UL-hosted Confirm to break ground on bespoke new €3.1m Park Point headquarters

University of Limerick President Dr Des Fitzgerald with Professor Conor McCarthy of UL, CONFIRM Director and Co-PI

CONFIRM, the world-leading SFI research centre in Smart Manufacturing hosted by University of Limerick, is to break ground on its bespoke new €3.1m headquarters at Park Point.

With a tender process now concluded, CONFIRM will commence building works at its new headquarters, a bespoke 1619 m2 facility based in Park Point, adjacent to UL.

The build of the new headquarters will see a design team consisting of 12 people and 40 builders and construction managers, depending on stage of build, employed to create a centre of excellence for Smart Manufacturing, facilitating a community of practice between researchers, industry and the general public.

The headquarters will be a fit for purpose facility that will host 70 research, 12 operational and management staff, resident and visiting investigators from CONFIRM’s 9 national research partners, international collaborators, industry partners, as well as test-bed and prototype facilities.

UL President Dr Des Fitzgerald visited the site to mark the commencement of work and said: “This is an exciting development for UL and CONFIRM and the creation of a bespoke research facility that is a world leader speaks to the importance of smart manufacturing in this country.

“UL has forged a longstanding reputation for industry-informed education and that is why our university has been a natural home for CONFIRM since its launch.

“Smart manufacturing is an area where this country can offer real, world-class expertise. As long as we continue to combine disruptive academic research with meaningful industrial partnerships, we can put Ireland in the driving seat of this new era of Industry 4.0.

“We are especially proud to host CONFIRM at UL’s Park Point site and see the realisation of these development plans as it will consolidate the research work, attract new international talent, and ensure a dynamic transfer of innovation between the lab and the factory floor,” Dr Fitzgerald said.

With the manufacturing sector the second largest employer in Ireland, it is crucial that Ireland is at the forefront of the fourth industrial revolution with world-leading Smart Manufacturing practices.

The construction of the CONFIRM Park Point headquarters will enable this by becoming the centrepiece of a new community of practice where researchers and industry can come together to transform manufacturing as well as providing an innovative new space where the general public, including schools, can gain awareness of research and developments in the manufacturing industry. CONFIRM HQ will become a facility to futureproof Ireland so that it is best placed to adapt and thrive in Industry 4.0.

Professor Conor McCarthy of UL, CONFIRM Director and Co-Principal Investigator, said: “We are delighted to begin construction on our central headquarters, which will be a national facility to enable Irish and international industry to research cyber-physical manufacturing systems.

“Such systems create the overarching technology that enables mass customisation of discrete products, such as personalised medical devices, all the way to bespoke and customer-specific utility products. Our centre is located at the gates of Limerick City and adjacent to the UL campus and provides easy access from the M7 motorway, thus providing an ideal platform for our researchers, industry partners, collaborators, government agencies and the general public to come together and help Ireland maintains a leading position worldwide for discrete manufacturing of high-quality products.

“Our centre design has emerged as best in class from a year long study of best practice in manufacturing and innovation research centres globally.”

Bill O’Leary, CONFIRM General Manager, said: “The new CONFIRM Park Point development is a tangible and timely statement of intent. From regional and national perspectives this truly exciting development will build a density of competency and has the potential, with others, to aid the fundamental transformation of all sectors and sizes of Irish manufacturing to the world-class status from an Industry 4.0 perspective.”

Dr Eoin O’Connell, CONFIRM Digital Design Lead, added: “To have a world-leading research facility will be a game-changer for the region and the country, it is exciting to think that CONFIRM will now have a state of the art facility for engagement with industry and academia that will drive the future of Smart Manufacturing for the coming decades.”

With KBOW as Architects and Monami Construction commencing the retrofit in the coming weeks, it is anticipated that occupancy will initiate in mid-February 2020 with the onset of operations 6-8 weeks thereafter).

Dr Fitzgerald and Prof McCarthy with the Confirm team Pictures: Alan Place