Improving safety standards set to kick off 3M success

Manohar Raghavan, business development manager of 3M Construction Markets (Middle East and Africa) highlights just how the firm is making its mark in the regional construction sector.

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By  Zoe Naylor Published  June 3, 2006

Improving safety standards set to kick off 3M success|~|Raghavan200.jpg|~||~|How long has 3M been in the region?

Around 25 years — we began operations in Lebanon.

What prompted 3M to recently expand its construction division within the region?

3M is a well-known company in terms of consumer products, but we have more than 500 different types of product that go into the construction market — many people don’t know about our activities in this market though.

We identified four or five critical factors for which we wanted a dedicated team to focus on the construction market here.

There is so much going on here in the GCC. We identified Dubai and the rest of the UAE as the primary market, followed by Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. Bahrain, Oman, Jordan and Libya are also emerging markets for us. We wanted to focus on different areas of the market one by one, rather than all in one go.

What type of products does 3M offer the construction market?

We have electrical and telecoms solutions; fire and safety; structure and glazing systems; concrete protection; and corrosion protection.

In terms of concrete protection, we have a traffic-resistant polyurethane coating that can be used to waterproof concrete surfaces such as car parks. By covering the surface with this resilient and tightly bonded skin, waterborne chloride ions can be kept away from steel within the concrete, which helps to avert corrosion and expensive repair costs.

We also have a fusion bond epoxy coating system that can be applied to steel pipes and steel rebar to prevent corrosion.
What are your concrete fibres used for?

In extreme weather conditions such as those found here in the Gulf, the concrete is prone to cracking, so we have a product that can help prevent this. It also increases the strength of the finished product.

The product is a fibre that is put into the concrete premix and is a unique technology to 3M. Its uniqueness is the bundling system: steel fibres are often used in concrete, but corrosion can occur with these steel fibres, so over a period of time, the concrete can crack.

Our system, however, uses polyolefin fibres, which are more like plastic. The product uses a bundling system like a tablet so it disperses equally into the concrete offering uniformity in the mixing. There are a lot of manufacturers making the fibres, but the bundling system is a 3M-patented technology.

Is this fibre system widely used in the region?

Yes, it’s often used on big concrete jobs such as car parks and airport runways.

Are there any new product launches coming up within the construction sector?

We have a structural glazing system in the pipeline called VHB tape. This is a high-bond acrylic foam tape that allows the joining of similar or dissimilar materials. This results in an uninterrupted joint line, saving time as well as the cost of rivets, screws of other mechanical fastening devices.

What does 3M produce within the fire and safety market?

Fire is broken down into four sections: education, active, containment and suppression. We are involved in fire containment systems for buildings.

3M’s fire barrier pillows, for example, are used to firestop a variety of through penetrations including cable trays and conduit openings, which penetrate fire-rated construction.

Blast protection film is another important area for 3M — we have provided this to schools, banks and embassies here. It is also effective in earthquakes as it prevents the glass from shattering. But the film helps to hold the glass together to reduce the chances of glass shards falling out.

Of the construction sectors that 3M is focusing on, which do you anticipate will see the biggest growth within this region?

I think we’ll see a big growth in fire and safety across the whole of the GCC. Historically there have been a lot of fires here in the past, if you look at Saudi Arabia or the emirate of Sharjah, for example — but now there are more fire codes in place and authorities are insisting that fire and safety standards are followed more strictly.

What are your expectations for the firm’s regional growth in the construction market?

3M construction markets will provide regional construction leaders for commercial and residential buildings, airports, power and utilities, roads and bridges, with more than just an interesting product catalogue.

We will give them straightforward solutions to their problems. Irrespective of which aspect of construction they require a solution for, 3M will address and satisfy their needs.
We want to position 3M construction as a solutions provider — we don’t just manufacture products. We can offer a complete solution for a building whether it is for fire and safety, electrical or corrosion protection. ||**||

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