Digital and Innovation

Digital and Innovation

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LORRAINE MCMORROW: Thanks Melanie for the introduction and thanks to Gina and the team from Invest NI for inviting me today, to discuss McAvoy's and the recent delivery of one of our schools, Merstham Park School. So, my name is Lorraine McMorrow, I'm the head of digital within the McAvoy Group, and I've been working for them for the past five years. Previously I was an architect in design practice, so I have both experience on the design side and the construction and I'm very aware of the, kind of, challenges and positive solutions we can bring to the sector.

McAvoy's are one of the UK's leading off-site construction specialists. We've been delivering quality projects for over 50 years. We constantly strive to innovate on our projects and apply a range of digital tools and digital processes to support our projects and our teams. Our predominant market is the education,

healthcare and commercial sectors, with most of our work being delivered in mainland UK. McAvoy's head office is based here in Northern Ireland. In Lisburn we have a purpose built off-site factory that can deliver up to 1,500 modules per year, or about 45,000 square metres of space. We have regional offices in Dublin, London and Oxford and we're currently looking to, to open up new offices in new regions. We

have a growing workforce of about 250 staff, 170 of them are based in our Lisburn office and we're constantly growing that as well. We're accredited to key ISO standards and this helps us drive our quality from the Lisburn office. There are two sides to our business, we have the modular rental and sales side of the business. Which delivers a number of, kind of, off the shelf standardised products for rapid delivery for our clients and then we have the permanent off-site division, which ranges from projects from £100,000 up to £35 million projects. These projects are delivered using external design consultants based on a platform approach of standardised, repeatable components. That's some imagery from some of our recent projects, most of them are, are education, but I think it shows a really good selection of our projects and it maybe changes the perception of what off-site construction is.

So, the project I want to discuss and share some insights today is Merstham Park School in Surrey, which we delivered for the Department of Education within 66 weeks and handed over successfully last year. The school is a purpose designed two and three story secondary school providing 900 pupils with high quality classrooms, play space, a dance studio and an all weather sports pitch. The biggest challenge for us was mid design, the client, the DFE, were keen to explore the application of their ten point pathfinder plan for reducing carbon. Due to the

progressed design, existing stakeholder engagement, including the planning authorities, it was agreed to focus on operational carbon only. And we defined a four point project specific plan to deliver this. The project aimed to minimise energy usage by implementing the be lean, be clean, be green hierarchy. Which focuses on reducing the demand for energy at source through passive measures before considering efficient systems and renewable technology. There was a further workshop with key project stakeholders which led to

this four point plan, and these are the items we identified for targeting and carbon reduction. So, an upgrade from the outlying specification, from the initial framework to the MMC school specific brief framework. A waste water management system to ensure reduction in water by 25%. Introduction of renewable energy sources to off-site, off set energy use where design allowed. And a biophilic approach to landscape to improve the health and wellbeing of the building use. Some of the strategies proposed to support this four point plan, so the upgrade in specification ensured the school was built to safer and more robust standards over and above the regulatory requirements. A review of the water management led to

specification of dual flush toilets, low flow tops and showers, control valves, linked PIR systems, facilities to retain and store over 1,100 cube of water every year. Which allowed for an approximate saving of £2,750 per year. Some of the results realised from the application of this four point plan and the tangible measurable figures, up to a 50% improvement through fabric first approach, oh sorry, 44% of energy was achieved through on-site renewables, 73% reduction operational energy consumption, 650 square metres of PV panels were applied to the roof, which allowed for a saving of about £13,000 per year for the school. And a 97% reduction in gas, this would've been 100% reduction in gas on-site only for the science department required gas for the Bunsen burners. And that's some of the stats there. A biophilic approach to the landscape was also key to enhancing the student sensory connection with the natural environment. Improving health and wellbeing, overall

increasing levels of relaxation, concentration and social engagement. The planting scheme absorbs about 16% of the annual CO2 emissions from this building, and it provides an enhanced environment for all. So, this project has demonstrated progress towards what we were looking at, the 2030 net zero operational carbon targets as defined in the LETI, London Energy Transformation Initiative design guide, which is what the DFE were using as a benchmark at the time.

We demonstrated a general improvement of new values in up to 86%. We had a space heating demand reduced to 14kw per metre per year and we maximised renewables with approximately 30% of roof area covered in PVs, which generated a 44% saving on energy for the school. And finally, just some imagery from the project. So, on the left hand side we have the virtual model and on the right hand side, we have the actual photographs. Digital technologies were used throughout the project to enable the, kind of, design optioneering and calculate the predicted carbon reductions and then that allowed the school and the DFE a more informed approach as to what was the best approach and strategies to adopt on the project.

I've allowed for questions but I think we're going to take a break out session instead. So, I can answer any questions later on, thank you. MELANIE DAWSON: Really interesting Lorraine, thank you so much, and I suppose some good examples there in terms of productivity through standardisation and we all know the benefits of off-site construction. I think what's really interesting about Merstham as well, is that not only have they maximised the standardisation part of it, but its also very bespoke. So, it doesn't look like its

a series of modules, it's a-, it's a beautiful school. And again, it has won a number of awards and lots of accolade over the last year. So, again, really interested about the, the biophilic approach on that. Leanne, correct me if I'm wrong, but I think that your wall is hydrophilic, is that right, out there? So, we do have a green wall, out on show in the exhibition space. So again, during the

break out do have a look at that, but similar to what Lorraine is suggesting, it's there to help with improve your credentials and again, your, your green deliverables on any project. And I suppose one of the slogans that I think we can all take away and apply to our projects, be lean, be clean, be green and I think if we take that approach to all of our projects going forward, we'll be taking steps in the right direction. Next up on the stage then, we have Chris. Chris is from head of infrastructure at Innovate UK. Chris I think was like the rest of the room, got stuck in a bit of traffic there towards the end, so I'm glad to see that he's here and I'd like to welcome Chris up onto the stage please? CHRIS BAGLEY: Thank you very much, good morning ladies and gents. Yes, it was a

bit of a problem with traffic, compounded with traffic getting to an airport. The aircraft took off only half an hour late, so we're here, we're all in one piece. As you see, Chris Bagley, I'm head of clean energy and infrastructure at Innovate UK KTN, Knowledge Transfer Network in old money. We're all part of the Innovate UK system. One thing I will say and probably say a number of times as I go through

this, we don't have money. Innovate UK is the innovation agency, they're the guys with the money, they put CR&D stuff together and they, they fund things. We as Innovate UK, UK KTN, we're the knowledge transfer and the innovation network. So, we're the ones that join people up and we like to join up the unusual suspects. So, the more unusual, the better. But it's bringing people together such that they

can actually deliver projects using and working with folk they didn't know about really. So, that's about us. It's all about, as I say, joining folks up, such that they can deliver projects. People they've never thought about, getting that ah moment in a room. When you go, 'Oh, you do those, we could do with one of those.' And it's to get innovation out there for the benefit of UK PLC if you like. It's to get stuff going out there, doing real world stuff. So, that's what we do, we do that with a network of about 80,000 individual organisations, 280 individual innovators. We're linked with all of the

universities, so we've got a good network of folk that we can deal with. What I'd like to do is have a quick trot through some slides, looking at some of the themes, the priorities, the ideas, the talking points in UK construction. Now, I'd love to be able to say I could also talk you through upcoming programmes, support mechanisms and such like. We don't get much view of that. However, as we go through this, it's not unreasonable to consider that as these are talking points, there may be things that crop up in the future that could be funded around this. So, I do also apologise, I'm presenting these slides on behalf of a colleague that couldn't make it today, but then we'll go through. What we'll be looking at are a number of different points there. Against the context of-, and you all know this,

construction, that's HS2 Euston site there. Someone that was in construction five years ago, 50 years ago, maybe 500 years ago, if you take out the big yellow things there, they'll see lots of mud, they'll see stuff all over the place, they'll see large, grey structures that are being put up. So, very traditional industry, but making inroads into new areas. And that doesn't come without its challenges. One of the first challenges is carbon, or low carbon. There's nothing new

about low carbon materials, they've been around for ages. Wood, we've built things out of wood, mud, wool for insulation, but then we moved to new materials because the performance was perceived to be better, and in a lot of cases obviously were. But the move now back to low carbon materials raises a number of questions. Go back to the performance, is the new low carbon cementitious material that we're making, does it have the performance we need? So, there's a lot of questions going on around performance of low carbon materials, how will they work, how you can put them into, into, into deployment alongside traditional materials. Once they're in

deployment, once you've built them into something, what's the longevity of it? So, it, it links into the performance side of things. You don't want to put something into a big structure that's going to fall apart within a couple of years. Buildings don't do that, that's not what we want. And where do you get these things from, sourcing and the cost of it. The sourcing is an interesting thing, as new materials come together, new materials are, are, are developed. What's the provenance of them,

where do these things come from? So, they're all questions that need to be addressed. And then the codes, it's great, we want to understand how to cement works, we understand how steel beams work, but if you're using a new material, a composite structure for example, how does that work and how is it compliant with the new codes? There's a lot of work that needs to be done on new code standards. And the ways in which the new materials are deployed. And then is it actually low carbon material, isn't it? Where do you draw the boundary on what low carbon is? The ideal thing is to look through the whole life carbon, from sourcing, building in and through life of the structure. But again, how do you look at what that low carbon actually means. One of the things that we are doing at KTN is we have, most

of the people have special interest groups, for some reason we have innovation networks, but we've got an innovation network that's looking at circularity of materials and circular economy. I'll be able to provide these slides afterwards with links to the various groups that I'll talk about as I go along, but that's something that you might find if you go to the circular economy innovation network, some work that's going on, building materials and materials in the broad that could fit into the low carbon agenda. Having the materials, what do you do about actually building the stuff? There's that drive to reduce the carbon in the opex if you like, in the building of what we're doing here. And looking at different site power and fuels. There's a number of options that you've got here, electric side of things. Electric power,

great, nice, quiet, low emissions, but an EV car driving around, you've got a reasonable base load in what you're doing, but the power density in batteries and then charging them up is somewhat problematic. So, you might have short delivery time on site. And then charging them on site, a remote site, may also be a problem. Bio based fuels, they're great, they're basically a drop in replacement to red diesel, red diesel is now no longer available, so what do we do to replace that? You can put bio based fuels in but can you get the bio based fuels and then do you get stuck in the food or fuel discussion? BEIS as was, did the red fuel, red fuel, red diesel replacements competition, that's gone through the process. I don't know what's come out of that. I know there's a lot of enthusiasm

for another round of that, it hasn't been announced and we don't know what's going to happen, but you could understand why there might be interest in doing another round of red diesel replacement. If you've got bio based fuels, okay, they can drop in and you've got internal combustion engine, it's, it's a straight replacement. You could also go to hydrogen, there's a great hydrogen infrastructure developing. Here in Northern Ireland there's leading the way I think in, in a lot of hydrogen vehicles, the buses around Belfast, this stuff that could work. You could have

hybrid systems. I think there's no clear winner at the moment, and that's the problem that we've got. So, we'll see lots of different solutions for different deployments, different people. Hybrid solutions, that means in the short term it's going to be a crowded and confusing market, but there are some routes forward and there are initiatives and support mechanisms developing to support each of those and hybrids there of.

MMC, as we've just heard from the format, I'm not going to go through the ins and outs of, of what we could do here, but this is an excellent way of addressing skilled labour shortages on site. If you're building or fabricating components in a factory, you get the repeatability, you get the quality. It's good, repeatable pieces of kit that can go out there, they're not being put together in an adverse environment. So, you've got a very good way of bringing together high

quality, reliable components for your building. Helps with carbon reduction because you don't get the waste and you don't get the rework on site. And it's speed. The installation of a large structure, rather than building something up on site can make the whole installation a lot quicker, but it can cost more. There's logistics issues that

are associated with this. But if the cost is wrapped into the whole life and you benefit from the performance and the quality, you've got to look at where that cost comes. And it's not a universal solution, there may be occasions when manufactured or MMC methods don't work. Combine MMC with, with big structures, with the fit out industry and you've got quite an interesting way of putting things together and going in. Digital revolution and AI, a massive change across industry, across the site as it says there. And potentially a massive change in construction. But construction doesn't move at the speed at which the digital industry does, and quite rightly so. You can't move at those-, you can't get a, a-, tweak a building because you

got a little bit of it wrong as you go along. So, the speed of change needs to be moderated for what we can do in the construction side of things. As we've just heard, digital planning, drafting works very well. Moving that to a next level where you're incorporating AI for example, where you're looking at estimating of how long tasks with take. If you can then roll in ideas from other projects, what's the

weather like, what are the local conditions are like, there's a lot that can be done within the digital and AI side of things. To improve the efficiency of the construction. However, it's-, there's a lot of problems and there's a lot of issues around the control and trust of digital and AI side of things still. What is happening, how safe is it, how robust is it from being hacked, and the security side of things obviously comes into there. Once you have got digital in place, one way or another, a way of using it is site progress management, you could digitally look at what's going on site, take photographs, take scans of what's happening on site. See what's happening, build that into your digital model, compare it with what should be going on and make sure that what is happening is what should be happening, what was in the plan. That's out there now and people are using it as payment triggers for, for

progress. A next level of this might be if you take that system, then use it for compliance, when it's going forward. So, instead of just using it as stage payments and saying you've completed this, take that to the next step, how was that task completed? Was it done to certain codes, it has been to those codes, if things change in the future, you can look back and say, 'Well, will that piece work actually meet the new way of doing things, I don't need to modify anything.' If anything goes wrong with the building, you can go directly back to that point in time and look at the visual evidence on what actually happened. Taking that a next step to connected digital sites, virtual reality meets design, deployment, build, the compliance and through the life side of things. A great idea but it does-, it does depend on hugely efficient and robust connectivity.

I've got two phones on me, both 5G and both when I'm wandering around where I live, on the local train go into black spots, there's nothing you can do. So, it's great having 5G and it's much trumpeted, this is the way that you'll be connected wherever and whenever you want to do things. The digital infrastructure to allow this to work safely and effectively on-site does need some further work. But when you get that through, there's no end to things that you can do on-site, that visualisation, bringing the digital planning into place. It will also bring new skills in. The connectivity we've addressed and the cost, how much does it cost to bring that infrastructure into place. There's a lot going on at the moment on building up

digital infrastructure, we've got-, one of the innovation networks is Immerse UK. It's worth having a look at that, you can look in and see what's going on, and also there's a programme called Bridge AI, some of you may have heard of. It was launched yesterday, and that's looking at taking different sectors, construction is one of them and seeing what AI can do in those sectors. So, look at Bridge AI and Immerse UK, and you can find more some info there.

If you've got that connectivity, then a great thing to look at is autonomous plant. England Highways Agency, they're leading on doing some autonomous connected, connected autonomous plants. There's some levelling plant that's going around, it's working extremely well. It's efficient, they've had a reduction in on-site incidents, keeping the people-, keep people away from machines, it works. And it's something that's working really well indeed. Not only was it working

on-site and actually delivering on-site activity, but linking through to the logistics chain, it then updates people what's happening and the just in time logistics work very well with it. So, that autonomous plant has benefits and impact beyond the site on which it is working. And then it's great to do building lots of new stuff, but why not just transform what we have? For the housing side, most of the housing stock that's going to be around in 2050 is here already. So, there's a lot that could be done with that. Improving the heating, improving insulation, improving the envelope, making it work as a better house. The technologies are out there and many of you guys in this room will have those technologies. The difficulty is almost all regulatory and social. People don't want to leave their home for an amount of time to have it

upgraded, or they don't want to have people upgrading their homes whilst they're in there. If you can find a way of getting around that, then there's a massive, massive market to be won out of this. There's a lot of work that's going on within what was BEIS, DESNZ (mw 23.10) now, on looking at refurb, but when that will actually come out is, is another question. But do keep an eye on that. Taking that to the next step, on the commercial side, things that people are doing, look at refurb and reuse, commercial, industrial buildings. This is one in Birmingham today, BBC Midlands, it's the old Typhoo tea factory. It's

totally been refitted, lots of digital work going in there. The refit starts this year and they should have people in there by 2026. So, that's that reuse, the best way to save is not doing anything new you could argue. So, there's a lot of things

to do there, I've rattled through that very quickly and it's very high level, but those are the themes and the topics that we are hearing people are talking about. So, happy to try answer so many questions on that afterwards, thank you. MELANIE DAWSON: Another really interesting presentation there from Chris. If I could

just invite Lorraine to come back up and join Chris here as well. So, Chris touched on quite a few things I suppose that should resonate with us. And again, one of the key things being the low carbon materials and again, we have some exhibitors in next door who can show you more about those. Chris also mentioned just the innovation networks and indeed the circular economy. And again, that's

what we need to be doing, is tapping into those other support groups as it were, and finding out what's going on in the wider picture. Chris also touched just on the MMC and fit out and again, I know we have quite a few fit out contractors in the room as well. So, again, those linkages between the off-site construction place and what we can do to support smarter fit out going forward, is definitely an innovative idea to improve productivity that we should all be looking at as well.

I thought it was interesting when Chris touched on the digital and the AI piece as well, and I know a couple of the organisations that I'm working with are heavily focused on that AI piece at the moment. And indeed with the pressures that we have at the moment on the rising cost of materials. Some of those companies are using AI now to try and help them predict where those prices are going to go next, and indeed stockpile where required, or place their orders earlier. So, they can have those materials at a lower price. So again, they're using the data and the

analytics piece really to try and predict market trends and it's a really interesting way to look at that as well. On the autonomous plant one, I had a, a boot camp a few weeks ago and some of you would've been there. So, we did have an autonomous digger at that particular event. So again, good to know that we

already have that type of technology here in Northern Ireland and it's available for people to tap into as well. So, thank you for your presentation Chris and for touching on so many different things. So, I'd like to open it up to the audience please. So, if you have any questions for Lorraine or Chris, if you want to put your hand up, we have a microphone. We've two microphones in fact. If you'd like to put

your hands up then we'll get the microphone down and you can ask your question. AUDIENCE MEMBER: Hi guys, I suppose Chris, I'll come to you first, just I have a question around-, I suppose just it's all to the digital solutions and particularly the autonomous site as well. I was just wondering how joined up is the approach across the industry, are you seeing a lot of collaboration to actually make this work, or is it still quite fragmented and lots of different things are at lots of different stages? CHRIS BAGLEY: It's-, from the construction side, it's, it, it remains a bit fragmented to be honest. But it's moving in the right direction. The, the Highways Agency in England, they do an

awful lot of work to try and promote that through the autonomous plant side of things, because you can't have just the autonomous plant wandering around doing what it wants to without the control in there. So, that's helping things move along. DCMS have, was-, what was DCMS, have been trying to put through a lot more work on the 5G side of things, and reach out to industries that go, 'Well, we're not telecoms, why would we be interested?' They're trying to orientate things more to the end user side of things. And I think there's a lot of work that, that's going in the right direction for that. We've got a programme called I3P, the Infrastructure

Industry Innovation Partnership. And there's work that's going on trying to join up the industry, so that they can get the best out of-, out of the digital platforms. But it's fracturing but moving in the right direction. So, it's, it could be-, could be a lot worse. AUDIENCE MEMBER: This one is for Lorraine, it's Pádraig Meehan from Outform Consulting here. We work with a number of, kind of, the, the client side infrastructure providers across, across the island. And I suppose from your

perspective, going from contractor landscape and working with consultants, is there anything that I suppose those infrastructure-, I suppose the funders of those infrastructure in your clients could be doing differently to I suppose, promote the, kind of, the off-site construction and also these lower carbon alternatives at the moment? LORRAINE MCMORROW: Yes, we find we're still having to go out to the market and educate people, both clients, suppliers and the end users of what is off-site construction. And hopefully some of the imagery you've seen today has really brought everybody's knowledge based on people still think as an off-site construction, these, kind of, sad, grey, portacabins. But really we're delivering fabulous projects, and so are some of our competitors. So, I think education is a big piece, I think procurement frameworks and strategies is also another large piece that we're trying to, kind of, support and develop as well with the clients, early doors because off-site construction, I suppose, it works best, when we do engage really early with the client, and sometimes we engage with the client and we say off-site isn't the right solution, or it's a mix. A lot of our schools the, kind of, sports halls, the atriums, the dance studios, they would be traditional construction and then we have our modular boxes around. So, we're not predominately focused on off-site if it's not the right solution.

We will deliver that, but, yes, I think those are the two key issues we still see in the market. CHRIS BAGLEY: I'd answer that as well that what we have seen, as well as the end client, a lot of the consultants that are helping those clients, and doing the design, I think they need an equal amount of education as well, because they do revert to the tried and tested and 'we know what we're doing here, so-, I think-, I'd echo that. There's, there's a lot of education needed across the board on what exactly MMC can provide. LORRAINE MCMORROW: That's true. We find as well that clients are under a lot of

pressure about capital expenditure where they're not looking at the whole life cycle. A client might just be purely focused on their spend, and they're under pressure and they have targets to meet. Whereas if they were looking at the whole operational life-cycle of the building, a, kind of, more holistic approach it might lead to a more off-site MMC approach. AUDIENCE MEMBER: For both Lorraine and Chris, either/or-, what is driving decarbonisation within construction? Is the G, or the UK GHG protocol? CHRIS BAGLEY: That, that's certainly one of the drivers for it, but I think across the industry we're seeing more and more people recognising that this is actually a good thing. If you can drive the carbon out of the structures, out of what it is

that you do in the way you deliver construction, that's got to be a good thing. There's a, a recognition that this doesn't come without an initial cost, but if you've got a cleaner, leaner market and a cleaner, leaner way of doing things, it's perceived to be that that has got to be the way that will bring benefits for all sorts of different reasons, but, as you allude to, a lot of this won't happen. You know, the carrot's there, but you do need the stick and you do need the regulatory side of it too, to really push that through. LORRAINE MCMORROW: Yes, I think that we would echo that. There's obviously a drive

because we're feeling the pressure from the regulation and the clients pushing on that side, but I think, genuinely, we want to strive to do better, to deliver better projects, for the environment and for the community, and we're also finding a bit of a turn. There's a real recruitment drive within McAvoy's at the minute, and we're actually finding candidates coming in, asking us and interrogating us as to what is our environmental and social credentials. So, we've definitely noticed a real change and if that's the kind of calibre of candidates coming in, you know, they're only going to drive that even further. So, I think it's a, kind of, two

prong approach. AUDIENCE MEMBER: Hi, there. Question-, well, probably for both of you, but Lorraine maybe, you could give us a little bit insight, particularly on why the, the, the, the choice was made to go for operational net zero, as opposed to a, kind of, holistic net zero approach with that big educational build that you were talking about? LORRAINE MCMORROW: Yes, so, on this specific project, we were talking about Mersham Park School. It was nearly completely designed. We had already engaged with the planning, and the DfE, the client, were just very enthusiastic. They had defined this ten point plan, which was part of a separate framework. Mersham Park School had been appointed in

2019, so we were already quite far on in the design proposals and even statutory approvals. So, to go back on that school, really, would have felt the pain, and their programme would have been pushed out, and they were desperate for their facility which had already been delayed. So, I think it was just seen as a better approach to ensure that we all met our targets and delivery of the programme. If we could just design with the operational reduction. CHRIS BAGLEY: I think you probably see, as well, on, on, on a lot of people that are specifying, you know, 'I, I need a new building to do X, Y and Z-, because that's the building they need, they can get their heads around the operational side of it, rather than everything that leads in. So, again, there's that extra piece of education to if you can also take into account the front end loading, of, of, of decarbonising, there's, there's additional benefit there, but-, as the end user you see the op ex bit, I guess.

AUDIENCE MEMBER: Hi, David Clarke, (inaudible 33.52). Fantastic to see the project that can be delivered through MMC. Just following on from the last question, then, everything was, sort of, focused more on the operational side, so, post completion, operational stage at the minute, have you any real-life data to give you metrics against the design targets versus the actual in-use? And are there any digital solutions being used for that? LORRAINE MCMORROW: Yes. So, yes, we're still working on that. We only handed the

project over-, I think it was late last year. So, we're still in that twelve month phase, but the data and analytics that are coming back are better than we expected, and it's the only digital tools, kind of, that's being used is a digital BMS system, but the client is looking to actually further that, so that they can gain better insights and, kind of, employ a, kind of, proactive maintenance regime for the project, because they're seeing the benefits already. So, there's still some teething problems that we're resolving, but generally the analytics coming back is better than we expected, so it's good.

AUDIENCE MEMBER: Hi. John McKenna. We supply app based gate control access solutions, so we're right in the middle of this digitalisation and, and, and drive for ESG. Just a question for both of you, and maybe even yourself Melanie, within companies, who do you find that is responsible for and had this discussion this morning already, is responsible for ESG and digitalisation? Is it one person that tends to head it up, or is it joint responsibility and, therefore, hard to pinpoint who's really responsible? MELANIE DAWSON: I, I think, if, if you ask a lot of people think think it's the IT within an organisation and that is not the right answer. I'm seeing lots of IT people now and they're actually putting, sort of, on their LinkedIn profile 'I am not the person to ask about'-, so they're actually putting in brackets about it-, so it's not that person. Again, if you can

tap into the likes of the, you know, the head of digital of somebody like that within the organisations from the construction side, those are the people that you need to be speaking to, because you're talking the same language and they understand what your product is already. From my perspective as well, and, again, I know we have some plant organisations here, in the audience as well, but those involved with procurement on behalf of plant organisations. So, those involved with the procurement of the project. Again, when I'm seeing in a lot of the tenders that are coming in are requirements, are ESG requirements being written into the bids. So, again, they're being written in the early days, in

advance of the net zero carbon targets, but clients want to be ahead. So, I would say, from a client perspective, it's those involved in procurement and the putting out of the tenders, and I'd say from the contractor's side, the best people to speak to are the likes of the digital people. Stay away from IT, because you'll not get a warm reception, but if you can find the digital people in the organisation they'll know what your'e talking about and they should appreciate why your solution is an added value solution and that it's not just a gate solution. That it actually-, it will help them meet other targets that will have

been passed on to them through contracts, as well. But, interested to hear what Lorraine and Chris have to say. LORRAINE MCMORROW: Yes, I suppose within our organisation, our our ESG is managed-, it is managed by one person, but under that person that we have a committee, including myself, but it's, kind of, one or two people from every department, because it does affect the departments. Then, I'm implementing software and sensors in data analytics to try and pull that data where we can, and then that should help us to predict future trends, make informed decisions, etc. So, we're still quite early doors on that journey. We have our ESG strategy in place probably

about a year, 18 months. It's the data collecting, now, that we're working on. CHRIS BAGLEY: Yes, and we're, we're, we're finding quite a few companies are taking a similar approach or have somebody drawing a team around them of the various interested parties. The difficulty is finding the, the title. You, you, you go to head of digital and they're trying to, 'Well, I do SAP. We do all our internal

processes.' I can't tell you the amount the times, as head of infrastructure, I get people saying, 'I can give you a cloud server.' I'm not interested in them. Bridges, and power stations, that's what I'm interested in. So, nailing down the right person is, is, is difficult. It, it has to be said. Head of ESG, and we've seen quite a bit on the, the development type folks are the ones that are looking at the R&D side of things, because it's seen as something new to adopt.

AUDIENCE MEMBER: Hi, guys. It's Mark Mitchell from Top Glass. My question is probably a bit similar to the, the previous one. It's more of a general question, Lorraine, where we're, we're just starting out on a digital transformation strategy, and, and I'm just interested to hear a little bit about how long McAvoys have been on the journey when-, I, I was excited to hear your title, Head of Digital, and that you're from an architectural background.

You know, because there is this misnomer it's, it's all IT. But, I wonder, could you take a couple of minutes and just tell us about how long McAvoy have been on the journey? Maybe when you became Head of Digital? Who works in your team? How big is the team? And, and how you-, how you kicked the whole thing off. LORRAINE MCMORROW: It's a never-ending journey. So, we started years ago. David Clarke started our digital journey in the McAvoy group and-, it was driven by BIM, but I think we were, kind of, doing BIM before we realised what BIM was, because we'd seen the efficiencies he used in 3D models, co-ordinating, federating them, intelligent data within the models to speak to other departments within the business. So, like we spoke about earlier, the regulation really drove our digital journey, and then once we were onboard with the quite early doors, we'd seen the benefits for ourselves, and probably, quite selfishly, just drove that on.

So, I joined the business in 2018 as a BIM co-ordinator, moved on to BIM manager, and it's only last year I became a head of digital because the company really sees a focus on digital and it's more than just BIM and information management. It's the whole technology software and the connection between all of them. So, I've a very small team, but I suppose my role is really to support the other functions within the business. Other companies either apply or drive their digital that they have a core digital or BIM team and they're the people that do the black magic in a dark room.

Whereas, I suppose, our approach has been to train and educate and develop our core people to do it. We don't want BIM to be seen as just a BIM manager's role. We want our project manager, our procurement manager, our design managers, all to be responsible. We all create information on a project, so we're all responsible for that information, and I think that approach has really driven us, that everyone's responsible, and it makes it easier for us to take the next steps. So, now, we're implementing another piece of software to capture all the data and the analysis. So, we already have an upskilled team. So, making those, kind of, small steps has been a lot easier for us. But, it is. It's constantly changing, never

ending, and you're always looking to the market to see what's the new technology. We just implemented AR technology in the factory last year for design verification. But, I mean, as soon as we have that implemented, there's something else out there that you can see benefits, and I suppose it's just trying to weigh up what really is going to bring value to our process. Then, there's also the frustration that Chris, kind of, alluded to about this connectivity between different processes and technologies. That is a real frustration for us and we've tried to drive a process of open BIM and inter-operability to ensure that we can connect different software, different platform, that we're not reducing our supply chain, who are maybe using a specific piece of software if we're using open file formats, like, IFC, BCF. It doesn't restrict our supply chain, both up and down.

So, yes, there's a lot of good stuff and a lot more to do as well. AUDIENCE MEMBER: Thank you. Eugene Heaney, Green Economy Business Development Manager, Invest NI. Thank you all for your presentations this morning. I would just like to ask-, probably McAvoys, just with regards to the carbon benefits of using modular manufacturing, your methods of construction against the traditional methods, is that something you're measuring at the moment? If so, how do you educated your customers of the benefits therein? LORRAINE MCMORROW: Yes, so, we're actually involved in an Innovate UK project a few years ago, Seismic, and that was exactly what that project was to do, was to develop this standardised platform approach and we actually worked with some of our competitors over in England, Amjac Co who are another off-site construction company in tactile steel, and part of that project really was to define what was the saving to the end user. So, in terms of sustainability, carbon,

programme, and then there's also the health and safety benefits as well. So, we were able to measure on that product, specifically that there was a 33% saving in energy from delivering those projects. So, it is something that we're currently tracking, and we're always looking to strive and improve upon that.

AUDIENCE MEMBER: Sorry, I near missed the boat there. One for you, Melanie, and one for Chris, I think. Yours, Melanie-, I noticed when you-, during you r presentation you had social value under regulation. MELANIE DAWSON: Yes. AUDIENCE MEMBER: Now, I know that in England and Wales, there's certainly a heavy obligation for companies when they're tendering to have a strong social value component to their bids as a result of this social value act. We're not under

that same legislation here, so what is the regulatory control? MELANIE DAWSON: Well, I suppose we're not under it yet is the caveat. So, I think a bit like-, I think I had build in safety bill on there as well, and again we're not under that one yet, but the reason that it was on there is because the majority of people in this room are already exporting to the UK, so those regulations will apply if you're delivering projects in England, Scotland and further afield. So, I suppose that's why I had it on there, but, again, I think it's, it's where companies here manage to punch above their weight. So, we're not waiting on the people in Stormont or those who are driving our regulations here to decide that, yes, it applies here. We're actually just going ahead and doing it anyway. Again, the

organisations who seem to embrace that first seem to be the ones that get the advantages from it, and, again, productivity and innovation gains as a result. So, it was more a forward looking thing, and in the respect that the majority of companies here are already stepping up to the challenges of the regulations that we have in the UK, or, indeed, further afield. So, it was around that.

AUDIENCE MEMBER: Sorry, I thought I'd missed something, there. It's a good job we're not waiting on the guys out in Stormont- MELANIE DAWSON: Definitely not, we'd have a long wait. Yes. AUDIENCE MEMBER: Chris, this one's for you and, really it's, I suppose, it's a-, it's a comment more than a question. Don't demolish. How well is that message being, well-, is it being well delivered? CHRIS BAGLEY: No. It's not being well delivered. I think is probably the, the, the, the honest answer to that. Where it is being delivered it's-, and the education and the, the benefits that can come from that are being properly articulated, it's well received, but I think there does need to be a broader engagement with stakeholders.

Horrible buzzword bingo there, but there does need to be more information put out on, on what can be done. So, it's patchy. As I say, where it is properly put forward it has been well received. I think it will gain ground, because people will start going, 'That looks like an interesting project, what did you do there? I'd like some of that.' So, it's, it's gaining that momentum. AUDIENCE MEMBER: Thank you so much. AUDIENCE MEMBER: Morning. Again, an observation, I suppose, more than a question. I work for the health service executive in the south of Ireland,

formerly of these shores, as the accent probably gives away. So, going back to the points that were made earlier about how do you turn the tank with this, and it feels like it is turning the tank-, it's a bit like the car industry twenty years ago, moving forwards to electrification and so. And, certainly, you know, the organisation I work is a very large health organisation in the south. Capital budget of about €1 billion a year, about 4,500 buildings-, so this is a live agenda for us. And, we're trying to move on the journey that, that, that's been described

today, but both in terms of the retrofit of existing buildings, but moving over time to the, the the MMC approach for new construction as well. What we've found in that is, actually, there's a lack of capacity within the sector to be able to respond to that. We-, in terms of that scale with, with a-, with a-, a, you know-, certainly off-site, but that scale off-site, and I think just to put that out there-, but what we've also found is the ability of the various stages whether it's ourselves as a client, whether it's the design architect, -things, where there's planning in local authorities, whether it's the sector itself-, whether it's actually the people who will use the facilities in due course. There's a lot of stakeholders with some views to be turned around all of this. I think Invest NI in the north, would certainly have a key opportunity with public sector clients, anyway, helping to ensure there's leadership in this space from there, because I imagine if I was a, a modular company like McAvoys or anybody else trying to do that from the outside in, it's probably exceptionally difficult with the public sector, and, and the point that was made around who to go to-, you know, definitely it would be the head of whoever's leading the capital function within an organisation is where I would start, and I wouldn't go anywhere near IT. But, but I think it's a journey that we're

all on here. The quickest way we'll get there is certainly in the public sector, is if, if the client side and health, education and so on are clearly leading in this space, and then I think we might find everything becomes a little but more straight-forward. MELANIE DAWSON: Thanks for your observation and, and, I mean, I couldn't agree with you more. I, I, I personally work with lot of public sector organisations and, again, I would help them with implementation of their digital strategies or their BIM strategies, for example, and also with private sector clients, as well. And, I mean, my key bit of advice to, you know, either public or private sector clients is to have a plan in place. Normally what I will do is I will offer them, you know, twelve things that we can do this year, and of that list of twelve things they may pick three things, but once they start to take a few small steps, what you'll find is quickly that they will grow, grow momentum, but, again, I think having that plan in place-, and, I mean, Lorraine, sort of, touched on it a little bit as well. It's a never ending plan. At the same time you will

always be adding new things to the end of it, and the things that you thought you had done you almost need to go back and revisit again, but having the plan in place is, is the key thing, and being able to follow that through is just so valuable. Richard? AUDIENCE MEMBER: I've a multi-pronged question here, for all three of you. Life cycle analysis. How important is that in the design and decision making process at the front end at the minute? And, if, if it is, or if it isn't, what are the barriers? So, that would be the first question for Melanie and Lorraine. But, then, onto Chris, if there-, if there's a lack of adoption, but there are-, there is benefit to be gained from it, who could we look to as far as leadership? Looking at examples, who's the-, who's the good examples across the UK in using and implementing life-cycle analysis in that design process? MELANIE DAWSON: Good, good question. I mean, I think, for me the, the biggest

barrier that I would face on projects is the fact that the LPEX and the CAPEX budget are two completely separate things and two completely separate people are looking after the capital expenditure and then the cost to maintain that building going forwards. So, there isn't, I suppose, sight of the full life-cycle. People are looking after their respective parts of that. The organisations that I see adopting life-cycle analysis most successfully are the types of organisations that own portfolios of assets and they will continue to own that portfolio for a number of years to come. So, I suppose, probably from my

perspective, you know, one of the clients that I would work with would be Danske Bank, and here in Northern Ireland they have around, I think, 28 different branches in Northern Ireland and they're going through that life-cycle analysis piece at the moment, so they're evaluating their existing estate, and then they're looking for ways to improve the operation of that estate then going forward. Then also, how they dove-tail in new branches or refurbs and things like that, as well. But, they're trying to take that whole life, helicopter view to see how they could spend their budget better, right from CAPEX right through to OPEX. Again, it's having that foresight and being able to manage that. So, I would say, generally

speaking the clients who retain their portfolio of assets-, so, again, it applies to-, universities are a great example as well, where they would normally hold the large portfolio of assets and always are building something new, as well. Having that, I suppose, end to end or somebody responsible for both parts of the budget is normally a key determining factor. I'm not sure what Lorraine and Chris think on that one.

LORRAINE MCMORROW: We need to discuss and review that very early on in the project, but from our experience only, the clients aren't coming to us with those requirements. It's very much-, it feels like they're very siloed in their approach and they have a job to get done. They have a budget they have to meet, and I think that's a real pity for projects, because they're not getting their true value out of the projects. So, yes, I think there's a bit of work to do there on some of the clients we deal with, anyway. I expect private developers probably are better at this.

But, yes, just a bit more to be done. CHRIS BAGLEY: And, and, again, you know, I'd echo those that have-, that have got the assets that they're going to keep-, who to look to-, we're seeing a couple of the health trusts are taking a bit interest in this Hull Health Trust, for example. They're, they're quite interested in, in how through life-cycle analysis could help.

Ministry of Defence, strangely enough, they've got lots of assets. They're looking at things that are going on. Equans (ph 52.43), used to be (mw 52.44) Energy. They are really quite interested, because they've got a diverse portfolio of, of, of assets out there of, of very strange bits and pieces that they're looking after. So, those fleet owners, if

you like, where you can get some interesting modelling done, the energy systems catapult up in Birmingham. They've got a bunch of kit and buildings that they use as their living lab. They've got some outstanding modellers on life-cycle analysis. So, from an academic point of view, if you like, or a modelling point of

view, there's a really good resource there to look to. MELANIE DAWSON: In the middle there-, just-, Yes. AUDIENCE MEMBER: Thank you. This is for Chris, really. A follow up on the, the concept of don't demolish. Are there any studies there we can refer to that would be definitive in that? Or is there are scale by which a building is so far dilapidated that demolishing is best? Not just for the financial end, where you wouldn't be throwing good money after bad, but you would also-, a bit like the life-cycle of a building, that you wouldn't be throwing good carbon after bad, to take on an old building, trying to make a silk purse out of a sow's ear. We've just heard how you,

off-site, delivers with about a third less carbon, third less waste. Is there any studies that would look at where the analysis is of if there is obviously a point where you demolish and rebuild, be it by modern methods of construction? Any studies you can refer to that are either definitive or show the point at which is becomes logical to not demolish or do demolish? CHRIS BAGLEY: The unhelpful but very short answer is I don't know. There certainly should be, and I, I, I put my hands up, honestly, I don't know where those studies are. I'd be astonished if people like Connected Places Catapult, for example, haven't got some work that they've done on that. Nottingham University have done quite a bit in the background that I wouldn't be able to refer to any particular study. It must be

out there. But, good call. I shall-, I shall find out. AUDIENCE MEMBER: Thanks. Just picking up on this point, one project that I'm aware of where this has been a big issues recently is in London, which the flagship Marks and Spencer store in Oxford Street, which they want to redevelop. They wanted

to knock it down completely and there's been a big hoo-hah and planning has been delayed over it, because everyone is up in arms that the building should be reconstructed, reused. One of the excuses they gave was the fact the building was full of asbestos, which I found was hysterical, because either way they've got to take the asbestos out before they knocked it down or refurbed it, so it couldn't be used as an excuse as to why the building had to be knocked down, but it's been a big issue. So, it is coming to the forefront now, definitely, that planners, certainly in England-, there is a requirement-, and now to demonstrate the environmental credentials of what you're doing, and particularly on major projects. So, it is becoming a real issue now, the discussion between knocking down and reconstructing.

CHRIS BAGLEY: And that absence of some definitive reference work I guess, is what makes those discussions go on and become acrimonious in some cases. AUDIENCE MEMBER: Yes, well-, anything involving numbers comes down to the old adage about statistics, doesn't it? You know, lies, damn lies and, you know, all the rest of it. So, you can work the figures, I guess, on any project to suit the argument that you want to make. You know, but the reality is, as was demonstrated with the BBC project, there is the potential to do some fabulous work reconstructing buildings, and we've always done that. It just has to be more of a focus. But, in reality, sometimes, it's not the most efficient thing to do, but I think it's definitely high on the agenda for people, now. It has to be, and if you're a big employer, you

know, with those, big, publicly visible projects, you are very answerable for it these days, before you go swinging, you know, a sledgehammer into a building. MELANIE DAWSON: Okay, so, I'd like to let you know there's tea and coffee next door, and our exhibitors are next door. If we can all come back here for 11:20, then we'll kick off the next session, but if you could all put your hands togetgher please for Lorraine and Chris and I'd like to say a big thank you.

2023-05-29 19:41

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