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Mark Flanagan

Group Managing Director, Kirby Group Engineering

Modularisation could be the only way to ensure top-quality results on today’s major engineering projects – and Irish companies are more than up to the challenge.

The process of change is at the heart of engineering. The recent pace of change in engineering has been breath taking, with rates of innovation off the scale, and for good reason.

Clients and consumers need better products that are more reliable and operate faster than ever. It is an exciting time to be a major player in the international mechanical and electrical contractor sector as we all strive to keep our place at the cutting edge.

Modularisation is key

Experience has shown my team and I that the concept of modularised construction is now crucial to meeting demand when it comes to major engineering projects. There is no way to properly deliver today’s large pharma, life sciences and data centre projects without utilising prefabrication to the fullest extent.

Each time Kirby begins a project, we review the plans to see which elements we can prepare at our offsite prefabrication facilities in the Irish midlands.

The selection of the primary equipment vendors at the earliest possible stage is a key driver to opening up opportunities for modularisation.

The benefits for industry are highly convincing. Modularisation saves time when it comes to on-site construction. It reduces waste and risk, creating a more efficient and safer environment. Products can be manufactured to a higher quality standard and more efficiently in the dedicated factory environment. It allows contractors to balance the need for precision and safety with the rapid timeline that comes with the job. Once delivered, on-site commissioning of equipment is quicker.

The ability to run modularised manufacturing in parallel with on-site construction is another positive feature. This allows for an overlap of scheduled timelines and can offer considerable time savings to a project.

Communication is vital

Centralising this style of manufacturing to our off-site facilities, as we have done at Kirby Group Engineering, brings benefits for contractors and clients. However, to ensure success, communication must be a top priority. Technology plays a vital role in this, ensuring all project data is accessible for each site online and updated in real-time to ensure accuracy and precision.

Pairing modularisation with augmented reality

3D modelling is nothing new to our industry. What I’m really excited about is the potential for next-level augmented reality that works in parallel with modular construction. Maintenance crews can use their AR equipment to see what’s going on behind an interface and address changes before they become a problem. Focusing on a vision of the amazing possibilities ahead of us will ensure that innovation in engineering keeps breaking new ground, on- and off-site.

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