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Automation and collaboration saving costs on National Children’s Hospital

drone photograph of the construction of the National Children's Hospital

Appointed to deliver the roof steel package on Dublin’s new National Children’s Hospital, automation and collaboration was critical to Struccie Design Associates’ work - both facilitated by BIM and cloud-based tools.


Once completed, the new National Children’s Hospital (NCH) in Dublin will offer a world-class paediatric medical facility, combining the services currently provided at three hospitals into the one, modern and custom-designed hospital.  Due to open in the second half of 2024, the hospital’s construction represents the largest and most significant capital investment healthcare project undertaken in the country.

Appointed by lead steel fabricator KH Engineering, Struccie Design Associates, based in Blackpool, Cork was responsible for delivering the steel detailing for the NCH roof package. With a curved and oval form, the structure alludes to the architecture of Dublin’s best-known civic spaces and buildings, most notably the Royal Hospital at Kilmainham (Irelands oldest hospital).

Speaking about the project, Lee Chitty, Director at Struccie Design Associates, said: There were numerous challenges on this project, many of which presented themselves very early on. The first was the complexity of the roof package details. Given the oval form, the rafters were curved with transverse purlins spanning onto the curved rafters, creating a faceted framework, which was very challenging both to detail and set out. It was also an Execution Class 4 project, each assembly and part were able to be traced by splitting the steelwork into smaller phases which meant easier control of the steelwork when being issued for fabrication.

photograph of the National Children's Hospital build, focused on the roof and steelwork

The use of intelligent 3D modelling software proved key in helping us to overcome these challenges, particularly through the use of custom components. Using Tekla Structures, we were able to utilise the modelling software to create our own project specific custom components and apply pre-defined settings in our assembly drawings, with the automation helping us to minimise repetitive tasks.

A great example of this in action relates to the steelwork weep holes, required in all beams and columns to aid the discharge of moisture. The galv-holes tool, available in Tekla Warehouse, was brilliant and an absolute gamechanger. Once you’ve pre-defined the settings for specific section sizes and connections, you can reduce your workflow times, as opposed to having to manually detail every single one.


Understandably, coordination was also critical when it came to considering and detailing the NCH roof package, particularly when it came to the steel-to-concrete connections. With four sloping concrete cores on the project and a large number of steel connections to consider, accuracy was essential.

Lee explained: Working in partnership with our client KH Engineering, they carried out a survey of the concrete cores whilst the build was going on, on site. We were then able to import the survey data directly into the 3D modelling environment within Tekla Structures and use this to accurately detail and set out our steel connections. Without this survey data and the ability to import it directly into our model, there would have definitely been issues on site further down the line.

screenshots of the National Children's Hospital design within Tekla Structures software

In addition to Tekla Structures, Struccie Design Associates also utilised the cloud-based Trimble Connect tool to aid collaboration, both internally and externally.

Lee said: Collaboration on a project of this scale was critical and is somewhere that digital technology and a cloud-based system can really add value. Trimble Connect was a big tool for us on the NCH project. We had two ‘projects’ within Trimble Connect; one of which contained all our steelwork detailing. Using the ‘To Do’ action tool, we were able to tag design team members and keep a live diary of what actions were required and what actions had been taken, making the internal communication process far more streamlined.

The second ‘project’ was one that we shared externally. We were able to import all other design team models, giving us an accurate, consolidated and multi-discipline model to work from and refer to. Used as a focal collaboration point, sharing our data and models enabled effective coordination and the ability to easily highlight any potential clashes.

Lee concluded: For me, the value of BIM to the modern-day construction industry is all about cost savings. The ability to detect any potential problems and resolve issues before the job gets to site can make a very real difference, both in terms of time and cost.


Struccie Design Associates’ work on the National Children’s Hospital saw the team win the ‘Public Vote’ category in the 2022 UK Tekla Awards, with people praising the level of complexity and detail involved.


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