RPS Ireland Managing Director Gerry Carty will be speaking at the CitA BIM Gathering, titled ‘Delivering Better Outcomes for Construction’, taking place on September 26th at The Galmont Hotel in Galway. Gerry speaks to Irish building about the 2019 Gathering, digital construction, the work of RPS and BIM in the West of Ireland.
Gerry Carty has overall responsibility for RPS activities in Ireland since being appointed MD in 2012. Gerry is responsible for implementing a comprehensive development strategy focused on the achievement of excellence and delivery of high-quality services to clients, using best in practice technology and integrated cross-discipline service delivery.
In a prolific career, Gerry has been responsible for the delivery of a range of PPP projects; motorways, energy, educational, environmental, water, health, national and regional road projects from commencement to completion. Gerry is currently President of the Association of Consulting Engineers of Ireland (ACEI). The RPS Ireland leader has also been involved in the construction industry’s transformation to digital.
Gerry has a broad knowledge of digital construction and while talking about the Gathering says we are on a journey with digital transformation. “While this is ‘The BIM Gathering’, BIM is one part of digital design for RPS. In the 1980s we started using AutoCAD here, then we moved into the 3D space, and now we are in the era of the cloud, open source software and greater interoperability. There is a rapidly developing digital work area. BIM is a core element for designers but the other areas are equally important if not more important over the project lifecycle. We need to demonstrate that BIM provides value to clients. However, convincing clients of the benefits of BIM is a challenge.”
Gerry speaks of the changes he has seen and what must be done to achieve success and what must be communicated clearly to clients. “Generally over the lifecycle of a project, most of the cost is incurred in the operation phase. Historically, companies in the design business did the design work and handed it over to a contractor for it to be built.”
Now, with digital construction, because of collaboration between the project team members when you get to the construction phase, and especially when you get to the operational phase you have a better product delivered to the client/employer. This can lead to savings in the construction and operational phases. But to do this all the parties have to be working coherently and in partnership. Digitisation is bringing the opportunity to do this more efficiently and more effectively.”
RPS began working in BIM 10 years ago and have made major advances in the field with great in-house expertise. “We started meeting with software providers and we talked to companies developing products which we could use. At the time a lot of the products had benefits but there was low compatibility between products and we had hardware and software challenges. RPS undertake large infrastructure projects and a lot of tools, technologies of the time did not ‘talk to each other’. However, we persevered to get our office BIM ready and assembled a BIM team, with Mark Costello leading the team.” RPS then partnered with GMIT to develop a Level 8 programme to deliver the skills needed by the team. This was initially run as a pilot programme and became a major development in Irish AEC education. “Now there are many digital construction courses throughout the country.” This course has won 6 awards over the past two years. Aside from this, RPS has won other major awards for their design innovations.
RPS have selected and developed tools for infrastructure projects in the past decade. The firm won an award for the innovative use of BIM on the €600 million M8/M73/M74 (M8) Motorway Improvements Project, which completes the M8 motorway link between the cities of Glasgow and Edinburgh in Scotland. RPS working with Amey was part of a multi-national consortium (Ferrovial/Lagan/Amey/RPS) collectively responsible for the project design, commissioning and operation on behalf of the Scottish Roads Partnership. It is projects like this that make great Gathering case studies.
BIM Gathering in Galway
Gerry has been to the CitA Gathering in Dublin and was impressed. Originally from Roscommon and having studied and worked in Galway, we ask Gerry what he is most looking forward to at the Gathering in September and he speaks positively of what Galway offers a visitor. “Galway is a fantastic location for conferences and events of this nature. Galway has a great ambiance and atmosphere. Attendees can socialise and discuss topics of interest in a comfortable setting. If people want to go sightseeing they can go to the Aran Islands, Clifden, go walking the mountains of Connemara or the Prom in Salthill. There are fabulous opportunities in the vicinity.” Gerry recommends people coming to the BIM Gathering to take a few extra days and travel around Galway City and County.
RPS in Galway
The RPS Galway office has 130 employees. A number of RPS staff have been involved in the CitA Western BIM Region since its establishment. Mark Costello was the first regional chairman. Gerry says: “Mark is now on the CitA Board and is one of the RPS leaders internationally for digital design.” RPS has been involved in sponsoring events and sharing experiences. This is a rapidly developing area, and people working in the area need to be flexible and prepared to upskill and gain knowledge. He speaks of the benefits of the CitA Western Region and CitA nationwide. “BIM is most effective and efficient when the employers, contractors and operators buy into it, collaborate during design development and the clients see the value it can bring. Supporting events like the CitA regional meetings develops a community of knowledge sharing. One of the benefits of CitA is that it brings people together; it brings together professions that would traditionally have worked in silos. Digital design requires all the professions to work together to deliver savings in time and cost, improved quality and delivery of value to the client.”
Since establishing BIM as a core service, RPS have put in place an in-house training programme for employees. “It takes two years to obtain the Level 8 qualification at GMIT, and we have made it available internally to all technical staff. They are encouraged to participate.” RPS in Ireland has 40 to 50 graduates joining them every year and they are put on the programme if they are interested. RPS continually upskill employees and graduates Gerry says and speaks positively of current graduates. “College graduates in architectural technology and engineering are better trained now than in past generations. Graduates could be involved in any type of project and they must be ready to upskill to help deliver these projects.”
From what Gerry has seen companies are improving their BIM capabilities in the West, although there is a greater level of construction activity in the greater Dublin region. “In terms of digital construction there are a number of consultants and contractors in the West that do national and international work and have impressive capabilities. I think more could be done in the West and elsewhere to educate clients on the benefits and to inform them that working in this way brings significant long term savings.’’
The critical issue for Irish consultants is to be able to demonstrate to clients that they can deliver greater value on an ongoing basis and add value over the lifecycle. “Most RPS clients understand the benefits of working in the 3D environment and that it requires significant investment. If you invest 1% extra at the design stage, you can get 10% to 15% efficiencies (savings) in the operation of the infrastructure. Irish consultants need to get this across to our clients. Many FDI clients and international clients that RPS work with understand the benefits but even then the benefits have to be communicated on an ongoing basis.”
Between 25% to 33% of the company’s work is international. Gerry says RPS and other firms have won work abroad based on their digital capabilities. “A number of consultant firms have made significant strides. Many would be aware of BIM and using it but some clients are not enthusiastic about using it as they don’t want to spend the money earlier in the project cycle to reap the benefits.” Digital construction is now the mainstream and in many cases mandated and increasingly competency must be demonstrated to tender for projects. BIM is the norm internationally he says, naming a number of projects and locations in which they work. “RPS in Ireland are working in Australia, the Netherlands, the US, throughout the UK, and all these are full 3D projects. We have major projects in Texas, the Gold Coast Airport, Sydney and Melbourne. We are working at Gatwick and Heathrow airports.” Noting this information, we look forward to his keynote in September.
Gerry’s message to readers is: “If you come to the BIM Gathering in Galway you will learn a lot, and you will have great opportunities for networking. This will be a fantastic event.”
The CitA BIM Gathering, titled ‘Delivering Better Outcomes for Construction’, takes place on September 26th at The Galmont Hotel in Galway. You can view the full programme now, learn more about the keynote speakers and buy tickets by clicking here and visiting the dedicated website.