fmME Site Visit: Souq Al Jubail, UAE

fmME examines Saned FM’s integrated FM programme at Souq Al Jubail in Sharjah

Intensive integration: SQAJ’s fish auction is attended by bulk purchase consumers and restaurant and fish traders.
Intensive integration: SQAJ’s fish auction is attended by bulk purchase consumers and restaurant and fish traders.

Sharjah’s construction and property development sectors have been busy since 2015, and similar upward activity is expected to continue in the emirate after up to 30% of its 2017 budget was allocated for infrastructure development.

Part of Sharjah’s long-term property development plans is Souq Al Jubail (SQAJ), a Sharjah Asset Management (SAM) development worth $54.4m (AED200m). Spanning 3.71ha (400,000 sqf), the project was unveiled in December 2015 by SAM – Sharjah Government’s investment arm – and is managed on self-delivery basis by a team under SAM.

SQAJ comprises three dedicated sections for fresh fish, meat, and fruits and vegetables. Up to 67 fresh meat and poultry shops and 212 fruit and vegetable shops are located within the complex. The fish zone, supervised by SQAJ’s central management, trades at regulated prices and has been equipped with cleaning and cutting tools by the operational team.

Keeping with Sharjah’s longstanding tradition of fish auctions, an arena between the fish and the fruit and vegetable sections is dedicated to the event.

SAM entered a joint venture (JV) with FM service provider Apleona – formerly known as Bilfinger Facility Management and Building Services – in October 2016. The newly formed JV has been named Saned FM, which reports to Saeed Al Suwaidi, section head – facility management at SAM.

Ali Al Suwaidi, director of SQAJ, tells fmME that self-delivery was the mode of choice for the facility’s team due to its commercial requirements: “Using Saned’s team and [my experience] as an FM professional, we have drawn up an overall strategy to provide excellent services at SQAJ.

“Self-delivery was chosen because the biggest market challenge is stakeholder management. A lot of companies win integrated FM (IFM) contracts but when questioned about their performance, will claim certain elements are not in their scope.

“We’ve included FM as a layer of our overall strategy and ensured that our FM programme is linked to our organisational programme. Communication flows to all stakeholders – end users, tenants, and service providers – and we ensure that all delivery gaps are closed,” he adds.

“People often talk about total FM (TFM) and IFM – these concepts are not just about providing all services, but integrating them all and making it an effective and efficient operation. That’s how IFM should ideally be.”

SQAJ opened to the public on 18 December, 2015, and A Suwaidi says the facility’s team has “worked closely with service providers [to] link what they do with what the operational team does”.

For instance, since the market is busiest on Fridays, the focus on cleaning services is calibrated towards specific zones on the day, such as fish cutting areas and walkways. A Suwaidi says that while FM optimisation is a “continuous process” for the team, initial feedback from customers about SQAJ’s facilities and cleanliness levels is positive: “They notice how hygienic it is and how it doesn’t smell like other fish markets.”

Save for Eid days, SQAJ operates between 6.30am and 11pm every day, with the daily fish auction scheduled to follow the Asr prayers. A Suwaidi says that while “you smell the fresh fish during the auction”, ventilation is switched to 100% fresh air for the duration, leading the odour to gradually disperse.

“In comparison, even entering some fish markets can be difficult, but there are no odours here,” A Suwaidi adds.

“We work very closely with our stakeholders. FM is an added advantage for our success – not a cost burden like some often [worry].”

Security services at SQAJ are provided by Securitas, with Sharjah-based NCE implementing the cleaning programme. The latter’s scope includes the facility’s common areas, produce zones, and all internal and external cleaning work under the direct management of Saned FM.

The complex’s zones are lined with grilles to ensure disposal of all mopped material, significantly aiding the cleaning process – especially in the fish zone, where water spillage and mopping are more frequent.

Drainage systems have also been installed across the market, and Factory Cat’s GTX Rider Floor Scrubber-Dryers are prominent across the fish auction arena, which is frequented by bulk purchase consumers, as well as restaurant and fish traders.

S Suwaidi says: “This is a fresh produce market, which means it gets dirty quickly since the products are fast-moving. Fish cleaning can be even more difficult, so you need to ensure the facility’s hygiene element is in order.”

A Suwaidi says the complex’s odour management and cleaning requirements have been communicated to all stakeholders operating at the facility.

He continues: “For instance, if an area has some odour or if you spot a drop of blood – which is normal because this is a fresh products market – the security guards or tenants don’t need to wait for a cleaning operator to notice it; instead, they will report it to the nearest cleaning operator. This reporting system ensures we have an integrated cycle between all our service providers.”

Heating, ventilation, air-conditioning (HVAC), and air quality services are managed by Saned under the self-delivery model. S Suwaidi says Saned’s team collaborates with providers and manufacturers of equipment – such as chilled water systems – to boost its preventive maintenance programmes for these units. Energy management work is currently implemented manually, but this is set to change soon.

A Suwaidi explains: “We monitor our energy meters continuously and use operation timings to optimise the equipment. For instance, we switch off fresh air at night because we don’t need it at that time. So we’ll start fresh air between 2pm and 6pm because that’s the window for the fish auction, but you don’t need 100% fresh air after that. We minimise the exchange of humidity and heat, especially in the summer.”

“People think energy is a fixed cost, but we believe it’s a variable cost.”

A critical activity at SQAJ is energy consumption measurement, which is carried out on a monthly basis. A Suwaidi says an energy cost is budgeted for the facility, against which actual consumption is measured.

“We had an estimate for energy consumption before the market commenced operation and in the first year, we validated that number and later measured it. This led to a 15% reduction in 2016’s actual consumption compared to its budgeted estimate.”

While the team is currently making what A Suwaidi terms “quick gains” by switching off equipment in untapped areas and unoccupied zones, this energy management model will be expanded in the future.

To begin with, SQAJ’s building management system (BMS) has been updated to aid with sequencing and automation of the chillers.

“We understand we face a big challenge based on the size of the facility, but the first step is to measure [demand] – you cannot improve what you cannot measure,” A Suwaidi continues, referring to the team’s ambition to further reduce energy consumption.

S Suwaidi says Saned FM runs all BMS and engineering services for the facility, in addition to managing soft and security service requirements.

Air-conditioning for the facility is common and cannot be altered, but SQAJ extends flexibility of stall design should vendors request it.

Utility payments are included in the tenancy contract, and most tenants have been retained from the traditional open-air souqs that SQAJ has replaced, A Suwaidi says. Previously managed by Sharjah Municipality, SAM now manages these tenants.

A Suwaidi credits HH Sheikh Dr Sultan bin Mohammad Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah – whose brainchild SQAJ is – with ensuring tenant rents are maintained at a low rate to ensure all vendors from the old souqs are able to operate within the air-conditioned complex at cost-effective levels.

Energy is also a key consideration for the team as it reviews the implementation of automated vacuum collection systems, particularly Envac. A Suwaidi says SQAJ is fully equipped with a central Envac waste management system to help segregate organic waste: “The plan is to activate this system in 2017 with collaboration with Bee’ah.”

For now, Sharjah Municipality provides landscaping and outdoor area cleaning services at SQAJ’s parking facility, and Bee’ah provides waste collection services.

Disposal from produce stalls is managed by their respective tenants, and common area and fish waste disposal is managed by NCE, whose operators deposit the waste in skips placed at the facility.

Waste from the fruit and vegetable zone is typically left aside for visitors that may want to collect it for their pets – a practice S Suwaidi says has been carried forward from the traditional souq.

“We’re working on raising tenant education [about waste management] this year through awareness campaigns to ensure they do not mix organic, water, and foam wastes,” A Suwaidi says.

“Bee’ah does its best to segregate the material upon collection, but it’s better to do it before disposal than after, so tenant awareness initiatives are in the pipeline this year. We also have a vendor interested in buying fish waste and that is part of our 2017 plans.”

SQAJ’s team is reviewing designs for the fruit and vegetable zone to diversify its tenant base, which has already been expanded to include flower shops and cafes. A Suwaidi is upbeat about introducing a play area, and arrangements are being made to start operating a fish grill zone this year.

A supermarket is also in the offing and SQAJ is in talks with three retailers, but the facility’s integration between operations and FM could influence how this shapes up.

A Suwaidi explains: “The development operates as one complex, and if you allow retailers to tap into the air-conditioning in their section then it would affect the whole market. Managing that is our responsibility, even if some landlords usually [give a free rein] with such matters.

“But we want to maintain the architectural theme and Islamic design of the facility, so it’s important that we’re involved.”

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