Why it’s good to talk in the construction sector

Geir Jensen, general manager, Doka Gulf laments the lack of communication between parties in the construction industry and the need for greater integration in the sector.

Value added facts: Doka Gulf’s Geir Jensen.
Value added facts: Doka Gulf’s Geir Jensen.

Geir Jensen, general manager, Doka Gulf laments the lack of communication between parties in the construction industry and the need for greater integration in the sector.

Design and build contracts are becoming popular in Dubai. Are more contractors involving you in the procurement process and making it more efficient?

For the bigger projects, yes; and the special structures. But for a normal tower, a lot of contractors are experienced enough.

 

Following your work on the Burj, have you noticed an increase in tender offers as a result?

Now with high-rise buildings on the market, in most of the cases, Doka will be one of the companies approached, especially as no one else in the world can claim to have experience operating formwork at such a height.

When it is commented ‘you are the ones on the Burj' it offers confidence. When it comes to high-rise buildings, clients will always contact those with experience.

There has been a lot of talk about building more super hi-rise towers in the region. Have you been approached?

There are talks about buildings over 1,000m high, or maybe more, but we don't know.

Have those involved with Nakheel's Al Burj been in discussion with you?

They have. We are working and studying with a contractor.

Aren't there supposedly five in the planning stages in the region?

Not all of those are in the UAE. There is one coming up which is 1.2km, apparently.

But you are keen to be involved with the Al Burj further down the line?

I think there will be a building higher than the Burj Dubai in Dubai before anywhere else in the Middle East region. They have progressed further than Kuwait and Saudi Arabia.

I had the pleasure of meeting Sheikh Mohammed at a business Iftar during Ramadan. I told him we are topping out the Burj Dubai and needed another high-rise building. Then at the end he told me: ‘There will be another tower'. He didn't say it would be another tower of 300m - but he meant it would be taller than this [Burj Dubai].

With a specific industry sector like yours, where there are only a few key players such as Peri, Meva and RMD, it must be quite an intense market. Do you purposely target specific projects to avoidyour competitors?

It is a daily battle but of course each of us have our main clients, which we try to maintain. To jump and start to find new contractors - and there are a lot of new contractors coming here - isn't worth it. Of course we have competition - we are never alone.

When you are bidding for a contract do you have a flexible approach or are you quite strict with regards to profit margins?

With a company like Doka, with the equipment we have here and the set-up, we can only deal with contractors who are understanding about the value added to the material - they must understand there is a service, which includes office back-up. And more often than not they are seeing the difference.

Is there some conflict between the contractor and formwork supplier?

Basically my message is always: ‘Think about the formwork, the execution of the project'. How can we execute it in the best possible way? You must treat your suppliers as partners - be it concrete suppliers, steel suppliers or formwork suppliers.

You should involve them in the plan, in the execution; bring them on board as partners. At the moment, we are not treated as partners - the contractors act like kings; they are taking the rest to the boat but not bringing them on board.

Why does the power lie with contractors?

There is no latitude. If you go to Europe most have close cooperation between contractors and suppliers, to find the right solution for each and every project. They don't want to cooperate and coordinate - to bring in a team.

We should all work together with the contractor to achieve the best possible cycle time, and hence the shortest possible construction time with as few man hours wasted as possible.

Is this a discussion you always have with consultants?

Not always, but it is getting more important for the bigger towers, since it comes down to logistics and how can we execute it in the best possible way. How do you move the material, and not trap yourself in a corner?

This is becoming more important and we would like to get together to discuss how we can serve the site in the best way. In our technical department, 80% of buildings feature 35 storeys or more.

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