Site visit: Princess Tower

fmME discovers how Emrill will manage the tallest residential building

Taller than the rest Dominating the Dubai Marina skyline.
Taller than the rest Dominating the Dubai Marina skyline.

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In 2012, the 414m-high Princess Tower was recognised as the ‘World’s Tallest Residential Building’ by the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH), and the Guinness World Records (GWR).

Occupying a land area of 37,410 square feet, the building has 107 floors (consisting of six basements, ground floor, and 100 above ground) — operating and maintaining this imposing structure is no mean task.

After a tender process, Emrill Services was selected as being equal to the challenge by the developer Tameer and Kingfield Owner’s Association to provide FM services which include MEP, housekeeping, concierge, security, lifeguards and helpdesk facilities.

Jan Heumueller, asset manager, Tameer, explains the process of choosing a facilities management company for the record-breaking tower.

“When we were close to completing the project, we looked into which company should be appointed for the facilities management. We knew it had to be a company that directly provided all services.

During the tender process, you find out very quickly that there are only a handful of companies in the UAE that have the ability to run the second tallest tower in Dubai,” he explains.

“We knew Emrill had been in the market for a long time. We felt that with them, we would be able to deliver a product that would make our customers happy. What we do is create a community and deliver a product that gives people what they have paid for,” he says.

Heumueller adds emphatically: “Why did we choose them? We trust them. We have seen Emrill doing a great job in other developments all around Dubai. We evaluated them and they came out at the top. Sitting here today I can only say they have delivered what they had promised and there’s no regret on that decision.”

Emrill’s Lynne Wylie is the facilities manager for the tall building. Wylie outlines what her job entails: “Essentially we provide all the integrated facilities management services for Princess Tower on behalf of Tameer, the developer.

We also work very closely alongside Kingfield — the owners' association management company — which has a representative building manager on-site.”

Emrill Services self-delivers its offerings. Wylie is proud as she states: “All of our staff members are trained in-house at our Centre of Excellence. We provide the technical staff, the MEP staff, the concierge, the housekeeping, the lifeguards and the security guards.”

She credits Emrill’s Centre of Excellence, which provides all the training for the staff before they arrive on-site.

While Wylie is not free to divulge the exact number of employees assigned to the tower, she says it is “a large team based here 24/7, 365 days of the year.” Right now, tenants are slowly moving into the building, and Wylie’s current role is ensuring all the members of her team are geared up to receive them.

She asserts the importance of selecting the right employees for the job, with Emrill being on-site since July 2012. “In the mobilisation period, we had to ensure that our staff were well-trained before they arrived here.

The Centre of Excellence was key because they trained our staff thoroughly before the deployment process. Staff underwent an orientation, and we made sure they understood the requirements of the premises.

Our mobilisation team worked closely together with them, and with HR, to ensure we recruited the right staff for the site.”

Heumueller says while the mobilisation time was very short and intense, it was “fantastic.” He proudly says when the first customer walked into the tower to collect his keys, the Emrill concierge was already there, waiting to receive tenants, which impressed those arriving for the handover.

“That’s what it was all about, that’s why we chose Emrill and that’s why they are still here.”

While every service Emrill provides the tower is important, Wylie highlights how the concierge is differentiated. “The concierge is here to assist in terms of move-ins, but they also go over and above that.

The tenants can ask them anything — in terms of car hire companies, local restaurants, postal services, couriers, even to the lengths that they’re able to advise on the price of a ticket to visit the Burj Khalifa.

They’re assisting people, and get to know the tenants very closely on a name basis as well; that’s something we pride ourselves on. It’s just a little added extra we provide.”

Behind-the-scenes, Wylie’s team works continuously to improve themselves. Using an online auditing system called eManage, the company uses its results to indicate which areas need attention, and deploy resources where most needed.

It will also play a major role when all the tenants move in, to help monitor the site.

“We’re able to constantly monitor what we’re doing and that can be used by Tameer, or by Kingfield. They can check our SLAs, to know that we are carrying out our jobs as we should be and that’s also used by our management in-house.

We’re constantly monitoring and finding ways we can improve, and identifying what we’re doing well to use that across other projects too.”

Wylie also says the eManage system allows the FM team to track its PPMs, reactive works and call performances.

Heumueller adds that while tenants will not have access to the eManage system, it allows for improvements from a management level.

In addition, the FM firm employs a “Don’t Walk By” programme that lets it monitor the health and safety of the site.

Employees are encouraged not only to report faults, but also everything that is working well on the project.
This improves the way operations are carried out and helps establish best practices for the team, according to Wylie.

Audits are another way to feed in to the continuous improvement programme. “We encourage staff to report whenever best practice is being implemented on a day-to-day basis. That’s very important as well,” adds Wylie.

She isn’t nervous to take on such a high-profile project. “Emrill have been going 10 years and we employ over 4,000 staff so we know what we’re doing at this stage.

“I feel very privileged that I’m based here in Princess Tower. It is a challenge, but it is also really enjoyable because no day is ever the same. There’s always something different going on, there are always challenges, and we continue to make sure that our teams are all doing their jobs to the best of their ability.

“I love how Emrill is constantly putting more and more into the staff training; it is not that staff just get placed in the building and are left alone. The training is continuous throughout the year.

We view the staff training records and make sure they are always up-to-date,” says Wylie.

She muses on the perceived pressure of her role: “This is what we do day-in and day-out across all our projects, so I wouldn’t say we are pressured at all. This is our job, it’s what we do. We know what we are doing and it is enjoyable.”

Fact attack
More about the Princess
- The tower has six service floors — situated on the 24th, 52nd, 79th, 98th, 99th and 100th floors.
- It has three chillers, and three water cooling towers. The technical design is such that one chiller can run the entire building.
- The cooling towers are hidden on the roof under the Princess’ dome, which weighs 110 tons, and is fabricated from steel and aluminium.

Key info - Princess Tower
Client: Tameer Holding Investment
FM firm: Emrill Services
OAM: Kingfield Owner’s Association
Height: 414m
Floors: 107
Apartments: 763
Car parking spaces: 957

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