Steeled for action

CW Qatar talks to three of the country's leading MEP figures

ANALYSIS, MEP, Projects

Construction Week Qatar talks to three of the country’s leading MEP figures to get an idea of the issues shaping the industry

Christopher Rodia
Chief operating officer, Irinatech

Collaboration between MEP companies in Qatar
“I think given the types of projects and their concurrent nature of them, you’re going to see a lot more MEP companies partnering together and approaching the projects as a consortium. Typically, you see main contractors forming consortiums, but I think in this instance you’ll see sub-contractors forming consortiums and going together, complementing each other’s skills.

It’s about sharing the risk and rewards, and the scale of these projects mean that they are too large for even some the biggest MEP contractors. That’s where there are new opportunities for companies outside of Qatar to partner with local companies, as well.

“Local companies that are active in the market are going to have to be very open with each other and in dialogue, about issues such as visas and securing the necessary number of workers. That collaboration will mean that if one company has a certain number of people coming off a project, then another company can benefit from them and use them in a partnership arrangement.”

The use of Building information Modelling (BIM)
“We are taking the first steps to having BIM on all our projects where there is the appropriate scale, even in the case where the client hasn’t specifically asked for it. It is the natural evolution for MEP contracting and we feel that it’s going to save so much time and co-ordination. We are already pushing it internally as we have seen the benefits on projects where we’ve used it, and it’s got to continue for the long-term.”

Road and drainage contracts
“Given the projects we’ve worked on before, the local roads and drainage programme and the Ashghal expressways seem like a natural fit for us. A lot of the more glamorous projects, such as Lusail, the stadiums for the World Cup, and the Metro are critical packages of work. But I think the roads can be overlooked and it is going to be the backbone to everything else that is going on. It’s a really crucial package of work and perhaps it doesn’t get the coverage that some other projects do.”

Vasanth Kumar
Group CEO, Arabian MEP Contracting

Procuring new talent
“Securing the right work visas has been a stumbling block for several years and it seriously limits a contractor’s ability to undertake challenging projects. It is a well known fact that high-quality projects can be built only with highly-skilled and experienced tradesmen – there is no other way of working. In order to achieve such a goal, granting visas of contractor’s choice would greatly benefit the construction industry as a whole.

“Because timeframes on projects are tight, many contractors have established their own in-house training centres to train new recruits. However, this may not deliver the right results, as challenging projects require seasoned tradesmen with several years of field experience in similar kinds of projects.”

The use of MEP in stadiums and the Doha Metro
“It is widely expected that we will soon see construction bid packages released for tendering for MEP on the larger stadiums, and there is a lot of interest amongst MEP contractors. We have already established JV partnership with an international MEP company with expertise in large stadiums. We hope to secure couple of stadium projects.

“MEP contractors are also eagerly awaiting for MEP tenders to be released for bidding on the Metro. We understand that MEP design is currently underway as part of main contractors’ design and build responsibility. In addition to the Metro, there is also Light Rail Transit system and other long distance rail projects , so there exists a massive scope of Rail MEP works to be carried out in a limited timeframe.”

The risks of tight margins
“The volume of projects being awarded has improved, but the pace is slower than expected, which has put pressure on contractors. As a result, far too many main contractors are taking projects with zero or negative margins, which is putting a severe strain on the sector's supply chain.

“Unfortunately, many people fail to understand or ignore the fact that MEP is a specialised field and there can be no compromises when it comes to quality, reliability, safety and performance.”

Ahmed Mamdouh
MEP projects manager, Commodore Qatar Contracting

Value engineering
“I think that since the economic crisis hit, there are more competitors in the field of MEP, which means more companies are competing for the work. Clients want to work with companies that have the financial strength and capabilities, as well as the technical capabilities, and yet the margins are still very tight. We’ve tried to overcome tight margins by concentrating more on our manpower, controlling the design, and by utilising valuable engineering.

“By that I mean we can offer alternative ideas to the client where the function will be the same and so will the quality, but with less cost involved. When you have tight margins, you also have to ensure that you have the necessary amount of technical expertise within your company, which I believe we have. That enables the company to minimise the errors, and means can rely on the execution of the work.”

Green building regulations
“I think the green building regulations have given us a bit of a push to try to think differently and we view them positively at Commodore.

"It has been beneficial for the industry I think and the engineers are actually thankful about the regulations because it forces them to think of ways to fulfill the criteria of the new regulations and how to meet them. The regulations are unconventional and to meet them you either have to outlay a lot of money or you come up with different ideas.”

"There can be the potential for hold-ups becuase of green building regulations. But if a company has local experience then that sort of problem can be overcome."

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