Partnership in Focus – Structural Engineering modular build specialists Atom Consultants

One of the UK’s leading owner-operated engineering practices offers insights into how they work with clients from project conception to reality

As one of the UK’s largest and leading high-volume insulated panel manufacturers, Hemsec works with a number of supply chain partners: companies who share both our values and our passion for excellence in construction.

Atom Consultants are Chartered Structural Engineers and have been working with Hemsec since 2005. The firm has a wealth of expertise in the modular and semi-modular construction sector, successfully positioning themselves as project management and engineering partners for the construction of schools, commercial and industrial properties as well as for residential projects.

Benefits of SIPs and their structural properties

Informing clients of the benefits of Structurally Insulated Panels (SIPs) compared to traditional construction methods such as brickwork is an important first step. Understanding and interpreting the structural properties is crucial, too. Because Atom has in-depth knowledge of projects constructed with SIPs, including how they are designed and coordinated, they use this level of understanding to help develop their partnership with Hemsec.

Atom uses SIPs because they offer a number of benefits in construction: reduced operational costs, energy efficiency, and a quicker build timeframe as well as a reliable and effective build process. Whilst the initial financial layout for a SIPs project may be slightly higher, this is offset by superb thermal performance and longer-term cost savings. Although SIPs are becoming more widely used, there is still a long way to go, and communicating these benefits to architects, surveyors and project commissioners remains of crucial importance.  

The Atom team provides independent advice on the structural performance of SIPs in compliance with Building Regulations requirements. They apply their knowledge and expertise of the MMC environment to the particular demands of a SIPs project. This includes advising on the approximate SIPs area plan, specific material quantities, spans and panel thickness to handle various loading requirements.

Using Building Information Modelling (BIM) helps reduce project costs by around 20%

The company uses Building Information Modelling (BIM) extensively for projects, to achieve maximum efficiency in the material scheduling of components; typically, using BIM techniques will achieve a 20% reduction in costs in the construction and operation of new buildings.  

Another benefit of BIM is that it is effective in the coordination of structural frames and other architectural requirements.

Atom says it’s critical to ensure the work on-site and off-site is progressed at the appropriate pace, from the initial laying of the foundations on-site, the manufacture of the SIPs off-site and through to the final delivery.

Atom & Hemsec: a formidable partnership

Atom Consultants provide a service from the initial conception stage right through to completion, possessing skills, expertise, and experience in the MMC sector. Their understanding of the benefits and application of SIPs combined with 15 years+ know-how from working with Hemsec is hugely valuable in a market that is still learning about Structural Insulated Panels.

Example Projects

3D Visual of SIPs build Castle Rock School in Leicestershire

Castle Rock High School, Leicester

The project had the objective of delivering sustainable structural timber building systems. Additional objectives were to make the design visually appealing and protect biodiversity, both of which were achieved. 9000 m2 of SIPS were used, reducing the original programme from 17 weeks to 7 weeks for the whole roof. This includes all trimmers for roof lights within the SIPS.

3D Visual of modular build Marriott and Lonsdale School in Hertfordshire

Marriott and Lonsdale School, Hertfordshire

Hemsec SIPS were chosen as part of the Balfour Beatty system build schools solution delivered as part of this school’s regeneration programme. Large Format external wall modules were manufactured off-site and installed to a rapid delivery programme for the new education wings being added to this school. The use of SIPS created a rapid dry envelope which allowed early access for the finishing trades while the external brick elevations were still under being installed.

Atom Consultants logo - partnerships with Hemsec


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