We need stabilisation around the economic impact on the building sector

"The last bust was catastrophic for the industry and there needs to be a commitment from governments to ensure large capital projects that are planned continue during a downtown" says Brian Glancy of the Kingspan Group

Brian Glancy is Head of Digital Built Environment Strategy at Kingspan Group

What's your name?

Brian Glancy

What’s your current job?

Head of Digital Built Environment Strategy at Kingspan Group

How long have you held the position?

12 months

Can you describe your daily work routine?

Being a Digital Nomad of sorts, I spend most of my day using every type of web meeting software from BlueJeans to Skype. Most of the Digital Team are based in Ireland or the UK, and I am in Toronto. I therefore find that offsetting my day and getting up a little early can help. Although not being a morning person this is a little tough, but I am slowly mastering avoiding the creaking floorboards so not to wake our two little kids.

Currently the major project work is structured around looking at a Product Information Management & Life Cycle Management system for Kingspan, figuring out how to integrate it across the various Systems in the business in relation to a logical data model and working on a strategy to leverage this data once we have better control of it.

We see this as a potential initiative to bring more value to our customers in unique ways. I am quite excited about the potential it can bring to Kingspan and the industry in general.

The other work revolves around coordinating the BIM strategy, working with the likes of Autodesk on Strategic projects, educating both internal and external teams as well as attending as many digital events as possible to try and keep on top of the changing landscape. All of which involves a considerable amount of time in the air getting around.

What is your professional background?

I started in Kingspan in 2006 on their graduate program, (which I can highly recommend for anyone graduating in the coming years). I was placed on the Divisional Engineering Team based in Kingscourt but essentially on the road most weeks hopping between Ireland the UK and Europe. The work focused around capital projects, from panel lines to R&D projects. One of my favourite projects was managing the installation of a precision powder coating line at our facility in Sherburn. One which to this day still holds one of the highest accreditations in the industry for quality. My background in Mechatronic Engeering from DCU was a great help during these years. While in Ireland I undertook a Masters in Industrial Design at NCAD, developing a B2C product for Kingspan based on utilising Design Thinking methodology and Kingspan’s current core capabilities. In 2010 I was offered a position at the time in our new production facility on the outskirts of Toronto. During this time, I took the role of R&D Director for North America, before being asked to manage an insulated door business in Florida.

While in Canada I continued my education at OCAD with a Masters in Strategic Foresight and Innovation. This helped me set up a Skunkworks style innovation program in North America called CATLabs. Cat being a baby Lion, but also an acronym from Core Adjacent and Transformational Labs.

In 2018 I was asked to join the Digital Team with a focus on BIM strategy and the broader Digital Built Environment. I have had a very varied and diverse career to date coupled with education, Kingspan has enabled me to do that for which I am incredibly grateful. I suppose to sum it up I’m an Engineer but a creative at heart.

Tell me about yourself away from work?

I am married to Aoife, my rock and best friend for almost 20 years. We have two young children ages 1 & 2 and live on the East end of Toronto. I am a keen cyclist and love going to gigs but haven’t had much time for that in recent years!

Tell us something very few people know about you?

My first job out of college was as a brewer for the Porterhouse, which as a young graduate was quite the experience. I also used to DJ a little and have appeared on Echo Island back in the day, playing a Sax solo of Summertime. I have also cycled in Thailand and South Africa for charity, one in particular being the National Council for the Blind of Ireland.

You are speaking at the forthcoming 2019 DigiCon Summit in Croke Park, Dublin. What is the focus of your talk?

The focus of the talk is around the work we are undertaking in general on Big Data & BIM at Kingspan in order to enable the Digital Built Environment for years to come. I will also demonstrate what we are starting to do with that data in order to make things easier for our customers and industry.

What in your opinion are the key obstacles for innovation in the sector?

I think there are a couple of key obstacles that need to be tackled, standardisation of manufactures data and a common language. Without some sort of agreement around this, it will be difficulty to leverage emerging software/technology to the best of its capabilities during all of parts of the construction process as well as developing a systems-based approach to building elements.

Also, there needs to be some sort of stabilisation around the economic impact on the sector. The last bust was catastrophic for the industry and there needs to be a commitment from governments to ensure large capital projects that are planned continue during a downturn and the tap is not turned off. This will enable companies to strategically invest in site technology to overcome that lack of productivity that cannot simple be solved by increasing site labour.

Lastly, we do require an industry platform to be developed, that serves Architect to Owner in one piece of technology.

How do you see the industry being changed by digital disruption over the coming decade?

I think you will start to see the emergence of technology impacting on current process methodology. Workflows and data transfer will change significantly where more automation will emerge, enabling rapid prototyping of buildings, simulating and evaluating before any decision to break ground. Product, system and building performance will be analysed by algorithms and there is no doubt that you will see AI being used to develop the most advanced buildings and making decisions around whatever constraints the architect to owner want to be the defining factors of their project. Companies that don’t have interoperable data will struggle. In the future your ability to get specified or win a project may be based on how a piece of software evaluates your product.

I will also say that the digital revolution can only be beneficial for the industry. It is important that we as a sector collaborate to better ourselves, rather than waiting for the outlier to come in and disrupt. The opportunity is ours to grow and events like the CIF Digital Construction Summit are great enablers of conversation and learning.

Brian Glancy will be speaking at the 2019 DigiCon Summit on June 13th in Croke Park, Dublin. For more information and ticket options visitwww.digitalconstruction.ie