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Managing commissioning

by Rajiv Ravindran Pillai on Apr 3, 2017

Padraigh McArdle, director, Commtech Middle East
Padraigh McArdle, director, Commtech Middle East

Commissioning ensures that systems operate as intended and that the building staff can successfully operate a building for several years. The real-world process of designing, installing, commissioning, operating and maintaining an energy-efficient building has created the need for commissioning management. Somebody has to be responsible for a holistic assessment of a building’s mechanical and electrical systems, and one of the leaders in this field is Commtech Middle East.

Commtech brings a long track record of successful projects to the Middle East, with the Commtech Asia Group of companies having been originally established in Asia in 2000, while Commtech UK was formed in 1982. Commtech Middle East possesses the pedigree, experience and highly experienced staff to tackle the most complex projects and building systems across Europe, Asia, Australia and the Middle East. Talking more about the company portfolio is Padraigh McArdle, director at Commtech Middle East. He says: “We are one of the most successful commissioning companies throughout the Middle East, the most successful commissioning company in Asia. We have a diverse track record of completed projects throughout all our regions of operation.

“We started operating in the Middle East in 2012. We operate in Qatar, Jordan, KSA and the UAE. We are a global brand and our experience in the MEP consultancy and commissioning sector stretches over 25 years.”

He says that Commtech’s commissioning processes are tried and tested over the past 25 years. “We have a process, tailored for each stage of a project, that we use to commission buildings dependent on client requirements – from the design stage all the way through to handover,” McArdle says.

“What sets us apart in the market is that we have offices around the world and a wide range of staff with experience and knowledge gained over 25 years of operation. We have expertise in data centres, hospitality, healthcare and retail.

“We have staff who specialise and have gained extensive experience in delivering specific projects, from data centre critical systems to complex healthcare projects with very specific design and specification parameters. We have an adapted process that works for each project design and specification, from data centres to retail, hospitality to healthcare. The processes we use to ensure a successful commissioning stage are specifically designed to ensure and aid in the successful delivery of a project.”

McArdle talks about the eight-stage approach that Commtech adopts in all its commissioning projects. “Those eight stages are the preparation of the project, the design period, pre-construction, construction, commissioning of engineering services, pre-handover, initial occupation, and finally, post-occupancy aftercare for our clients.”

Understanding client needs

McArdle believes a complete understanding of a client’s needs is vital. He says Commtech goes above and beyond to ensure each and every requirement is achieved to the highest standard. “Commissioning is a very planned process. If it is not planned, the process doesn't work. We take the lead for the entire project from the commissioning aspect. We are very transparent to all project parties in every aspect of our approach to commissioning, which is how commissioning should be.

“We’re very hands-on. We believe it is vital to instil complete confidence in our clients. Being the driving force behind the commissioning process, we advise and assist the MEP contractors. If a certain aspect of an installation doesn’t meet the standard, design or specification, we inform all the relevant MEP parties. However, we also give a proactive solution in an effort to reach our collective goal.

“Another reason so many of our clients keep coming back to us is our staff. All of our staff are extremely well qualified in their specific engineering fields and have a passion for commissioning. We have a global but close-knit structure throughout the group, which is globally led by the Commtech group chairman Andrew Kneller.

“Within the international company structure we have a technical forum with representatives from every Commtech office. If there is a technical query which requires a second opinion, any member of Commtech management can log straight on to our technical forum and have access to the opinions of around 20 to 25 experienced mechanical and electrical engineers.

“We are a very open company. We believe the knowledge of our employees is the biggest asset that we have, and we use this to the best of our ability. We sell the best in class. However, we deliver it also. That’s our motto — We Deliver.”

McArdle says that Commtech regularly provides recommendations to its clients with regards to their supply chain for future projects and aids contractors to adapt to its highly successful commissioning approach and processes, which they may not be used to doing on existing projects. “Our services now include project management. We are currently working with leading global suppliers throughout the Middle East; specifically in the UAE being LEED certified we have been approached by a world-renowned supplier to aid them and their customers to become more energy-efficient and reduce the carbon footprint here in the region, to manage the retrospective installation of energy-efficient lights on multiple projects in Dubai,” he adds.

Commissioning culture

“The biggest thing that we found in the Middle East is that both private and public sectors are now seeing the benefits of commissioning. In the past, we have mobilised on a project at a critical stage for a certain pre-determined duration to get the project, whether it be a hospital, government building or data centre, handed over to stakeholders.

“Our clients see the benefit in our services in terms of a successful commissioning process ensuring project delivery and that it is commercially beneficial due to the proactive approach we take during our project commissionability appraisal. We look at the design from a commissionability study point of view. If there is anything inherent in design that will stop a successful commissioning process during critical stages, we highlight any issues in a proactive manner as the cost and time implication is drastically reduced once highlighted during the design period of a project. It’s very important to us that we take this proactive attitude rather than a reactive as we see all too often within the region,” McArdle says.

The commissioning culture in the Middle East, says McArdle, has certainly caught on. “I find now in the Middle East, especially in the UAE, commissioning is now seen as hugely beneficial and valued service rather than a cost expenditure to be endured at the closing stage of a project,” he concludes.