BIM People – Sean O’Dwyer BIM Manager at JJ Rhatigan & Company


Sean O’Dwyer has worked in the Irish Construction Industry for over 17 years, with experience in Civil and Structural Engineering.

He studied Civil Engineering at Limerick Institute of Technology, and graduated in 1999, and has since worked for a variety of multidiscipline firms from design to manufacturing to construction, including Punch Consulting Engineers, MPA Engineers, Dairymaster, BCD Engineering, BAM Contractors before joining JJ Rhatigan & Company.

Sean has a keen interest in BIM, Lean Construction and implementation of new technologies/ workflows to enhance the company and the industry itself. Here Sean talks to about his experience with BIM.

Please tell us how you got interested in BIM?

In 2005, I was part of a team tasked with reviewing and deciding on a viable 3D design and modelling tool for the engineering consultancy company I worked in. After evaluating a number of software options, we decided upon Revit. Since then I have excelled in the use of BIM and 3D Modelling, which I am currently using across all projects in JJ Rhatigan & Company (JJR).

Can you tell us about your work with JJ Rhatigan & Company, and your day-to-day duties?

At JJR, I am responsible for structuring and developing the BIM Department, which includes managing our team of BIM Coordinators to align our external design teams ensuring the delivery of BIM is consistent by supporting project standards coordination. I am also responsible for developing company procedures and BIM Standards throughout the company. I also chair presentations to senior members of JJR on the lean approach to construction where exercises are shown and feedback implemented onto all projects.

Can you tell us about the use of BIM on the Galway Regional and Divisional Garda Headquarters project?

We are successfully using BIM processes and standards on the Galway Garda Headquarters. We have developed, managed and coordinated the BIM Model using BIM software. We are regularly exploring add-ins for Revit such as Dynamo to improve and enhance the model outputs on this project through the creation of the Room Data Sheets and Facilities management tools. This speeds up the process and ensures that there are no errors. JJR are using BIM to coordinate, generate and discuss the room layouts with the Office of Public Works at regular site meetings. On Site BIM is being utilised for setting out of precise openings around the building ensuring there are no delays or additional costs.

From your experience, what is the level of interest in BIM among clients and subcontractors?

From my experience, there are numerous high-end subcontractors who are champions in BIM delivery and well versed in the processes involved. New subcontractors are getting very proactive and are interested in BIM to avoid being left behind. Clients are aware of BIM and are starting to demand it on their projects as they are beginning to see the added benefits and rewards to them and their management prior to and after building completion. Clients are beginning to demand BIM models to be present at meetings to give them and other stakeholders a better understanding of the build and these such issues are rectified a lot faster.

Are you satisfied with the quality of BIM education and research in Ireland?

BIM education in Ireland is advancing at a remarkable rate. Graduates are highly confident and highly educated. Therefore, on completing their courses their transition into any discipline is seamless. We have noted from recent graduates that have joined JJR that they can offer, from their own research, enhancements that are benefitting many of our live projects. I am very keen to listen to existing and new staff members on BIM as their opinions and experience will enhance and improve JJR’s delivery of projects.

Will BIM affect the duties and responsibilities of the professions?

BIM will affect and alter professions roles and responsibilities across every sector. Having all information on a building/element at the click of a button can aid everyone from contractor all the way to facilities manager. Professionals are seeing the added value of BIM and it is great to see them adapting it and not being fearful of it. At present professions are finding the “change” a bit difficult but with the guidance and communication between myself and JJR’s experienced staff they will find this transition a lot less difficult. They will become well versed in BIM and it will be of benefit to all professions on a project.

How do you see technology changing the construction site environment in the next decade?

Technology is advancing at such a pace that it’s unimaginable what the industry would be like in 5 years, no matter 10 years. I see that offices will become paperless and highly digital based between VR meeting boards etc. Consultancies will have more insight into the building of projects rather than the buildings design. This will instigate higher detailed buildings. Clients will have a better commercial tool in their hands in that future tenants/stakeholders can visualise and agree on their final layouts.

Apart from technology, are you impressed by any other innovations in construction?

I am impressed with the way companies who are limited in their purchasing power are tailoring their own workflows to suit the rapidly growing market. I see a lot of decision making taking place well before projects hit site. This speeds up the construction programme and delays etc. are avoided.

How do you see the Irish construction industry changing in the next decade?

I see that since BIM Level 2 was mandated in the UK, Ireland will follow suit. The Irish Government is constantly being pressed to mandate BIM and it will eventually happen. And one benefit to having all the BIM Gatherings and CitA workshops enables a lot of companies who are either involved or not on BIM projects grasp the change and make Ireland one of the leading BIM delivering countries in Europe.

What’s on the horizon for JJ Rhatigan & Company and BIM projects?

With the 14 Primary Care Centres PPP Programme achieving finance we’ve a busy schedule ahead. Along with these 14 projects and another 5 BIM Level 2 requirements, we plan to use and improve BIM across all sites, exploring new methods and software capabilities, trialling advanced equipment and continuing to upskill the team. I am driven to promote JJR to be the No.1 BIM delivery contractors in Ireland and the UK.

Follow JJ Rhatigan & Company on Twitter: @JJRhatigan 

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