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Servicing the SAB

Managing a state owned, 33m KWD project is all in a day's work for Robert Wood, general manager of Emcor Facilities Management (Kuwait). Becca Wilson reports.

INTERVIEWS, Facilities Management

Managing a state owned, 33m KWD project is all in a day's work for Robert Wood, general manager of Emcor Facilities Management (Kuwait). Becca Wilson reports.

It's 44 degrees, 5.45am on a Monday morning and the Kuwait State Audit Bureau's (SAB) building management system has suddenly detected a leak coming from a main pipe that feeds into one of the building's Hivar units.

The duty manager is called and on site within 20 minutes. The leak was found, technicians and engineers checked for further leaks, the chiller system was drained and the leak was then isolated so the system could be filled again. Once full, the 19 Hivar units were bled.


The government sector will be the forerunner in green buildings.

By the time facilities management Middle East arrived at 9am to conduct a case study of the building's operations, the incident was under control and the air conditioning was back in full flow.

"The process ran so smoothly because there was a point of call who could then inform the maintenance team what to do, if they were not already aware, coordinate with the onsite supervisor for the clean-up operation and coordinate with the maintenance team," explains Robert Wood, general manager, Emcor Facilities Services, Kuwait.

At around 11am, a report, including images of the leak and its damage, had been produced to give to the client.

"It is all recorded and documented so we can come up with a solution to find out how it happened and how we can rectify it. If it's a fundamental flaw and it is in other units, then we'll have to come up with a new idea to resolve it. All this will happen during the course of the day," adds Wood.

Luckily, for SAB, Emcor has policies and procedures in place to deal with reactive maintenance. Response time is key to damage limitation, as is knowledge of the building and client. And in this particular instance, advanced technological systems played a vital role in altering the FM team to the leak.

While the BMS detected the leak and alerted staff, the computer-aided facilities management (CAFM) system (Concept500, FSI FM Solutions) was used to document the incident.


SAB's BMS was purchased from Honeywell and is used on an integrated, single IP platform along with other critical systems.

"This is the first time in Kuwait that they have come up with this concept of integrating the BMS, CAFM system, fire alarm system, security systems etc.

It's all IP based and everything is reported back to the BMS so any faults that occur, we can react to immediately. We've got people operating it 24/7," explains Wood.

Concept offers Emcor and SAB a platform to generate all the work orders, manage the sub contractors, PPM and reactive maintenance, the calls coming in, emergencies and stock control.

It will also link to PDAs (personal digital assistant), a concept Wood is keen to implement.

"We're going to start using PDA's here shortly which will reduce the paper side of things dramatically. We're just waiting for them to be configured. Once this has been done, they will be rolled out and the technicians will be trained," he confirms.

Due to the nature of its business, the SAB has implemented strict and controlled security and access control.

Wood and his team manage biometric, fingerprint access throughout the building. The biometric, proximity card readers are specifically designed and modified for the project, by Biometrics Canada. Both the cards and fingerprints can be used for access.

"The cards are assigned to the individual and programmed for a particular radius. The name of the individual and civil ID number will be stored on the card. At the moment, visitors carry a card with no special qualities.

In future, it's going to be an active card so we can control their access and monitor where the visitor is," explains Wood.

Documents, laptops and other assets within the building have also been tagged to monitor their movement. Cards will also be used in the car park to monitor usage and ensure employees are using their allocated space.


Emcor has policies and procedures in place to deal with reactive maintenance.

Sensors above each space will be able to detect if employees park in the wrongly allocated car park area.

If they do, this will go back to the management system and security will then inform them they are parking in the wrong space.

In the atrium, infrared sensors have been installed to detect smoke. Due to it being a large open area, there is a high possibility normal smoke detectors wouldn't identify the smoke, so the decision was made to install these advanced detectors.

They are linked to the fire alarm system, which then links to the BMS.

And in true Big Brother style, the audio-visual system is extremely high tech enabling those given access, to tune in to any channel and see what's going on in a particular room within the building.

"All these are linked through a single backbone, which will eventually be directly linked to the fire department and Ministry of Interior.

Right now, we have everything in place but we are waiting for them to upgrade their systems," adds Wood.


Emcor has been involved with SAB since November 2006 on a consultancy basis. Once the development was complete in June 2007, it took over operations and still consults as and when needed.

The 4.9m KWD contract (over three years) gives Emcor management control over the FM and sub-contractors.

"We manage the site for SAB and then outsource some of the services to other contractors. The M&E is contracted to one of the largest M&E companies in Kuwait, Bader Al Mulla and we've got a very good working relationship with them, which is key for the operation of the site," explains Wood.

The soft service side (cleaning and security) is contracted out to Malafi. While the landscaping contract was appointed through Badar Al Mulla and Emcor manages the contract.

Specialist service providers like Trane come to maintain the warranty maintenance services on the chillers to make sure they are working correctly.

As well as the management side of the contract, Emcor is also responsible for the help desk operation, planned maintenance for all contractors, helping to plan the catering services and if there's any alterations to manpower, it advises on changes to be made.

All the sub-contractor invoices go to Emcor, before submitting them to the client.

"We work in conjunction with the SAB team, Adel Al Hasan is the engineering manager and he does a great job," says Wood.

Going green

The SAB is currently undergoing the LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification process. If Emcor and Hasan successfully complete the different phrases, the building will be the first LEED certified one in Kuwait.

"They are expecting the government sector to be the forerunner in green buildings and they are working really hard, Adel and his team are working hard to do that," says Wood.


The technology is IP based and everything reports back to the BMS so we can react immediately.

Energy consumption is a concern in Kuwait due to supply and demand being so close.

The SAB's chiller system was originally controlled on the BMS, but Wood suggested SAB implemented a plant manager to make them more efficient.

"It was costing too much money on the BMS so changing has saved SAB a lot. The Ministry of Electricity and Water (MEW) presented us with an award for saving 40% energy usage over a three month period," he explains.

"Through utilising the plant manager and putting sensors throughout the building, we've zoned up where all the hot spots are. Once you manage your hot spots you can start switching off plant that you don't need."

The building is cooled between 5am and 7am, with the temperature being maintained during working hours (7.30am - 2pm). The temperature is then adjusted to a more environmentally friendly one, reducing energy consumption and cutting costs.

With the largest energy consumer tackled, SAB is now looking at lighting. Wood says lighting sensors will be implemented to help further reduce energy consumption.

Other sustainable initiatives include a move towards a paperless office and a desire to create a more environmentally friendly waste management system. But Wood expresses his concerns about waste being dumped and asks for the government to look into Kuwait's waste management.

"It's fine managing the waste for the building (SAB), but where does it go from there and get dumped? The government needs to look as this," he says.

The SAB is an impressive looking building with a solid facilities management team supporting its operations. But the real drive behind the sustainable building comes from the region's government.

"The SAB did a lot of planning prior to the build and they are, quite rightly, very proud of what they have achieved. Everybody is looking at it to see how it works, it's a new concept and people want to see how the modern technology works.

Good vibes are coming out of it and a lot of people are visiting, including a number of international dignatories," says Wood.

While a lot of money was invested into the building, Wood thinks the government got what it paid for and expects them to receive a return on investment over the life cycle of the building.


State Audit Bureau

Owned by: The government

Construction started: November 2004

Opened: June 2007

Size: 60,000m2

Cost to build: 33m KWD (AED 415m)

Hours of work: 7:30am - 2pm

Number of employees: Currently 700 but the building will eventually hold 1,000

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