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CBFM chief fosters preventive-first maintenance

Ian Harfield, CEO of Cofely Besix Facility Management, explains the company’s preventive-first approach and how it helps increase building life cycles

Ian Harfield, CEO of Cofely Besix Facility Management.
Ian Harfield, CEO of Cofely Besix Facility Management.

It would be fair to say that Ian Harfield, CEO of Cofely Besix Facility Management (CBFM) has been busy since the fourth quarter of 2016.

To begin with, CBFM announced in October 2016 that it has been awarded a three-year integrated FM (IFM) contract to manage two Aldar Academies schools in the UAE.

The following month, CBFM launched the Al Mareefa Training Bus, a mobile training facility developed for the company’s staff at more than 50 sites across the UAE.

December saw Harfield claim seventh place on the 2016 fmME Power 50 list. A significant contributor to Harfield’s high rank on the list was CBFM’s financial performance, which included a 30% YoY hike in 2015 revenues, with projections showing a 20% rise in corresponding figures for 2016.

CBFM’s steady growth should surprise few in the region, given the company’s wide range of services and its depth of knowledge within each sector it operates in – most notable among which is the mechanical, electrical, and plumbing (MEP) and heating, air-conditioning, and ventilating (HVAC) segment.

As Harfield explains, CBFM currently boasts “a wide range of MEP and HVAC service agreements”.

He continues: “At the extreme end of the spectrum is the undertaking of infrastructure maintenance at Yas Island, as this brings into scale the repair, maintenance, and replacement of what will become a major city’s basic infrastructure to support power, water, and wastewater to the theme parks, malls and residential areas located at Yas Island.

“On the other end of the scale, we also manage data centres that require extreme detail, precision, and preventative maintenance. These requirements form a part of the entry levels of operations, because losing power to the data centre is not an option to be contemplated.”


Planned preventive maintenance (PPM) programmes are a crucial element of not only a facility’s day-to-day operations, but also its life cycle and longevity.

Harfield points out the key considerations to bear in mind while designing PPM programmes and how these plans, if prepared diligently, can optimise an asset’s lifetime: “The key considerations when preparing the PPM plans are the condition of the plant and equipment to be maintained, and the client’s maintenance strategy.

“In the absence of a clear strategy, we would start by stabilising PPM activities, which would be followed by working with the customer to introduce a maintenance strategy that is best suited to their intentions relating to the property.

“This will include establishing long-or short-term ownership, as well as the most appropriate method to maximise the assets’ value and life span.

“A building’s internal environment, is directly related to the condition and effectiveness of its MEP and HVAC systems,” he adds.

“Obviously, soft services also seriously impact the overall environment. As for the life cycle of a facility, it is only logical that to prolong the life of a building, a balanced and intuitive maintenance regime will be the only determining factor.”


Preventive maintenance is a priority at CBFM, and it is here that the role of Al Mareefa Training Bus takes central focus in the company’s plans.

Al Mareefa was created by a team of in-house carpenters and electricians who renovated a second-hand school bus, which included the removal of 75% of its seats in order to build workbenches for the training. The bus has also been modified with a mini-theatre style seating arrangement and TV monitor for class-room type training delivery.

Simulation panels, such as electrical distribution boards for the practical part of the training were also installed. The bus features a vehicle fire suppression system and an on-board generator for power supply. Training provided aboard Al Mareefa is technically inclined and covers MEP and HVAC services, for which equipment has been installed and space created to impart practical education.

Up to 14 people are simultaneously trained aboard the bus, which remains stationary throughout.

“We are very focused on a preventative approach to maintenance, so the Al Mareefa Training Bus plays a critical role in ensuring our teams are updated about tools and techniques like vibration analysis, alignment instruments, thermal imagery, and data loggers, to name a few,” Harfield notes.

However, CBFM’s awareness of market requirements extends beyond the technical facets of MEP and HVAC delivery, as is evidenced by its contract with Aldar Academies.

CBFM’s work with Aldar includes the all-girl Al Mamoura School, leading the company to employ its first female maintenance team. The company will provide full hard and soft FM services for the facilities, including the operational and maintenance (O&M) of electrical services and HVAC systems, and round-the-clock MEP services.

“At Aldar’s all-girls school, only female students and staff are permitted during the school day, and within set times,” the CEO explains.

“We have therefore deployed only female technicians at the school to carry out routine work during the day in order to comply with the all-female environment. These technicians liaise closely with the project coordinator, prioritise corrective tasks to be scheduled and completed outside of the protected school environment, as well as schedule teams at the appropriate times to complete tasks.

“CBFM’s key differentiating factor is our people. We genuinely care about the skill levels of all our staff and to this end we invest in them, care for them, and bring them on our very own journey to excellence.

“CBFM is a motivated and positive entity, and all its employees, supervisors, and managers are aligned with one clear vision – to do a job well, safely, and effectively,” Harfield adds.


Looking ahead, CBFM’s work in the MEP and HVAC sector will benefit from the firm’s recently received accreditation as an energy services company (ESCO).

“One of our parent companies, ENGIE, is heavily invested in energy services, so our development in this sector is extremely complementary to their activities,” Harfield concludes.

“We can never stop; to stand still in this market is to regress. With the technology now increasingly available, Internet of Things (IoT) initiatives and the scope of integration opportunities, our focus is always on what we can provide, rather than just what we do.”

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