Formwork: Harsco Al-Darwish United
Infrastructure specialist Harsco has operating in Qatar for 15 years
CWQ speaks to Chris Valvona, formwork sales manager: Qatar, Harsco Al-Darwish United, about the company’s 15-year history in Qatar
Can you give us a brief rundown of your involvement in the construction industry and Harsco?
I have been in the construction industry for over 25 years, and through my past experience of running my own construction company, I am able to understand our customers’ needs, with insight and understanding of their requirements.
Harsco has roots in construction going back in excess of 300 years, and is a tried-and-tested formwork and access supplier that operates worldwide.
This, in turn, means that at Harsco we can offer value-engineered solutions using the most up-to-date products in the market that are cost-effective and time-efficient.
When did Harsco establish a foothold in Qatar? What main products and services does it offer in that particular market?
The branch in Qatar has been operating for over 15 years, while Harsco itself has been present for more than 30 years in the GCC. We offer the most up-to-date decking and wall formwork systems.
I should also mention that Harsco is the original inventor of the Cuplok system scaffold, which is one of our core products. Harsco is one of the few companies in Qatar that can offer a fabrication service for walls and columns and an installation and removal service for decking systems, as well as contract scaffolding.
How important is the Qatar market to Harsco as a whole? What is your view of growth going forward, particularly with regard to the 2022 World Cup and National Vision 2030?
Qatar is a significantly important country to Harsco, and we continue to have major expansion plans. It is one of the fastest-growing economies in the region, with the highest global GDP per capita.
Year-on-year we are investing millions of dollars in our stockholding in Qatar to ensure that we have the most up-to-date products available in the market.
We believe that we are seeing the lull before the storm with regard to the volume of work that will become available.
What would you say are the main challenges facing Harsco in Qatar?
Unlicensed copycats are one issue that we face. If you purchase cheap unregulated copies, then the likelihood of it lasting for more than one job is remote. Formwork should be viewed as a capital investment, and you should expect it to last for in excess of ten years.
Manufacturing and procurement processes are managed carefully. By purchasing from reputable suppliers, you guarantee future success, since you know that you are purchasing a quality product with reliable aftersales service.
And the main opportunities?
The rail and road network schemes that will be constructed in Qatar over the forthcoming years offer excellent potential to us due to Harsco’s heavy civils background.
We can install the equipment, as well as sell or rent the materials, to the contractors. This is attractive because we can give them a fixed cost for the work even before they start on-site.
By using Harsco’s specialist teams of erectors, erection and dismantling is done faster and more cost-effectively than by non-trained personnel. Clearly this speeds up the construction process and provides greater profitability to the business operations that recognise the benefits of such a service.
Can you mention any of the projects you have worked on to date? Any upcoming projects you can mention?
We have been involved with many prestigious projects in Qatar. Due to the excellent range of products that we have available, we are able to cater for any type of project, from industrial to infrastructure, commercial and residential.
One of the largest was the Al Shaqab Equestrian Centre for the Emir. We supplied the full range of materials and services on this project to the Habtoor Leighton Group, including supply-and-fix scaffolding for the main arena.
We have also worked on the Nakilat shipyard, where we supplied wall and decking systems for the construction of the new dry docks for the LNG tankers at the Ras Laffan refinery. Harsco also supplied material to Hochtief Construction on its first major project in Qatar, which was the 8.5km Barwa Commercial Avenue shopping complex.
We are currently engaged on the new Ministry of Interior project for WCT Behard, where we have supplied in excess of 46,000m2 of decking system.
Any new developments from Harsco for the Qatar market in particular?
We have developed the Lightshore system specifically for the MENA region. This is a lightweight aluminum decking system that can take a load of 11 tonnes a leg. It has already proved a great success in the infrastructure market due to the performance of its high leg load capacity.
Harsco can provide this lighter and faster system, which requires on average only 40% of the materials compared to more traditional systems, which ultimately provides savings in both labour and building materials.
This system can also be used as flying or rolling table forms on building projects, and enables the movement of soffits of up to 70m2 in one operation, providing better returns to customers.
We have recently launched two panel systems in Qatar which come inclusive of plywood; one is for wall formwork and the other is for soffits.
The Manto panel system can be used for walls and columns. The system has been developed to reduce the quantity of skilled labour required on-site.
This means that concrete can be poured within a few hours from the panel system arriving on-site. There are no pour-pressure restrictions up to 3.6m high, so you do not even need to worry about the actual speed at which you pour the concrete.
The Topec panel system is for soffits on building works. The system is simplistic since there are only two major components, namely the prop and the panel.
Compared to other systems, this is light years ahead, and offers a decking solution that can be erected, including plywood, with the phenomenal output of 0.2 man hours per square metre.
We have also developed and introduced a self-climbing formwork system for core and shear walls. This entirely removes craned handling when moving the core formwork from construction level to construction level.
We can place an access scaffold on top of the shuttering system so that the steel fixing of the next floor can be completed in advance, while the shutters are still in place on the floor below.
Qatar is the regional hub for our mast-climbing business, where we have established a mast climber training school. Mast-climbing work platforms remove the need for scaffolding on high-rise buildings for cladding and finishing.
A 30m-long platform can be positioned at any location over the height of the building. It can take a maximum load of three tones, and is suitable for carrying labour and materials. Mast-climbing platforms can also be used in conjunction with our H20 table form system, alleviating the need for a crane during the construction process.
Anything else you would like to add?
A large volume of infrastructure and accommodation will be constructed ahead of the 2022 World Cup. Harsco has been investing heavily in these systems to enable us to meet the expected construction capacity.
These are very exciting times to be in Qatar. We provide world-class products and services, and are dedicated to keeping Qatar a premier operation in Harsco.