How digital tech is tackling construction’s biggest challenges

4 Feb 2022

Sean Dowd, Mercury Engineering. Image: David Cantwell Photography

From sustainability to shorter timelines, Mercury Engineering’s Sean Dowd discusses how the digital construction industry is rising to the challenge.

The growth of technology means a whole new world of construction. From data centres to semiconductor facilities, building these complex engineering projects requires specific skillsets along with cutting-edge technology.

Something that increasingly goes hand in hand with these construction projects is building information modelling (BIM), which is a digital representation of physical and functional characteristics of a particular facility.

One company using BIM to carry out its construction of data centres and other facilities is Mercury Engineering, a European contractor founded in Dublin in 1972. The company operates in a wide range of areas including enterprise data centres, advanced technology, life sciences and facility management.

‘Clients want projects to be completed as quickly as possible, to the highest standard possible’

Sean Dowd, the company’s group BIM manager, told about the work that Mercury Engineering does.

“We utilise the most innovative and cutting-edge digital technologies. This enables more efficient design and construction to support the organisational growth of our clients,” he said.

“We pride ourselves at being at the edge of new technology and were one of the first contractors to implement HP’s new ZCentral 4R solution.”

Mercury Engineering has a partnership with HP, which provides it with tools, resources and support to give it an edge in the digital construction space.

“To best serve clients, a robust training strategy and plan is required along with the best facilities and equipment, and HP Inc has been a strategic partner in providing tools and solutions that help us to promote our core values,” said Dowd.

“Centralising device and resource management through the cloud allows Mercury to upscale on projects instantly while managing resources efficiently. High-powered, full-spec laptops used in the design and render process are now available 24/7 globally, reducing downtime and increasing project efficiency and turnaround.”

To further tap into digital construction, Mercury Engineering created its ‘digital core’ in Maynooth, a centralised hub containing two BIM modelling floors and a VR lab.

“Technology is how we future-proof our business and HP solutions create efficiencies that are fundamental to this,” said Dowd. “Centrally managed resources reduce hardware and scalable solutions have created cost efficiencies, while optimising workflow.”

Challenges in construction

When it comes to building new facilities and refurbishing existing sites, Dowd said one of the biggest challenges is how short the timelines are becoming for projects.

“Clients want projects to be completed as quickly as possible, to the highest standard possible, so that they can start making a return on their investment. This drives significant schedule pressure,” he said.

“With the BIM team placed at the front of each project, it is imperative that we can be mobilised quickly.”

As well as shorter timelines, sustainability is an ongoing challenge that all sectors have to face, and the construction industry is no exception.

However, Dowd said Mercury is currently developing design and construction workflows that allow for environmental impact benefits through the use of project building information models.

“Using the 3D digital construction model, we can calculate improvements on the project’s construction carbon footprint by modifying material quantities, specifications and suppliers (shipping distance) to reduce the carbon footprint and long-term sustainability of projects,” he said.

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Jenny Darmody is the editor of Silicon Republic