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From modest beginnings in Dublin in 1989, ESS Modular have grown to become an industry leader in the UK and Ireland in offsite modular construction. ESS Modular was traditionally a CAD and outsourcing company that has now transitioned to a BIM inhouse lean outfit, leveraging the best Autodesk technology over the last decade.
ESS Modular currently employs over 250 people, which increased by 100 people in the last year alone. This was due in part to the increased demand for healthcare projects over the last 18 months, but more significantly has been driven by a big shift across the sector to adopt, embrace and actively pursue modern methods of construction. The company is engaged in a significant number of public sector projects where there is a focus on maximising the premanufactured value (PMV) of the building which allows the Government to see tangible benefits around how quickly buildings become operational. The company has recently secured over £80 million worth of new healthcare projects in the UK and Ireland as healthcare teams realise the benefits of modular construction for the sector.”
ESS Modular joined forces with Procad (now Symetri) 3 years ago to expand their knowledge and to utilise BIM360 in a more efficient way. “With thorough knowledge and understanding of the current construction trends and requirements, Procad (now Symetri), understood what way the BIM 360 and lean workflows could be tailored to suit ESS Modular” says Keith Martin, Design Manager.
A major pain point for ESS Modular was their use of a non-Autodesk platform in the structural department, and their attempts to integrate this into their BIM workflows. This created specific SILOs where cross platform communication was inhibited and at times almost impossible. Also, with external designers and resources using different versions or even different platforms there was zero alignment and costly errors from both a time and quality perspective.
Having operators working from home due to the current climate has had its issues but with the use of Autodesk Cloud technology (Collaborate Pro), ESS were more effective in collaborating, resulting in time saving and improved collaboration.
Originally used as just a function of design, the goal was to leverage the BIM360 Platform across the entire lifecycle of the project. The first challenge for ESS was to digitise all their data in the cloud. This was first established with the integration of BIM360 Docs. With this first set up, it generated ROIs from the new “single source of truth” BIM360 Docs. It gave confidence to site operatives as to the latest version employed across the organisation.
The next challenge was to align the disciplines and remove the silos. With this BIM360 Design (Collaborate Pro) was trialled on a 4-month basis. This was increased across the design department as the return was clearly visible once the digital tool was embedded within the lean workflow. Collaborate Pro licenses were implemented and assisted the working from home policy for all the design department.
With the entire design and document management now transitioned to a digital environment, ESS decided to establish and implement the Quality Assurance/Quality Control and health, safety, and environment management controls into the BIM360 digital platform. To date this transition has been a success across all sectors with executives having visibility through live dashboards.
BIM Collaboration, where the syncing of the models previously was hugely time consuming, demonstrated its worth very quickly across the team. Within a short time frame, it was recognised that using the cloud-based model sharing feature saved as much as 1.5 hours per user per day. This was particularly apparent with the detailed heavy models on a typical project, which could often take up to 45 min to sync twice daily – with savings speaking for themselves.
BIM Coordination was hugely beneficial in terms of clash detection, with the ability to interact with live current models, ensured that the team had full visibility. This resulted in eliminating the number of clashes, with an overall reduction of errors on the factory floor – another huge time and cost saver.
“Working with ESS Modular has been a proactive and exciting one” says Sean O’Dwyer, AEC Division Manager at Procad (now Symetri). “Having the key executives and champions realise the ROIs and work required to digitally innovate an organisation like ESS is one of the biggest benefits to have”. “ESS Modular continue to push the boundaries of BIM and innovation with little if zero impact to their current workflows, be it in the design office, factory, or shop floor.” “Any changes to accommodate the transformation are met with little roadblocks as the team are very enthusiastic and looking to expand their own BIM knowledge and understanding.”
With ongoing workshops and upskilling sessions, all users both internally and externally are informed of platform benefits and usage. They can question reasoning behind the establishment of the system and workflows. Then the system is then tweaked, and the key BIM Champions relay the enhancements to their respective divisions.
ESS are experts at leveraging the very best technology and systems, and this is what makes them market leaders in the Modular industry. Procad (now Symetri) are excited to continue working with such an innovative company.