Five minutes with Patrick D O’Callaghan
Patrick D. O’Callaghan, CEO of Off-Site Engineering Solutions, talks about various subjects ranging from his company to prefabrication
Who are your main clients and what services do you provide?
Our clients are architects, engineers and MEP sub-contractors.
For architects and engineers, we provide:
Early stage consulting expertise to ensure the final design and layout gives the client the option to use prefabrication. We are very well-versed in this field. We know where the industry is going and we know the vital tweaks necessary to configure a project so as to harness the cost, time and productivity benefits of all forms of prefabrication. Our team is most effective when engaged early in the project so as to incorporate design for manufacture and assembly into the original design. Prefabrication will never drive the design process, but it most certainly must be taken into account so as to benefit the buildability of the project during the construction phase.
Additionally, we act as a specialist consultant on behalf of the client to review modular quotes, ensure completeness and adherence to industry standards and to evaluate and project manage prefabrication suppliers right through to commissioning.
For MEP sub-contractors, we provide:
Conversion of 2D traditional MEP drawings to 3D BIM compliant modular designs and fabrication shop drawings.
We provide full setup of systems and training for set-up of MEP module production workshop. Having previously been in the manufacturing side of both the POD/module and MEP prefabrication business over the last 17 years, as consultants we are in the strongest position to assist our clients in setting up and running their own prefabrication manufacturing facilities. We understand the process and can faithfully provide the most efficient and flexible operations for our customers.
How did you get to where you are now?
As the founder and CEO of Off-Site Engineering Solutions, I have found myself at the forefront of Off-Site Construction internationally for over 20 years. Prior to arriving in the UAE nine years ago, I set up operations and ran a number of businesses in Jamaica, Ireland, UAE, Oman, Saudi Arabia, etc., as a contractor and module manufacturer. I now run the consulting engineering business specialising in prefabrication and fast track construction systems based in Dubai.
Many of our specialist team members have been an integral part of the new wave of off-site construction technologies and have made significant contributions to policy, systems, innovation, direction and growth within the industry.
What are your three main big ideas, and what does success look like?
Our company is focused on improving productivity and quality while reducing labour on construction projects – all of which feed into lower costs and improved profits for our clients.
Through the effective utilisation of 3D modelling and BIM technology, off-site manufacture of building services modules now represents the lowest risk method of the delivery and installation of MEP services to the construction site. The design and construction process is revised so that as much work can be done on repeated sub-assemblies and off-site in a controlled manufacturing environment. Corridor MEP modules, riser modules, bathroom racks, water meter modules and valve sets – all of these can be prefabricated ahead of time and quickly installed as soon as the MEP sub-contractor gains access to that particular area of the building. How can traditional construction techniques compete with this? The short answer is that they can’t.
How can BIM be adopted at a much earlier stage?
Very often we are told by clients that they commission the BIM models at the end of the construction process simply to fulfil the mandatory requirements. This is a terrible waste of very good and potentially useful technology.
Commissioning the BIM model early will allow complete de-clashing and coordination of the services at the design stage and also the inclusion of prefabricated elements designed into the 3D model at the beginning, instead of having to reverse engineer at an additional cost after the traditional design is done. Why pay for two sets of engineering work when, it is possible to do it correctly? It would also allow the bills of materials to be exported for accurate measurements and ordering as well as allowing prefabrication of many smaller elements spools etc., to enhance productivity.
How does BIM encourage the use of prefabrication and modularisation?
Research has found that the primary reason for not using modularisation and prefabrication was that the buildings were not designed with this in mind. By enabling accurate 3D prototyping, greater consistency is brought to the building and manufacturing processes. Early clash detection in the BIM model saves time and rework. By identifying issues before they show up in the field, users can prevent costly mistakes. As changes will be incorporated into the BIM model prior to the production of working drawings, these changes can be made with minimal impact on time and productivity in virtual space and the models will form the basis for the working drawings released to the production floor prior to manufacture.
What do you think is the future of prefabrication in the GCC?
Quality buildings and public infrastructure should be conceived with not only the end use in mind, but with enhanced buildability and maintainability designed at an early stage. It all starts with BIM. The recent BIM mandate in the UAE was an excellent starting point – and there is no reason not to either mandate or encourage the logical follow-on with the use of bathroom and kitchen pods, MEP modules, precast beams and stairways and other proven forms of off-site manufactured systems.
Think about it. The BIM model is now a mandated requirement, so why not leverage it to the maximum and gain additional efficiencies that prefabrication delivers?