Overcoming Supply Chain Issues

DCD>Talks with Martin Kelly of Kirby Group Engineering on overcoming supply chain issues.

In the latest DCD>Talks interview is now ready to stream or download. In it, DCD’s Emma Brookes talks to Martin Kelly, commercial director at Kirby Group Engineering about the twin challenges of the supply chain and attracting talent to the workforce. Kelly believes that the maelstrom of recent world events had a direct impact on how we think about data center construction. He says:

“The industry has changed its mindset over the last few years. It was a very settled world about five, or six years ago, before we had Covid. That was a game-changer. Then we had, unfortunately, the Ukrainian war, the war in the Middle East. These global events are changing our mindset. I look to clients, there’s a faster-paced approach to building data centers. Design is improving. There’s more efficiency for engineering – adapting to global events shows, we just have to change our minds.”

But, he warns, simply firefighting isn’t enough, we need to be one step ahead:

“The risk and evolving areas of risk have changed from 10 years ago, we wouldn’t have had Covid risk, even Brexit risk, but we have to look at the next risks, now. What’s the next risk with building data centers, who knows? The Suez Canal thing went away. Now, there’s a Red Sea issue. Agility and the ability to adapt are the key.”

Kelly talks about the challenges and opportunities presented by AI, where increased demand for materials, coupled with the meteoric speed of development, have led to fears of supply chain issues.
“AI is new. It reminds me of when the internet started 30 years ago. We’re at the tip of the iceberg and the iceberg is huge. We just need to understand what the project and the client need to manage the pressures and the risks and avoid surprises. It’s a dynamic industry. The technology will shrink. What does that mean, as regards utilities going into a building? That’s a lot of new design. It’s back to risk management and awareness, so communication is key with all stakeholders, designers, clients, and contractors.”

On overcoming the talent shortage, Kelly talks about how Kirby Group Engineering invests in people beyond the traditional skills of the trade:

“We put a huge amount of investment in graduate training, we have training programs, processes, and procedures. Non-construction sectors are something we need to look at, data analytics and AI will come back to attracting those skills into the company. A lot of stuff is data-driven so we need to enhance the traditional quantity surveying, cost management and so on – there’s a lot of change going on in the industry.”

The company is also committed to spotting potential in its people to perpetuate the development and growth cycle:

“We just need to set them up for success and make them good leaders – succession planning is a big part of the process. They can be moved up to the next level of management or beyond. Those soft skills will help them build their teams so they can progress, bringing in our graduates and internships, the wheel keeps turning.”

Another source of new talent is a byproduct of that growth because as you expand into new markets, you can tap into a wider labor pool, and deploy it where it is needed, whilst simultaneously adding value to the employee experience. Kelly says:

“We have almost 50 nationalities in the company. If it’s the right person, if they need to relocate, we’ll support them no matter where they are. It’s a global world, we have to capture it. There are challenges with different locations, but we support them with their families because you get investment back once you get people and make sure they’re happy. Our HR team works hard to get the right people for the job. People are our number one core value, it’s part of our job to make them feel happy. If they’re happy, the company benefits, and ultimately our client benefits too.”

To watch the full DCD>Talks interview, click here.

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Martin Kelly, Commercial Director - Operations
Martin Kelly, Commercial Director - Operations
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