King & Moffatt, which employs over 400 people, provides its clients with a full cradle-to-grave service package to meet all of their mechanical, electrical, process and maintenance needs. As an early adopter of BIM, the mechanical and electrical engineering contractor introduced many clients to how BIM can streamline the delivery of complex engineering and construction projects. As a result, it is recognised as a project partner by many of those clients, joining projects at concept stage and providing services throughout facilities’ entire life cycles on sites all over Europe.
King & Moffatt strategic planning
King & Moffatt’s senior management team measures King & Moffatt’s success in terms of its clients’ successes. As part of a five-year strategic plan launched in 2016, it focused on markets where it was strongest, such as food, logistics, life sciences, manufacturing and data centres, and it established an internal structure that gave it the capacity to meet clients’ changing project and plant maintenance needs.
Group Chief Operating Officer Brendan Sweeney explains: “The past few years have been a very exciting time for the M&E sector, and King & Moffatt has grown with our clients. Our business model has evolved to a position where we have become project partners with clients from initial concept through to the commissioning, monitoring and maintenance of their facilities.
“Today, we are invited on to projects at concept stage by clients because we have shown them that we have a clear understanding of what their project goals and deliverables are, and we provide an integrated range of mechanical, electrical, fire and security, design, construction, and maintenance packages.”
A data-driven business
Sweeney says that the contractor has been building its BIM capabilities since about 2015 and has always been evangelical about it.
“We have led from the front with BIM. We could see from the start the huge difference this would make to project efficiency and cost reduction. We have a strong BIM capacity and aim to have where possible all of our projects fully designed and clash coordinated before starting on site, regardless of this being a requirement for the project.”
An early example of the contractor’s BIM evangelicalism was its proposed BIM modelling of a project to a client who had not considered BIM as an option at that stage.
“Because of the relationship we had built up with the client and their trust in our judgement, they agreed to let us develop a full BIM model of their project. We took all of the architect’s and other engineers’ designs and built the model. We then coordinated the assessments of the model. This completely changed how the project proceeded, as each team member began to see the benefits of our approach. On completion, the client and project team were able to say that it was the first job that they had so few issues on. There was one clash with the refrigeration. When we reviewed it, we discovered that the installer hadn’t completed the work according to the model. From that point on, that client has wanted the modelling done up-front on every project since.”
Today, King & Moffatt can provide the best value when it joins projects at the concept stage.
“We can build a BIM model from the concept. By the time projects get to site, they are fully designed and clash coordinated. As a result, there are no direct project delays, greater efficiencies are achieved, and cost issues don’t arise with contractors.
“In 2021, as part of our new five-year strategic plan, we made the decision with our in-house design team to move all of our projects to BIM regardless of the requirement. This has delivered clear benefits to projects from a programme and prefabrication perspective and has helped clients in their decision to make the transition.”
King & Moffatt was recently recognised with two awards at the Sisk Supply Chain Awards 2021 in Dublin. It received the awards for the “Supply Chain Partner of the Year (Ireland East)” and the “Digital Project Delivery Award”.
Sweeney adds that digital innovation is a key part of the contractor’s strategy and has been for a long time.
“We are an innovative contractor that has recently added BIM 360 into our operations, joining our already embraced new technologies, such as BIM, VR and AR. We look forward to bringing that same energy to our further digital transformation as well as using it to help our clients make their plants and operations more sustainable.”
Brendan Sweeney points out that King & Moffatt is lucky to have a strong digital team in place.
“Our team is very passionate about digital innovation. Our design manager Padraic King’s passion and knowledge feeds back into the company. We have digital capabilities in the company, such as scan-to-BIM, which help us distinguish ourselves from our competitors. We are also investing in training, software and expertise to make the most of data analytics and become a data-driven business. Digitalisation is essential to staying competitive within our industry. We are seeing greater volumes of data than ever before, we have many different software systems, and we understand the need to bring together data across from all areas to work together more effectively.”
As part of its strategic development, in recent years, King & Moffatt established two subsidiary companies, King & Moffatt Connected and King & Moffatt Offsite, which have enabled it to further develop relationships with clients by taking greater control of its supply chain at the project conception stage.
“King & Moffatt Connected provides design, maintenance, energy engineering, controls and small works services to our clients,” Brendan Sweeney explains. “It furthers our strategic aim of nurturing key client relationships by equipping us with the ability to provide earlier engagement at concept and design stage, as well as ongoing services to client facilities through our maintenance and small works offering.
“King & Moffatt Offsite delivers offsite prefabricated MEP solutions to our contracting businesses day-in day-out in Ireland, the UK and mainland Europe. We have 26,000 sq feet of dedicated offsite prefabrication and manufacturing space in Carrick-on-Shannon, as well as training rooms for first-year apprentice off-the-job training (introduction to M&E Construction), annual enhanced off-the-job apprentice training (2nd, 3rd, and 4th years), internal quality and health and safety training. Our offsite MEP solutions improve the speed of delivery, safety, and quality. The advantages of offsite include efficiency, a safer, more controlled work environment and less waste.”
King & Moffatt’s client list is a “who’s who” of FDA companies and tier-one contractors operating throughout Europe. In addition to its head offices and offsite manufacturing facility in Carrick-on-Shannon, King and Moffatt has local operations in the United Kingdom, Germany and the Netherlands. It has expanded rapidly into mainland Europe, which will become an even more important market in the coming years.
“Our strategy is to enter new geographical sectors to work with existing key clients,” Brendan Sweeney says. “When our partners decided to grow their operations in mainland Europe, for reasons such as Brexit, they wanted us working alongside them, and we followed, developing European operations with an initial focus on Germany and the Netherlands. We are currently looking at Belgium and the Nordic countries for opportunities and have been pricing work in these markets.”
King & Moffatt is also focused tightly on a number of sectors.
“We do the vast majority of our work in chosen key sectors – food, logistics, life sciences, manufacturing and data centres. This was a deliberate decision, as we have been able to bring great experience in these areas, and our clients know that we can deliver for them.”
Career opportunities at King & Moffatt
Prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, King & Moffatt would have been the first port of call for any ambitious engineering professional, construction professional, or tradesperson relocating to the northwest of the country. The company has always invested heavily in ensuring staff are up to date on the latest technologies and processes and have confidence that King & Moffatt offer them clear routes to advancement.
“King & Moffatt is a great place to work. We are an exciting company with a lot of international growth and opportunities. We are consistently involved in high-profile projects, such as the Alexander Stadium re-development, SmartParc, Derby, (a new state-of-the-art campus-style food manufacturing hub that will address sustainable food production for the future), DO & CO Heathrow (a world-class food production facility for which we have been nominated in the International category in the Irish Construction Excellence Awards 2022), and Centre Parcs, Longford Forest, which many potential construction professionals would be very interested in being part of.”
King & Moffatt recently undertook a survey of its employees, and the results back were very positive.
“People enjoy working with their colleagues and feel their efforts are appreciated,” Brendan Sweeney continues. “One of the most important things is a good atmosphere and environment to work in.
“By ensuring King & Moffatt is a great place to work, we have over 400 directly-employed personnel, and the team is growing all the time. We are a services business; our people are our business, and that is something we never lose sight of.”
King & Moffatt is just about to launch a new programme that will present any recruit, apprentice or junior professional with a roadmap to a successful lifetime career within the company, where they can measure how they are progressing and know precisely what they have to do to succeed.
Brendan Sweeney says that they are very excited about the roadmap, but with huge skills shortages in the market, all any contractor can do at the moment is to ensure that their teams are happy and well looked after. He adds that while the government and Solas have been supporting the sector, there is another fix that government could make to help address skills shortages at this time.
“Experienced, skilled workers and professionals are in a strong place if they decide to jump ship from one firm to another. But this is driving up costs at a time when the sector is experiencing unprecedented cost inflation. However, if the period required to process visas for overseas workers could be reduced, this would go a considerable way to filling that skills gap. It is incredible that under the existing process, it can take up to 20 weeks for a visa to be granted. This makes it near impossible to get the right people, as, by the time the process is completed, the candidate has been granted a visa to work in another European country.” Brendan Sweeney comments that the Irish M&E sector has weathered well through the Covid-19 pandemic. While there are ongoing supply chain and labour issues for the industry, he is optimistic about the coming years.
“There are huge opportunities with offsite prefabrication becoming the norm in the industry. Digital construction is also rapidly becoming standard for all projects. With the increased use of data and analytics software, VR and AR, the construction tech revolution is now well underway.
“We have ambitious plans for our King & Moffatt Connected and King & Moffatt Offsite operations. They are currently in relative infancy in comparison to where we see them in a few years, but they are already playing a strategically important role in the overall group.
“As an organisation, our decision to focus on a few sectors has meant we can more effectively meet the needs of our clients. We expect to break into a number of new European markets in the coming 18 months, and with this continue to expand our work base. Today, we carry out much of the monitoring and maintenance work for our clients from our base in Carrick-on- Shannon. We are also prefabricating units for distribution across Europe at our offsite facility. So, we are ready and look forward to the opportunities and challenges that lie ahead,” Brendan Sweeney concludes.