An electrician by trade, Joseph Mady returned to college in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis and construction slowdown.
He undertook a course in Electrical Engineering Design and Energy Management.
He first learned of Building Information Modelling (BIM) seemingly by chance. A passing encounter with a lecturer in his final days of college would unknowingly launch Mady on a trajectory that not only shaped his future, but would have him play an integral role in shaping the industry.
‘Have you seen this new BIM thing?’ his lecturer asked. His response? ‘No, I haven’t looked into it much really.’ The lecturer was right, and chance would have it that a first-of-its-kind course in BIM was being launched in TU Dublin and Mady was there.
“I was the youngest one in the group actually, I can remember,” he says.
Being early days, there wasn’t much known about how BIM would transform the industry, nor much known about how to implement it effectively.
“The course created back then evolved over time,” Mady says. “It felt fragmented at the start but evolved, that would be the best way to describe it.” But even so, he could see the potential BIM had to offer to the construction industry.
Shortly after graduating, and running various projects as a project manager, Mady took up a role as BIM modeller at a semiconductor plant in Kildare.
“It’s a bit like compulsory army service in a country,” he says. “Everyone in construction in Ireland has done a stint at the facility.”
From this, he wanted to learn more about 3D modelling and to discover practical applications of BIM in Ireland. On leaving this role to further improve his knowledge around BIM and the processes he worked with a design consultant.
He continued to make progress and eventually established his own BIM unit within one of the first M&E contracting companies to achieve certification to the PAS 1192 BIM standard – Designer Group.
His experience taught him just how large the appetite for BIM in Ireland was and, even more so, it showed him just how starved for talented BIM managers the sector was. Surely there’s a market for my skills here, he thought.
A market there was indeed. In the past six years alone, Mady has become a Committee Member for the CIF’s Construction 4.0, BIM National Mirror Committee Member for the National Standards Authority of Ireland, founder of his own company DCT.
He is also providing education on related matters in construction currently as a part-time lecturer for TU Dublin. His company has been involved in a number of ground-breaking and progressive projects from pharmaceuticals to data centres, and one project that keeps coming up is the work for Dublin Airport.
“We started working with the hand baggage upgrade project from 2019,” he says. “Nearly as long as the company has been around.”
What he likes most about this project, an upgrade to the baggage handling infrastructure, “is just the sheer difficulty of the project and the solutions we could provide with technology”.
The challenge he says stemmed from having to join a retrofit of Terminal 2 through a new build between the two terminals and on to Terminal 1, also completed over the course of the Covid-19 shutdowns.
“We had to fit all these new systems first of all into a building that was already built, but then we had to connect a new building to an even older building again.”
Utilising technology to deliver a challenging project during the pandemic, for a client in the aviation industry which operates to extremely high standards and demands, makes the project stand out all the more to Mady.
Advanced data centres and cutting edge pharmaceutical industrial plants are the “bread and butter” for DCT but “this was something different, not the standard construction project”.
DCT was this year awarded the ISO 9001 certification marking another milestone for Ma. He says: “It was important to me that we get this certification because we go in to audit other companies and we need to show that we operate to the highest standards ourselves.”
DCT conduct audits and advise companies on how to improve their processes to achieve optimum results in terms of their digital processes.
Here Mady describes his guiding philosophy for utilising new tech in a company. He talks about how he would see shortfalls and missed opportunities within companies that could be improved through BIM and other digitalisation processes.
“What’s really important is not to fundamentally change how a company operates,” he says. The purpose of tech and the advice he gives is not to become slave to a technology that forces a company to completely alter what they do and who they are, but rather to see where in the existing process tech could offer a solution to improve production.
“You don’t want a company to be shoehorned into working with a piece of software,” he says. “You want the software to work with the company.”
As part of his philosophy, any change forced upon a company to perform for a piece of technology will only meet resistance.As an example he asks to consider switching to an iPad for drawings instead of paper, a simple change that doesn’t fundamentally alter the course of work.
Although he admits one challenge that is present in the industry is that “there will always be people who just resist any change no matter what”.
He recalls one project working with a client implementing new hardware and the staff protesting against an iPad “while he was telling me it was too complicated, he was placing a bet on an app on his phone, when there’s no difference between the two”.
A supporting factor to a successful implementation, Mady notes, is in recognising who wants to champion the technology within an organisation, enabling them to do so and from there you will see greater adoption.
This works both within an individual organisation between teams and scaled up throughout the industry as a whole as competitors seek to emulate the successes they see in adopting technology.
In general terms, the industry in Ireland is quite open to adopting new techniques as Mady sees it.
“Irish construction companies are recognised globally for delivering,” he says. “That comes with our ability to adapt to new techniques, deliver to a high standard and to innovate in the market.”