Different projects often rely on similar building methods

MEGA PROJECTS rely on a diverse range of expertise and products to make them happen.

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By  Colin Foreman Published  July 15, 2004

Different projects often rely on similar building methods|~|DHbody.jpg|~|David Heffernan|~|MEGA PROJECTS rely on a diverse range of expertise and products to make them happen. Although many of these products appear completely unrelated, synergies often exist, as the basic principles involved remain the same. Construction Week spoke to David Heffernan, managing director, Emtech/managing director, Septech about how skills adapted for the marine business can be transferred and used in other fields within the construction industry. How is the marine business faring at the moment? The marine business is a huge growth market at the moment. Every single development in the region like the Pearl in Qatar; Amwaj Islands in Bahrain; a number of developments in Saudi Arabia; and our existing projects in Oman have a marina element to them. With all this work our marine divisions are extremely busy at the moment, and I expect there will be a five-year window where this line of business will be particularly busy. People in this region now have a fuller understanding of how the tourist industry works. Because of this they are more focussed on the fact that a marina will add value to their development. It is this realisation that has brought about this new era for the marina business as a whole. What marine experience does the company have? We represent Bellingham Marine, the largest marine company in the world with manufacturing divisions and office throughout America, Australia, and Japan. The advantages with Bellingham are that they have over 50 years experience of floating concrete pontoons and marinas and that obviously give a lot of the architects or developers piece of mind. We have a joint venture technology transfer in the UAE with a purpose built Dhs10 million facility to manufacture all marinas. We also design all the floating pontoon marinas and another product type that is popular here, wave attenuators. Wave attenuators are used instead of traditional rock breakwaters to protect the marina berths. The system works using a unifloat concrete system. Attenuators have been very popular and we are now looking at projects in Oman, Dubai and Saudi Arabia. I think they have been popular because it is a much more economical solution for providing the breakwaters on marinas. How does marine engineering tie in with wastewater? We are a process engineering company so we begin working on a development from the start with clients to so that we understand what their needs are from a wastewater point of view. We then engineer collection and distribution networks for sewerage. One thing that is becoming more popular is vacuum sewerage, which is a great solution for island projects where the water table is high. The Palm will have a vacuum collection network for example. The two Palm islands are obviously flat level ground that has been built in the sea so they can’t have deep sewers. With a vacuum sewerage system deep sewers are not needed, a patented saw tooth arrangement for the piping has also been used to help keep sewer lines shallow. Coming back to marinas, it is often the same client that we dealt with for the sewerage and if a multidiscipline multinational consultant is used, like many of the projects now being undertaken, the consultant will also be the same. The precast concrete division already has expertise in infrastructure development from the designers and engineers and that work in the marina division. Our marina products are precast concrete solutions so the skills used are very similar. The unifloat system for example uses fully encased reinforced concrete floating pontoons. So it is not just the same customers, but also the same technology in many cases so it’s a natural progression. Concrete and cement have been big news recently, how is this division doing? The demand for precast elements is huge at the moment. With every project on a fast track programme, the precast division along with the formwork division, that both fall under the umbrella of Emtech, are extremely busy. Are there any new concrete products starting to come onto the market to help meet these accelerated programmes? One product type that does have a lot of potential is tilt-up concrete panelling. The product has been widely used for over 50 years in America and Canada and it has proven to be a fast and economical way of erecting industrial buildings. The system offers about a 40% saving in programme time. We have introduced the product so that we can offer a complete package for precast elements. Tilt-up can be used for industrial buildings, labour camps, and shopping centres; basically any application up to about three storeys. The product doesn’t require transportation like other precast elements because they are cast horizontally onsite and lifted up to a vertical position and braced. The panels are also loading bearing so just a strip footing is needed. The truss is bolted straight into metallic inserts cast into the precast panels. In Australia 90 to 95% of all industrial building are built with tilt up panels, and in the USA over 75% of industrial are made using this method. There have only been a couple of buildings built so far in the UAE that have used tilt up for their construction. It’s a proven system but it is not really well known with the local design consultants yet. In a market like the UAE, where there are a lot of pre-engineered buildings, construction becomes very easy. It also gives a 10-20% saving on the overall construction costs. Have you supplied any projects in the UAE with tilt up panels? The first project we are really looking at for tilt up buildings is a 152-warehouse development that is part of Nakheel’s International City. What is your seating division? We represent Camatic, which is the largest seating company in the world. Camatic has supplied a great number of major stadium projects around the world including the Olympic Stadium in Atlanta, USA, Benfica Stadium in Portugal. The company is 50-years old and is originally from Australia where it specialises in cinema and stadium seating. Locally we have supplied seating for Cinestar, the Majid Al Futtaim Group, Marina Mall, Deira City Centre, Ajman City Centre and we are currently installing seats at the Dubai Autodrome on Emirates Road. That project involves installing 7000 seats in the grandstand. Is the seating market growing? Very much so. With the focus now on Dubailand and Dubai Sports City in particular, which will have a requirement of something like 60 000 seats alone, I expect the market will continue to grow. Cinemas are another big area with all the new shopping centres that are planned. There will be over 2600 cinema seats required for the Mall of the Emirates in a 10-screen cinema. Seating can also be provided for lecture theatres and schools, airport expansions, and hotels. Another new trend where seating may also be demanded is amphitheatres. A lot of the new residential developments are now looking to have their own public amphitheatres for outdoor entertainment. Likewise, convention centres are another growth area because they require fixed seating, and add-ons like a built in table. Regionally the Asian Games 2006, which will be held in Qatar, is also making a big impact on the regional market. In fact, for the region as a whole there are a lot of stadia being built. Luckily a lot of the international consultants and architects are familiar with Camatic from their offices all around the world. ||**||

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