Photograph of Digital Manufacturing Ireland facility from the outside.; Photograph of Digital Manufacturing Ireland facility from the outside.;

Digital Manufacturing Ireland, Limerick

Designing a state-of-the-art facility to transform Ireland’s manufacturing value chain

Digital Manufacturing Ireland (DMI) is an industry-led centre designed to support the country’s next wave of manufacturing. Supported by the Irish Government through IDA Ireland, Ireland’s foreign direct investment agency, the facility is located in Limerick’s National Technology Park in the southwest of Ireland, and will place the Irish manufacturing sector at the forefront of digital transformation internationally.

The digital manufacturing centre brings the best of contemporary digital technology to manufacturing firms, from SMEs to multinationals. The new 12,000ft2 hub features a technology-focused research and development floor that includes an end-to-end physical and digital production line with digital twin capabilities and offers several collaboration and administrative spaces.

Winner of the Association of Consulting Engineers of Ireland (ACEI) 2023 Project Management Award, the building was designed alongside partners Henry J Lyons Architects, Michael Barrett Partnership Quantity Surveyors and Conack Construction. Adopting a project management-led, integrated approach, Arup’s team of project management, civil, structural, mechanical, electrical, fire, health and safety, BIM, environmental and manufacturing specialists guided this complex digital manufacturing centre from planning and design through to construction and fitout.

In identifying the optimal location for the facility, ensuring its accessibility to a diverse range of manufacturing firms – which contribute to 37% of Ireland’s GDP – was a priority. Our engineering and planning consultants and designers placed a strong emphasis on masterplanning and initial design, working to identify a spacious site that would offer a flexible and scalable environment to accommodate potential growth and evolving needs.

Project Summary

100% expansion capabiilty

12,000ft²digital factory

Close collaboration ensures a seamless process

From the outset, our multidisciplinary team worked closely with IDA Ireland, end users, industry experts, technology professionals, construction contractors and the digital factory provider to ensure the design would provide a world-class, adaptable building that fulfilled stakeholder requirements.

During the masterplanning stage, Arup embraced a ‘best for project’ approach, drawing from insights gained from similar recently completed projects and anticipating future trends to inform the design.

Our cohesive approach to project management, procurement, value engineering and contract administration curtailed project costs, maintained design consistency throughout the project lifecycle and expedited DMI operations by minimising post-construction modifications. Despite a COVID-19-enforced shutdown from January to May 2021, our programme and project management specialists navigated delays well and adjusted the programme, resulting in the building being completed and handed over to IDA in January 2022 for the fit-out to begin.

Arup’s appointment was extended to work with DMI on the fit-out of the facility from April to October 2022. Through intensive collaboration with factory provider ABB Group and specialised subconsultants, a seamless and complex digital fitout was achieved, facilitated by the design solutions implemented earlier. The Arup team meticulously coordinated complex design and construction activities, mitigating the risk of damage to sensitive equipment while adhering to a tight timeline.

Our track record in advanced manufacturing combined with our expertise in project management-led delivery enabled us to deliver this vital facility which will generate a competitive advantage for Ireland’s manufacturing sector. ” Diane Leahy Diane Leahy Director

Leveraging cutting-edge digital tools, we streamlined the design timeline by prioritising BIM-driven project delivery. The design was developed through flythrough 3D models intricately linked with analysis packages utilised by the design team. This approach significantly reduced review time for the client while providing a tangible understanding of the look and feel of the building.

Office and breakout spaces overlook the factory floor and control room, encouraging open collaboration and partnerships. All photos © Donal Murphy Photography

Innovative design for a scalable, resilient building

Externally, the site is primed for a 100% expansion in capacity, underscoring its status as a future-proofed structure that can seamlessly evolve with technological shifts and changing requirements.

Our mechanical and electrical design features further enhance this scalability, ensuring that users can easily access required services; for example, a compressed air ring main with high-level valves and caps ensure effortless tap offs and a 250A BusBar system lining the first-floor perimeter of the factory floor space facilitate a flexible internal layout. With a prominent double height research and development floor fitted out to 50% of its capacity, the facility provides an adaptable space for collaboration and the advancement of next generation manufacturing.