Digital Manufacturing Ireland (DMI) is an industry-led centre designed to support the country’s next wave of manufacturing. Supported by the government through IDA Ireland, Ireland’s foreign direct investment agency, the National Technology Park facility in Limerick 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.

When identifying the facility’s optimal location, a priority was to ensure its accessibility to a diverse range of manufacturing firms, which contribute to 37% of Ireland’s GDP. 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.

A seamless process through collaboration

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, anticipating future trends and drawing insights from similar, recently completed projects.

Our cohesive approach to project management, procurement, value engineering and contract administration reduced 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 made adjustments that resulted in the building being completed and handed over to IDA in January 2022 to begin the fit-out.

Arup’s appointment was extended to work with DMI on the facility’s fit-out 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.

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 building’s look and feel.

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 users can easily access required services, including a compressed air ring main with high-level valves and caps that ensure effortless tap offs, and a 250A BusBar system lining the first-floor perimeter of the factory floor space that 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.