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A tall tale

A visit to Dubai?s 90-floor 23 Marina

The 23 Marina Tower is the world's second tallest residential tower after Dubai?s Princess Tower, located on the same block.
The 23 Marina Tower is the world's second tallest residential tower after Dubai?s Princess Tower, located on the same block.
Duserve FM won the bid for the 393 metre tall 23 Marina tower based on its site references and best practice methodologies.
Duserve FM won the bid for the 393 metre tall 23 Marina tower based on its site references and best practice methodologies.

At 393 metres tall, the 23 Marina tower in Dubai, proudly stands as the second tallest residential tower in the world.

Built by the Hiranandani Group based in Mumbai, India, less than 20 metres stand between this beauty and Princess tower, the world’s tallest-residential, located in the same block in Dubai Marina.

Three, roof-level penthouses, offer a panoramic view of the emirate, and a direct view of Princess’s crown, along with the roofs of the surrounding towers on the world’s tallest residential block. Daunting to most, there’s no room for fear on the FM team that has just secured the contract.

Duserve FM was awarded a year-long contract for the entire integrated FM offering in the building from MEP, to cleaning, to lifeguard provisions, reception/concierge staff, internal cleaning and the facade cleaning and glass cleaning services.
“We then won the bid based on our site references and best practice methodology,” says Jennifer Peltenburg, senior manager, business development, oozing with pride.

Class-A project
And rightly so. Designed by architects KEO International Consultants, the 90-floor residential tower block screams class. From the gypsum boards cleverly-used as a wall-cover; to the 54 pools within it, each element of the project has been built to target a high-end audience. The block comprises 288 two-bed and three-bed apartments and four-bed duplex apartments.

Each of the 48 duplex apartments is equipped with its own private elevator and plunge pool, taking the total elevator count in the building to 62. Travelling in one of the three high speed elevators, which moves at 480m/per minute, you feel your ears pop four times. Minimum. The high-steel pineal erected from the roof, is 64m tall alone.

But Duserve FM is aware that there will undoubtedly be challenges associated with maintaining such a high-profile project. While the company, which has offered FM services to the external market since 2008, has dealt with numerous projects demanding a 5-star service, this one is different.

“This is Hiranandani’s flagship project for Dubai. From that perspective, it is important that we share their desire of delivering absolute quality to the Dubai market.

Unique building, unique challenges
“In addition, we need to present a service that is as unique as the amenities found in the building. As well as the technology being advanced and one-of-a-kind, you have elements such as a running track surrounding the building; something you might not necessarily find in your average residential tower,” explains Peltenburg.

And once fully handed over, there will be no room for mistakes, with the owner himself living in the building’s penthouse, overseeing delivery.

“We mobilised the project slightly differently, opting for a phased-in approach,” explains Ehab Al Najjar, head of MEP.

“At present, we have brought in minimum staff for snagging and familiarisation purposes. The team consists of an MEP co-ordinator, a BMS operator, an electrician, a plumber and one technician for the HVAC system, which works a little differently compared to district cooling, more commonly found in buildings we deal with. This building has its own chillers and cooling towers on the roof. It’s more challenging in terms of maintenance and ensuring the system operates effectively.”

Right man for the job
Duserve FM was established in 2006, at which time, it was intended to support Dubai World Central which hosts the new Al Maktoum Airport. In 2008, it branched out, offering its services to the wider market, though still a combined effort with DWC. The service provider now has 40 projects under its belt and a wealth of experience in a wide portfolio of projects.

Though the idea of smart building is not as prevalent in the residential sector, Al Najjar says there is no reason it shouldn’t be.

“On this project, the BMS is linked to the HVAC and electrical but the CCTV and access control is not associated. There’s no reason, going forward it couldn’t be integrated. We have the experience from our project on DWC to be able to advise on this. Having a central monitoring system with just one person monitoring all the systems from one point would help in lowering manpower and system optimisation,” says Al Najjar.

But for now, manpower is important. Once fully handed over, the building will see over 42 Duserve FM staff come online and the company hopes to launch its home maintenance services in the building too.

“At the moment, Duserve is responsible for the management of maintaining the four common area pools,” says Fahad Mohamed, account manager. “A sub-contractor will be appointed to maintain the pools located within the duplex apartments. Once handed over, the residents have the option to appoint us to clean and maintain the pools,”

“This sort of service maintains the integrity of the building. Rather than various contractors and suppliers coming in with different spare parts for the AC for example, you are getting one company that knows the building inside out, offering a streamlined service. The quality and thus the integrity is maintained,” says Peltenburg.

“There is a growing demand for this from developers and owners associations coming on board. From a health and safety point of view, you’ve also got the risks associated with using a lower quality part. So we are really trying to boost that service in line with educating people on what is important in the long run,” she adds.

And education is key. In a super-tall tower, challenges are magnified. Duserve FM focuses on PPM to minimise breakdowns. The team works closely with the suppliers and current maintenance contractors while the equipment in the building is still under defect liability period (DLP).

Early involvement
“The biggest benefit of being engaged during the commissioning stages is that our team is getting trained alongside the contractors. If breakdowns occur, we can identify them at those stages instead of trying to rectify them later in the project,” says Mohamed.
And the team is prepared for the growing challenges as occupancy rises.

“As an ISO 9001, 14001 and OHSAS 18001 accredited organisation, a big part of our profile is training. The demand for good customer service is growing. The challenge is ensuring that our staff take the initiative and look at everything from hospitality point of view. It is being able to show-off that they can. The demand from the owner and tenants is that they will be looking for that quality,” says Peltenburg.

“It’s not just about a one-off training session. Challenges will only be overcome if we operate a continual coaching exercise,” she adds. “You’ll have different cultures in here and different levels of people so it will be very important to maintain that quality from a staff perspective.

Future
“There will be issues which is why we are here early on. It is why the developer wanted us here, to ensure we are writing down all the snags and being more proactive instead of just doing the reactive maintenance.”

The future for Duserve FM certainly looks bright. The company recently took steps into the other emirates, rolling out its Duserve at Home project in Abu Dhabi, Fujairah and Al Ain. With a focus on MEP services, it has also launched MEP Light, a package for small and medium budget companies that don’t require an entire team or a full time contracts, allowing them to tap into an on-call service.

After renewing a contract with Mag 218, it is in talks with towers in Jumeirah Lakes Towers, Dubai and towers in Business Bay, Dubai. The company has also secured its first project in Abu Dhabi, whose name remains undisclosed at this point.

“It is a prestigious commercial project, unique to other buildings in the region and considered very green, says Al Najjar.

“I think it is quite an exciting time for Duserve FM this year,” says Peltenburg. “It’s taken much work and perseverance. However, it’s great that we are finally able to show our quality which is getting us on the map,” she concludes.

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