Forging links of steel between Scotland and the Middle East

Clearly visible from Emirates Road, the grandstand at Dubai Autodrome is the prominent feature of the Autodrome development. The developers relied on Bone Steel to pre-fabricate and deliver much of the steel structure from Scotland. CW speaks to MD Colin Bone about what the company can offer projects like the Autodrome.

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By  Colin Foreman Published  February 19, 2005

Forging links of steel between Scotland and the Middle East|~|60 Colin Bone Body.jpg|~||~|Clearly visible from Emirates Road, the grandstand at Dubai Autodrome is the prominent feature of the Autodrome development. The developers relied on Bone Steel to pre-fabricate and deliver much of the steel structure from Scotland. CW speaks to MD Colin Bone about what the company can offer projects like the Autodrome.

Is Bone Steel a new company?

No. Alex Bone established the company in 1938, and since then Bone Steel has now grown to become one of the largest fabrication and erection companies in the UK.

What does Bone Steel do?

Bone Steel is recognised as a steel construction company and not just simply as a fabricator, or as an erector, of structural
steelwork. The difference is that we don’t simply provide trailer loads of steel that we can then erect — but instead we provide a comprehensive building package.

What does this comprehensive package include?

When asked by main contractors if we would work with them to reduce the number of interfaces between site trades, we sat down and discussed what was required. As a result we provided additional training to our site managers and increased the number of steelwork related packages undertaken by the company to include the supply and installation of metal decking, pre-cast planks, steel and pre-cast concrete stairs.

When we were asked to consider partnering arrangements with a number of clients, we took stock of what we could contribute and how best we could raise the standards and levels of service required.

Several issues had to be addressed including volume, quantity and continuity. These were resolved by re-locating to, and developing, a state-of-the-art production facility just a short distance from the existing premises. Since re-locating in 1998, we have selectively increased the number of partnerships with a number of clients and main contractors.

What do these partnerships offer?

One of the services available to our partners is the provision of value engineering on selected projects where we utilise the experience and skills in our engineering and technical departments to reduce the weight of structures. We also use the experience of our construction department to make each structure as ‘buildable’ as possible.

Partnering, however, is not only for clients; we have established — and developed — formal partnerships with a number of preferred sub-contractors and key suppliers. These include a long-term relationship with Corus for the supply of steel.

A unique benefit of the Corus Partnership is that four full-time Corus managers are based within our head office with computer links to the various Corus mills and steel stockists.Working closely with Corus, we have developed a just-in-time raw steel delivery system to the works, which has been in operation since 1998.

What are the benefits of off-site fabrication?

Discussions in the early 1990s with several main contractors revealed a number of concerns and problems associated with the on-site application of intumescent coatings. These
included disruption, isolation of areas, overspray, sensitivity to weather conditions and increased timescales to contract programmes. A study on how to overcome the problems led to the invention of a process for applying intumescent coatings to steel within a highly controlled, off-site factory environment.

As a result of this development, Enob Fire was established as a division of Bone Steel (and subsequently as a company in its own right) to harness the potential of, and further develop, the process and to market the skills and expertise in fire coating technology and fire engineering. The off-site application process of intumescent coatings is currently growing annually worldwide by over 20%.

As it is essential not to look at fire engineering or value engineering in isolation, the company has formed a specialist unit to examine the requirements of each structure and to develop the optimum solution and best value for the client.

Why did the company make the decision to work overseas?

When customers asked if we would assist them in construction projects overseas, we did so, time after time — to such an extent that over the years the company has worked on projects in 96 countries. With our new office in Dubai this number is set to increase.

What was your involvement with the Grandstand at Dubai Autodrome?

For the Autodrome, we had the concept frame re-designed by our design partners URS Corporation, who are widely recognised as the premier stadium designer in the world. This re-design provided Union Properties with a lighter structure, yet within the desired concept. With input from the construction team at Bone Steel, a structure — which was easier to erect — was then developed.

The fire protection was then effectively designed out of the structure in collaboration with another of our partners, Safe Fire Engineering, acknowledged specialists in their field. The principles used by Safe were simple and back to basics.
As the structure was open and would be constructed primarily in steel and concrete, there would be limited opportunity for a fire to start. If it did, there is no circumstance under which the heat would be maintained at such a level that it would affect the structural integrity of the steel frame. After computer modelling, Dubai Municipality agreed with the principles. Due to the tight timescales for the Marketing Building and Grandstand, the steelwork for both structures was fabricated in the UK. The steel for the Marketing Building was containerised and shipped to Dubai and a ship was chartered to transport the steel for the Grandstand.

Is the company looking to do further work in Dubai?

With the successful conclusion of our contract at The Autodrome & Business Park, we are looking at a number of projects where we believe we can utilise the skills and expertise available to us.

It is essential that we have as much time as possible to examine the fire characteristics of each structure, which
in turn will allow us to advise our customers where savings can be made.

We have developed local partnerships for the provision
of fabricated steel and will shortly develop an intumescent
coatings plant. With access to Corus stock and mills, and by adhering to our philosophy, we will demonstrate how we make it work.

Why do you think the company been successful in entering the Dubai market?

Because we provide a service tailored to the needs of our customers. We achieve this by doing our homework. We ask our customers, and potential customers alike, what they want from us and, if it is possible, we use the innovative techniques developed by our engineers and project teams together with the specialised skills of our partners to provide what is required.

Is this any different to the way other companies go about their business?

We are different because we think differently. We see every project as a unique challenge on which we can develop innovative solutions using our many years of experience
Our approach is encapsulated in the following statement: “Our philosophy is simple. What matters to you, matters to us. That’s why we believe in building partnerships as well as buildings. By continually building on time and on budget, we also build trust. We continue to take the initiative to improve performance by constantly upgrading our knowledge, skills and technology. This is the platform from which our philosophy and our focus on sustained growth is based.”||**||

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