Specialist Contracting Executive, Construction Industry Federation
Effective implementation of digitalisation requires a greater degree of collaboration, which is an environment that needs to be fostered through the contractual framework.
On 4th July, Ministers Donohoe and Smith announced the timeline for the Building Information Management (BIM) adoption on Public Works Contracts, which will take place over a four-year period.
Digitalisation projects emerging
Digitalisation has been formally under discussion within the CIF since 2016, and much has been done through collaboration with the Government’s Construction Sector Group and other industry bodies. We have seen sector-specific services put in place including Build Digital, which will offer support to the industry; Construct Innovate, which is a construction technology centre; and the commencement of plans for a Demonstration Park for Modern Method of Construction, which will focus on off-site manufacturing, particularly in terms of meeting the demands of the Government’s Housing for All policy.
Sustainability requirements are adding an even greater level of complexity to the digital landscape.
What digitalisation looks like for construction
The CIF membership consists of companies ranging from large companies operating on an international scale to small, family-run businesses; each is on its own journey in terms of digital maturity. There are contractors who, through their involvement with Foreign Direct Investment companies, have realised the inherent benefits of digitalisation for many years. There are also SMEs that are digitally advanced, with their size proving to be a strength due to their agility to respond to market requirements. A primary concern is ensuring that, overall, SMEs and the supply chain are not left behind and that they are adequately supported and resourced.
Sustainability and quality requirements
Effective implementation of digitalisation requires a greater degree of collaboration, which is an environment that needs to be fostered through the contractual framework. On the public works side, CIF looks forward to continued improvements to the Capital Works Management Framework.
Sustainability requirements are adding an even greater level of complexity to the digital landscape with a requirement for BIM technology to incorporate carbon counting and whole life cycle costs. This ultimately requires a change in tendering processes to focus on quality rather than the lowest price. Implementing and requesting these requirements is no easy feat for contracting authorities, which now more than ever stand to benefit from increased collaboration with industry to produce the infrastructure assets outlined in Ireland’s ambitious National Development Plan. Effective digitalisation requires a sophisticated client who understands, at the very outset, what they are trying to achieve. While much has been done, there is still more to be achieved.