DOKA – On top form

DOKA describes why it remains a supplier of choice in the formwork sector

SPECIAL REPORTS, Sectors

Challenges faced in Qatar’s formwork sector are no different to any other country that is in the throes of an economic slowdown, says Harald Hartung, managing director, Doka, Qatar: “Here in the Middle East, while public spending has become more focused and selective during the slowdown, with the volume of new construction projects dropping off for the foreseeable future, the upside is that we hope that this will lead to improved timing around the announcement of projects, tender releases, tender awards and the start of any project.”

He points out that this will also allow contractors more time for work preparation, including setting more realistic time lines and planning around real sustainability of work methods, investment in equipment and gauging the required workforce with greater accuracy.

“Choosing a workforce, especially during peak-times, is usually done in haste, but with more time to plan more selective recruitment will be possible, as well as improving the availability of a more experienced workforce.

“The same applies for the availability of qualified and experienced construction partners.”

Hartung adds that this ‘breathing space’ puts the company in a better position to assist clients, by using the additional time for knowledge transfer through more frequent training, while affording space to further tailor product and service offerings to clients’ needs.

“This is also an opportunity for increasing safety awareness and demonstrating appropriate and economical solutions,” the executive points out.

There is one challenge common to all market participants however, more so as competition is fierce “and concentrated”, he points out with emphasis: “Some contractors have the undesirable custom of delaying payment, offering a myriad of excuses when a project has been delivered within the contractually agreed time at the mutually agreed cost.

“It is as though they do not realise the negative impact – and cash flow issues – it has on their subcontractors and suppliers.

“If there is one issue I would give first priority to, would be the principle: ‘best service deserves and needs punctual payment’ at all levels and to all parties involved in a construction project.”

Services and products

No matter the size of project, Doka has a formwork solution, Hartung says confidently. “Doka’s product and services portfolio here in the Middle East equals the high international standard of even our European and North-American sister companies.

“During the past decades we have contributed to the successful execution of some of the most amazing structures being executed on a global scale.

“Take Burji Khalifa in Dubai, the development of the Holy Sites in Makkah and Madinah in Saudi Arabia, the Metro Construction Sites in Qatar and Saudi Arabia, the air and seaports in Qatar, Dubai, Oman, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, the manifold infrastructure projects with some amazingly complex bridge structures all over the Middle East and sports stadiums and facilities in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait – just to mention a very few projects.

“To achieve these, we hold individually adaptable large area formwork (Top 50) and different panel formwork systems, from hand-set (Frami, Frami X-Life) for columns and mid-size wall areas, to crane-handled panels for sturdy columns and large wall area forming (Frameco, Framax X-L ife). Doka also has hydraulic climbing systems to erect high core-structures without the need for cranes for forming operations, (SKE in various load ranges), as well as platforms (SCPs), carrying working equipment and the concrete distribution boom.”

The systems include various slab forming systems from individually adaptable ones for smaller buildings (Dokaflex 1-2-4, Dokaflex 20), via modules for mid-size slabs (Dokadeck 20/30) right up to large area table (Dokaflex tables of ~ 20m²) and even truss table forms (>30m²) – “the fastest way of slab forming” he points out.

“We provide tunnel forms, all kinds of bridge-building equipment, heavy-duty scaffolding up to 100 KN leg load and even special HD-support systems with capacities of 800KN/leg, single-side construction frames, etc.

“Just to mention the most common forming systems,” he explains. The challenge is to keep users up-to-date, the executive says and adds: “Not only about developments of formwork hardware but especially about the additional diverse service offerings available to streamline and economise project execution while introducing innovative offerings. Included in this is highlighting the importance of BIM which assists in better formwork planning and provision.

“We also foster the understanding and acceptance of CONCREMOTE – probably the most advanced concrete quality assurance system available,” he stresses.

“We are the preferred supply partner for complex projects of all kinds across all market segments, where not only our formwork systems but also our international experience is sought after. Our main customers are the professional, experienced and matured construction companies, both local and international. As a rule, they know about the value of time,” he adds and continues: “They appreciate the cost-saving of using high quality material of proven durability, which comes with a nearly 360° service package. These professionals realise the value of working with a known brand, and the effort that goes into building strong brand recognition.”

He adds: “However, it does not need much imagination to realise that people being able to successfully contribute to the execution of even the world’s most amazing structures also hold benefits for the building of day-to-day concrete structures – also performed by smaller contractors with less experience.

“In fact, on a world-wide scale our main turnover is generated by so-called ‘ordinary business’, by the significant number of small and mid-size concrete structures everywhere, whether it be a manhole, a culvert, a villa, a country-side school, hospital, police station, etc.

“We cover the entire range of formwork required to ensure that the final concrete form is achieved – no matter how easy or complex the shape. Our support and service level is the same to all clients. The ‘why’ to my believe has several reasons. For the high-end range of concrete structures it is the full scope of our offerings: most modern formwork systems for all structures in all market segments; our extremely flexible business models of purchase; buy-back and rent; our training and service offerings; our local presence and our expertise even beyond mere concrete forming.”

The executive continues: “The many smaller contractors benefit from the material quality, its sturdiness and durability as well as from the fact that all Doka products are engineered for minimum manpower during erection, shifting, striking and transportation, while offering the longest life-span.”

He adds: “This is based in our European roots. In Europe – but increasingly also in many other parts of the world, including the Middle East with the additional costs to basic wages, such as recruitment, flights, visa, accommodation, nutrition, transportation, medical, etc. – manpower is a substantial part of the cost of a construction project. So in this regard, everything needs to be tailored to a minimal workforce. Since our hand-set panel formwork Frami X-Life comes with special built-in plywood that lasts for more than 200 re-uses, smaller contractors especially can invest in a basic set of these panels and enjoy the good ROI simply by saving plywood.”

In closing he says: “While it is difficult to give a fixed figure on market share in the Middle East, if we consider the projects tracked regularly by various sources, looking at the mid- and high-end project volume in all building sectors, we can peg our market share at approximately 35% all over Middle East, with slight deviations in individual markets,” the MD comments and adds in conclusion: “We always strive for ‘being the best local formwork partner’ one can find in the different markets, also here in Qatar and in the Middle East.”

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