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Monday, June 17, 2024
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MMC Ireland: Meet the Founders – Declan Wallace, Arthur O’Brien and Pat Kirwan

On the eve of the MMC Ireland National Conference 2024, BREAKINGGROUND.news meets the co-founders who started a movement that brings together close to 90 of Ireland and the UK’s most recognisable construction brands.

Over the next 72 hours, up to 400 Irish and international leaders and learners of offsite and other modern methods of construction will come together in the Lyrath Estate in Kilkenny. With the delivery of the built environment challenged to address global challenges of digitalisation and decarbonisation, industry pioneers Declan Wallace, CEO of Evolusion Innovation, Arthur O’Brien, Managing Director and Pat Kirwan, Director, are on a mission. As co-founders of MMC Ireland, the industry body representing companies involved in the procurement, design and delivery of MMC, they understand the power and potential of bringing such deep knowledge and project expertise together to drive MMC adoption.

Visionary Leadership and Industry Insight

Declan Wallace, the current Chair of the MMC Ireland Board, emphasises the need for collaboration within the MMC sector:

“We needed to bring the MMC sector together, to have them work together and share information as much as possible.” 

The Board Chair highlights the misconception around the secretive nature of MMC, clarifying that while the business model remains the key challenge, the essence lies in standardising systems and ensuring they are designed, manufactured, and delivered correctly. He observes that the industry’s complexity demands a collaborative approach to streamline processes and ensure both project viability and company profitability. Decan identifies the mispricing of MMC projects as a significant hurdle, noting that understanding the intricacies of MMC can lead to more accurate cost assessments and quicker project delivery compared to traditional methods. 

“In terms of cost, MMC is roughly the same price as traditional methods, but the big opportunity is that you can deliver quicker,” he explains. 

The rapid project turnaround allows developers to commence subsequent projects sooner, enhancing overall profitability. The robust project expertise and capacity to scale are vital assets of the Irish sector, according to Declan. However, he stresses the need for a sustainable, buildable pipeline to ensure market growth—a central objective of MMC Ireland. 

“We set up MMC Ireland to grow the industry and we believe that this can be best achieved by working together,” he asserts. 

The organisation’s collaborative ethos aims to contribute to a more sustainable industry, leveraging Ireland’s unique position to shape policy and address systemic blockages to delivery.

Global Perspectives and Local Impact

Arthur O’Brien, who brings his extensive Irish and international experience to MMC projects, is committed to advancing the sector in Ireland and for Irish companies internationally. Arthur’s work outside Ireland, particularly on large-scale projects, has equipped him and his C+W O’Brien team with invaluable insights into the industrialisation of construction. 

“Our approach to large-scale projects, especially in challenging environments, has been to embrace the industrialisation of construction,” he says, highlighting the benefits of international learning curves for domestic projects.

The MMC champion emphasises the importance of every team member’s role in the construction process, advocating for an inclusive approach where each individual’s contribution is valued. This philosophy, he believes, is crucial in modernising construction and manufacturing processes for the 21st century. 

“From the young person tidying up the site to the head architect, every role is crucial,” he affirms.

Arthur shares his optimism for the growth of an MMC-ready pipeline of projects for Ireland, pointing to the momentum and collaborative spirit of the members driving MMC Ireland forward.

Collaborating Construction Innovation

Together, Declan, Arthur and Pat’s leadership has steered MMC Ireland towards becoming a formidable force in the industry, not just in Ireland, but globally. The organisation now brings together close to 90 member companies, all of whom share the founders’ commitment to transforming construction practices in Ireland. Their vision is supported by a practical strategy to grow the marketplace that includes capturing and sharing sectoral knowledge, establishing best practice, contributing to government policy, and promoting transparent procurement processes.

The MMC Ireland members’ board features representation from each of the seven categories of MMC, including Chair Declan Wallace, Evolusion Innovation; Pat Kirwan, C+W O’Brien Architects; Tony McLoughlin, Glenveagh Properties plc; Sarah-Jane Pisciotti, John Sisk & Son; Eoin Waldron, Castle Modular; Ger Fahey, Horizon Offsite Ltd; Richard Walsh, O’Dwyer Steel; and Kevin Loftus, Cairn Homes plc.

Paul Tierney, CEO of MMC Ireland, encapsulates the organisation’s mission succinctly: 

“On one hand, we have a government that is open to learning and willing to engage with industry; and on the other, we have a technically brilliant MMC sector that has the capability and capacity to scale delivery. Our role within MMC Ireland is to cut out the noise and waste between the two.”

MMC Ireland’s proactive approach is reflected in its various working groups dedicated to technical guidance, national policy support, and awareness and education. These initiatives aim to align government policies with industry capabilities, ensuring a coherent strategy for MMC adoption and growth. 

Looking Ahead

As MMC Ireland continues to expand its influence, the focus remains on growing the sector and creating a sustainable and innovative construction environment. While Declan and Arthur, together with their teams at Evolusion Innovation and C+W O’Brien Architects, kicked off this MMC movement in Ireland, they are clear that it is the combined expertise and visionary leadership of the growing membership that will be instrumental in navigating the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead. 

Their combined efforts not only promise to revolutionise the Irish construction sector but also position Ireland as a centre of excellence for MMC in Europe.

For more information on MMC Ireland and its initiatives, visit www.mmcireland.ie.

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