping the Irish government to understand the makeup of the current industry, which is an important first step in helping to shape policies and ensuring state resources are directed to where they will yield the most impact in terms of delivery.

Given the current shortages across housing, health, education and other sectors, it is critical that capital projects are looked at through the lens of offsite and other Modern Methods of Construction for maximum efficiencies across the entire build programme.

This involves leveraging the lessons learned in the UK and globally to address challenges and blockages in delivery, including planning. As a first step, our members are helping to focus the state’s investment in skills training/retraining and in marketing the industry as an attractive career proposition.

By doing so, we aim to ensure that Ireland’s MMC sector is well-equipped to scale and meet the growing demand for innovative construction solutions. Our members have shown a willingness and a remarkable ability to scale in order to meet demand, within MMC Ireland, the priority is to grow that demand and to ensure a sustainable, buildable pipeline.

Government collaboration and momentum

In addition to the deep technical knowledge of the sector, one of the key factors driving Ireland’s emergence as a centre of excellence for MMC is the government’s willingness to listen, to understand and to partner with the industry.

Covid-19, war in Europe and an increasing urgency around decarbonisation presented many challenges and our members continue to rise to these challenges. The momentum right now is palpable, and our members can see the pipeline materialising across sectors such as education, healthcare and residential construction.

This collaborative approach between the government and industry, including procurement reform and a shared approach to innovation, has been essential and has created the right environment for MMC adoption and growth.

Sector-specific capabilities

In Ireland, 2D timber frame is the most commonly used MMC methodology, followed by light gauge steel (LGS) – both 2D panelised and 3D volumetric, ICF and precast concrete. Timber frame is primarily utilised in residential building, while LGS, particularly in 3D volumetric form, is seeing increased adoption across sectors such as healthcare, education and residential construction.

The versatility and efficiency of these MMC methodologies are contributing to their success in the Irish construction landscape. The current operational status of MMC factories, normally operating at no more than a single shift, presents an opportunity for optimisation.

With the accommodation crisis at the forefront, there is a compelling and urgent need to have MMC facilities working multiple shifts to meet the housing demands effectively. Across our membership, we are seeing capacity scale rapidly with manufacturer ambitions that plan for a doubling of output over the next five years.

The widespread use of precast concrete across multiple sectors has enhanced quality control, accelerated construction timelines and improved environmental sustainability. The successful integration of Building Information Modelling (BIM) in MMC processes has further enhanced efficiency and accuracy, aligning with MMC principles of waste reduction and cost efficiency.

What’s next for MMC Ireland

Ireland’s journey towards becoming a centre of excellence for MMC in Europe is driven by a collective effort to build capacity, invest in skills and address industry challenges.

Looking ahead, MMC Ireland is committed to helping grow the market across all sectors. We are continuously working with relevant bodies to ensure that our growth is not just in capacity but also in innovation and sustainability.

The collaboration between MMC Ireland members, the government and industry stakeholders is contributing to sustainable growth and innovation in construction.

A long-term secured pipeline is critical to obtaining production facility efficiency and maximising quality output at the right value. At an industry level, there has been heavy investment in new facilities over the past few years by MMC Ireland manufacturers and this investment is ongoing as they scale in line with growing demand.

Again, the importance of a secured pipeline cannot be overstated. By ensuring a consistent and credible pipeline, MMC factories can operate at optimal levels, meeting the demands of multi-sectoral projects and contributing to the reduction of construction costs.

Co-founded by Declan Wallace of Evolusion Innovation and Arthur O’Brien of C+W O’Brien Architects,  MMC Ireland now has in excess of 80 member companies across Ireland and the UK.

Building on the success of its inaugural National Conference in 2023, MMC Ireland will host a two-day event on 22-23 May in County Kilkenny. This internationally focused event will bring together project owners, policymakers and world-class project teams for a series of technical sessions, project case studies and insights into policies coming down the track for the built environment.

Article originally published in PBC Today, click to read in full: