The COVID-19 pandemic pushed boundaries and forced most people and businesses to the edge, highlighting global interconnectivity at its core. The situation demanded mission critical professionals to collaborate with peers, formulating best practices to harness immediate solutions.

While much of the world retreated to work-from-home scenarios, everyone involved in data center construction were thrust into providing fail-safe solutions to handle heightened global demand. These demands came at the same time as travel restrictions and manufacturing lockdowns, which stressed traditional supply chains even further.

Prevailing experience and respected reputations as trusted partners in practice enabled the Irish mission critical ecosystem to contribute solutions. From design to handover, Irish professionals were called upon to extend innovation via digitalized solutions across digital platforms to realize immediate gains on U.S. projects. Faced with an unprecedented demand and a global supply chain deteriorating in real time, U.S. companies knew they could turn to Irish contractors and manufacturers for reliable support. As a result, multinational corporations in Ireland extended their relationships and reliance on Irish firms, harnessing the support of Irish teams to deliver on reliable capacity, agile innovation, and speed to market.

Interruption Is Not an Option

Despite the ever-changing challenges created during the pandemic, business continuity has remained a paramount, nonnegotiable requirement across projects with zero margin for error, despite a severely impeded supply chain.

The lessons learned were not as much learned as they were swiftly implemented atop decades of preparation and experience by Irish enterprise. It has often been said that the Irish are used to living at the edge, forcing solutions for survival and fostering a culture, education system, and industrial framework of continuous innovation.

Never has that advantage been as evident as when Irish manufacturers and suppliers reacted quickly to provide a quality stream of goods and components to U.S. projects. To facilitate the ease and speed at which Irish and U.S. firms collaborated to address local demand, Enterprise Ireland proactively connected Irish suppliers with additional resources within logistics, freight forwarding, and shipping entities to ensure critical deliveries were received as required.

And when lockdowns prevented travel, Irish contractors responded with remote solutions, utilizing building information modeling (BIM) and digital twins as well as energy and project management technologies — all offering functional solutions and enabling partners to embark and expand their own digital transformation journey.

Why Ireland?

So, why are Irish firms poised to perform and deliver across these critical sectors? Since the early 1990s, the Irish government has directly invested in research and development (R&D) programs facilitating higher education institutions to develop and refine engineering curriculums and prioritize a focus on STEM education, even at the primary levels. There is a highly functioning network of innovation hubs and centers of excellence, which spring from the universities and the local business community, directly supporting engineering; precision manufacturing; and the architecture, engineering, and construction (AEC) community at large. Irish businesses benefit from a well-positioned support network which enables strategic inclinations toward agile innovation, lean manufacturing, and the ability to prioritize and advance the narrative on digitalization and decarbonization. This level of commitment from across public and private ecosystems is the critical differentiator for enabling Ireland to form a comprehensive, engineering-focused foundation, and a workforce primed to deploy and deliver on complex, critical construction efforts worldwide.

Irish firms have a long history and deep connections with multinational corporations. EIDA Solutions is a prime example of one of those firms, with the distinction of leading the charge across several verticals, including pharmaceuticals, life sciences, semiconductors, and data centers. Other Irish firms also rank amongst the world’s top performing AEC companies, like Hanley Energy, a critical power and energy management solutions provider; Combilift, manufacturer of four-directional forklifts and warehouse optimization solutions; Butler Technologies, a leader in supplying technical products and service solutions to telecom and electronic sectors; Fexillon, a digital process innovator for the delivery and management of buildings and infrastructure; Kent Stainless, a design and precision manufacturer of stainless components for industrial facilities; and RKD Architects and the PM Group, both global project delivery leaders in high-tech construction.

These firms all have experience with and understand U.S. market needs through their years of partnership with Intel, AWS, Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Merck, Pfizer, Fujifilm, and other leading multinational corporations.

Leading Through Change

By its very nature, the mission critical space is ever evolving, and the next few years promise to bring many fundamental shifts. While the world is currently very concerned about building enough data centers to meet demand, the focus over the next decade will be to design and develop these facilities — and other industrial facilities across all sectors — to be carbon neutral. Irish industry offers core global players within engineering, construction, and green and renewable energy to provide leading-edge technology, deep wells of experience, and trusted partnership to help make these ambitious goals a reality.

To cope with whatever pressures that may lie ahead, global partnerships must be grounded in responsive strategies that can pivot on a moment’s notice; tap into alternate supply chains; and bring in a workforce with a level of education, skill, and real-world experience to face any challenge. The Irish workforce are uniquely positioned to provide the mission critical solutions the world needs when they are needed most.