Continually reviewing operations and processes with a view to achieving improvement has become embedded within Mercury Engineering’s company ethos. The employment of lean principles and the utilisation of BIM have resulted in improvements when it comes to financial returns and employee satisfaction. “We implemented BIM in 2011 and there were a couple of reasons for taking up the technology. One was that tenders documents began to stipulate the clients’ requirement for utilising the process. Once we started using it we very quickly recognised the productivity gains we could achieve using BIM,” says Ciaran McCreary, BIM Manager at Mercury. “A major plus to the firm was the ability to develop BIM models engineering in our prefabrication package philosophy. BIM gives us the ability to fabricate components of the building off-site and ship them to site for install. It also gives us superior visibility over material procurement and logistics and in particular where wastage was occurring, we have achieved this by integration with our ERP systems. In relation to sequencing and programming problems, we could now pre-empt these in an animated visual manor whereas prior to using BIM we were reliant on spreadsheet type data. The data rich nature of what we were modelling was extremely beneficial, establishing linkages to Mercury’s existing systems and knitting project data together.”
All Mercury projects, at home and across Europe, have a BIM mandate. “We have just completed the BIM model development of a processing plant in Holland using in-house resources to carry out detailed 3D point cloud scans then 3D BIM model development and full fabrication deliverables here in Ireland. We produced the fabrication deliverables in Mercury Poland and then shipped to Holland for install by the Irish Mercury team.” Depending on project requirements, BIM crews can be located in Europe to execute the BIM element of the project directly on site. “We have a core BIM group of 28 located in Ireland, with further BIM teams in Europe and the UK.”
Ciaran has worked with Mercury for the past 14 years. “My own background is in process pipe and design. I would have experienced and seen the development of BIM within the sector, through seeing 3D modelling technology used for process plants design make its way into other sectors of the construction industry. Costs for these systems were high and it’s important to mention that the toolset now available for BIM is much more affordable. In the past you would only have considered utilising BIM for very large-scale process plant type projects due to cost constraints. Now, it’s much more achievable and affordable on smaller scale projects. If you take advantage of suites of products, they now have subscription and lease options available. These options allow firms to use BIM without having to fork out tens of thousands of Euro to buy the software outright.”
Changing mindsets and educating people about the benefits of embracing BIM is part of the process says Ciaran. “The upskilling of trades who would generally be of a traditional nature can be time consuming. There’s a learning curve for them to get up to speed but once a crew is over that hurdle, it very quickly becomes the norm. We have examples of projects we worked on where BIM wasn’t actually mandated by the client. The other participants within the project were working on a 2D basis so we took his 2D design and built a ghost skeleton frame to represent his element, validating it by means of 3D point cloud scanning so we could identify potential interference. By modelling and validating their content upfront, we eliminated any potential problems and delivered a ‘right first time’ installation package”.
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