Is this the busiest sector in the industry?

New product launches and revamps of existing formwork systems have enabled contractors to achieve quicker floor cycles, reduce labour and keep craneage to a minimum. Zoe Naylor examines some of the innovative methods invented to keep pace with the booming workload across the region.

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By  Zoe Naylor Published  August 5, 2006

|~|133prod200.gif|~||~|The region’s fast-paced construction market means that formwork companies must constantly push the boundaries of innovation in a bid to keep up with ever-tightening project schedules. This means introducing new systems that are safe and easy to use, and fast to erect and dismantle. One noticeable trend within the formwork market is aluminium systems, which are lightweight, quick and easy work with. Dubai-based Aluma Systems has found success in the region with its range of aluminium formwork systems, including its beam, shoring and alumalite truss flying table form. “Since introducing these first three innovations to the Middle East we have seen an enormous demand for these products, and we continue to add at least one new contractor per month to our client base,” says Daniel Taylor, business development manager, Aluma Systems Middle East. The company has just launched its automatic climbing system (ACS) to the market, again with widespread success. The system is a hanging roll-back configuration which incorporates lightweight aluminium core wall shutters suspended from an overhead gantry of rollers. According to Taylor, the advantage of this ACS system is its simplicity and ease of use, which in turn makes it less labour intensive and allows for quicker core cycles. “Due to the use of aluminium throughout the sub-structure and for the formwork panels, the entire system is comparably lighter than other systems, allowing for faster, more cost efficient climbing.” To strip the system, the suspended lightweight panels are pushed back from the core wall via the overhead rollers. Once the forms are released, the hydraulic climbers are engaged and the entire system will climb one floor within four to five hours. “The system was used to achieve three- to four-day cycles by Robodh/Nasa Multiplex on the Burj Residence, and it will be supplied to ALEC/Robodh on the upcoming Dubai Marina Mall, as well as to OGER Dubai for use on its upcoming Churchill twin towers project at Business Bay,” adds Taylor. In addition to the ACS system, Aluma Systems has also introduced its new soffit panel quick-strike system, the aluma dek. Designed to be used in conjunction with external climbing screens, the system comprises 6x2 aluminium panels supported by aluma frame shoring. “It is a quick-strike drop-head system which allows the panels to be removed in two to three days, leaving the aluminium propping in place. This offers the contractor a hugely advantageous system to use alongside external screen systems.” Elsewhere in the region, Austria’s Doka Systems has been providing its formwork systems to the Financial Centre project in Manama, Bahrain — part of the Bahrain Financial Harbour (BFH). By using a range of Doka systems — including various aluminium components — main contractor Al Hamad achieved quick floor cycles on the project and managed to top out earlier this year — 90 days ahead of schedule. The twin towers of the Financial Centre each comprise 53 storeys and are currently the tallest in Bahrain with a height of 260m. Both are designed to accommodate financial services, investment banks, offshore banking units and investment firms. The towers are linked by a nine storey-high Financial Mall housing the Bahrain Stock Exchange, commercial offices and brokerage firms. During construction of the ground floors of the two towers, Al Hamad divided each area into two sections providing a 10m-high entrance area and two mezzanine levels. The contractor then used a combination of Doka d2 and Aluxo support systems for the full 10m height supporting Dokaflex tables. Doka’s aluminium-framed Aluxo system is designed to support flat floor slabs at heights above 4m up to a maximum of 10m. Lightweight, easy and fast to erect, the system features a 40kN-bearing capacity for each leg. Constructed in hot dip galvanised steel, the Doka d2 system allows table formwork to be assembled to a wide variety of units and layouts offering flexibility for the contractor. As construction progressed above the towers’ ground floors, Al Hamad continued to use the Dokaflex slab system and reduced the original eight to 10-day floor cycle to five days. German formwork supplier, Peri, is finding a ready market for its Trio panel system that was launched into the Middle Eastern market earlier this year. “Customers who are using Trio are surprised at the increase in the performance they have due to the system,” says Hans Rau, managing director, Peri. “Though more expensive than regular systems, it will become more popular — Trio is the most successful formwork panel system worldwide.” According to Rau, the system is versatile, strong and fast enough to make it effective for use on all types of concrete structures. Currently it is being used on Dubai’s Jumeirah Lake Towers and DIFC. Meva is another German formwork company that is taking advantage of the Middle East’s growing construction industry. The firm is currently providing its MevaDec panelised slab formwork to the Burj Dubai as the structure races ahead at one level per three days. This flexible slab formwork system allows for early stripping, which not only means saving time but also less material and easier logistics such as being able to move up to the next level without a crane — an essential benefit at extreme heights and in windy conditions. Meva is looking to make further inroads into the region’s construction market by recently forming a joint venture with Sharjah-based KHK Scaffolding Systems. While speed and ease of handling are key to a formwork system’s success, on-site durability is another vital consideration — especially when the systems are being craned many floors up onto high-rise projects. To enhance the robustness of its StarTec wall formwork system, Meva has recently updated the construction of the frame so the cross profiles are now 100% high-tension steel. The improved stability of the system means that rough on-site handling by cranes presents no problem. In addition, StarTec can withstand a higher concrete pressure allowing for a higher rate of placing — there are no limitations on the pouring rate up to 2.7m. Despite the slightly higher weight of 103.2kg (the 270/90cm StarTec Panel previously weighed 84.3kg), Meva says that the system still remains up to 18% lighter than comparable competitor systems. StarTec steel formwork can be combined with Meva’s lightweight, modular AluStar aluminium formwork to provide contractors with a single, flexible and economical system covering all wall formwork requirements. As construction projects become evermore demanding, formwork manufacturers are facing constant pressure to keep up with contractors’ demands for efficient and versatile systems. The result is a range of new product launches (and revamps of existing systems), designed to help contractors achieve the quickest possible floor cycles while reducing labour and craneage to a minimum. And with some of the biggest and boldest construction projects on the planet, the Middle East’s fast-paced market is surely the litmus test for any new formwork system.||**||

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