Supplier spotlight: Fischer
Jayanta Mukherjee, managing director of Fischer FZE, talks about design challenges
This year, German fixing specialist Fischer marks a decade in the Gulf since it opened its fully owned subsidiary in Dubai.
Fischer has grown continuously over the decade and has recently moved to a larger, purpose-built premises in Jebel Ali, Dubai, which now contains a much bigger warehouse and training academy, allowing it to provide better and faster services to its customers.
Middle East managing director Jayanta Mukherjee sees the training centre as a positive step in Fischer’s development in the region.
“The training centre is a real hub for engineering excellence,” he says. “Obviously we have been in the region for a decade now and we want to share our knowledge and expertise with our customers, clients, engineers and the higher education colleges. If you come to our training centre, you will be able to see how all our installations are put together to solve fixing challenges on construction sites.”
Mukherjee is exploring other ways Fischer can knowledge share with the industry and talks about releasing a handbook on case studies of Fischer’s various projects.
“We have lots of case studies which would be of interest to MEP contractors in the market – so we are coming out with a handbook that people can use .We want to reach out to the engineering colleges to give them this handbook of information,” Mukherjee says.
“Fischer has worked hard to educate the Gulf market, especially in terms of safety and technical specifications.
“We are an engineering company, not a trader,” he adds.
With chemical bonds designed to withstand extremely high temperatures, when Fischer conducted seminars in conjunction with regional consultants. Mukherjee and his colleagues were surprised to learn that many of their rivals were basing their maximum temperature specifications on the ambient temperature of the region’s hottest days – up to 48°C. When the mercury hits 46°C, temperatures inside concrete, which absorbs heat, can hit much higher, he explains.
“[Our competitors] were using products that would [turn to] jelly in these high temperatures,” he says. “[Today,] it’s quite well known that you have to look at the concrete temperature, not the ambient temperature.”
As for steel components, selecting the right level of protection is also important. In the case of buildings close to the sea, some engineers just recommend normal galvanisation, according to Mukherjee.
“This will save cost, but if it is near the sea, the galvanisation will not last more than two-to-three years,” he comments. “So, you need at least a hot-dip galvanised product.”
This results in a much longer life for assets in corrosive environments, and in cases, stainless steel can be specified.
“If the correct product is recommended at the outset, you save a lot of money later on,” explains Mukherjee.
Façade fixings represents one of Fischer’s main product groups. The company provides a selection of lines within this segment, such as advanced curtain-wall technique (ACT) for façades. With more than 1,300 articles in its catalogue, Fischer also boasts the widest range of chemical fixings of any manufacturer. In addition, it offers passive fire protection systems, HVAC installation systems, products with solar-related applications, brackets, and also a design calculation software.
Generally, demand for anchors and other fixings in the Gulf is dominated by ‘no-name’ players, according to Mukherjee. However, he says that when a consultant or contractor is working on a high-profile project – where safety and security comes to the fore – and when they require designs and calculations, they tend to look to international brands.
Fischer uses sophisticated software across its product lines to allow for the calculation of loads and variables with much ease, whether for external façades, tunnels’ escape platforms, or HVAC installation. In turn, these technologies allow users to select the correct set of fixing products to meet projects’ specifications.
With municipalities expecting buildings to comply with new earthquake codes, and rigorous fire safety and engineering specifications for infrastructure projects, demand for this type of technical expertise is increasing rapidly.
Fischer’s 15-strong Middle East design department, which is backed up by offices around the world, is working on some of the region’s megaprojects including the Gold, Green and Red lines of Doha Metro and Riyadh Metro.
“The Doha Metro, for example, is being designed using our installation systems for the different stations,” Mukherjee says. “That’s a lot of calculations and designs going on every day.
“We draw from our experience on Dubai Metro in 2006.”
In Kuwait Fischer has won work with the University of Kuwait, and in Dubai, it is working on Al Maktoum International Airport and Marsa Al Seef.
Meanwhile, the company’s SaMontec heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) installation system was used to design a tricky installation in the ceiling of the new Louvre Abu Dhabi.
With a business strategy revolving around innovation and technological development, much of Fischer’s focus is on streamlining factory processes, using lean manufacturing techniques, and the principle of ‘kaizen’, which translates to ‘continuous improvement’.
“The biggest challenge in the industry today is how fast you can finish a project,” Mukherjee says. “So we are working heavily on how we can design or innovate our products so they can be used quicker with minimum instructions.”
With research and development as a cornerstone of Fisher’s business, a plethora of new products will be released in the coming months.
“That’s the beauty of this business – that it grows with what you deliver,” Mukherjee says. “We want to continue to serve our customers to the best of our ability.”