RMD Kwikform is optimistic about the Gulf's formwork sector
While select challenges continue to be faced by regional formwork professionals, technology and innovation will improve market conditions in 2018, RMD Kwikform's Paul Williams says
Paul Williams, divisional operations director of RMD Kwikform’s Middle East operation, discusses the challenges impacting the regional formwork sector, and outlines how technology and innovation will influence industry practices in 2018, and beyond.
Please outline the scope of your operations in the Middle East.
RMD Kwikform has been working in the Middle East for almost four decades – 2018 will be our 40th year – and has established itself as one of the leading formwork and shoring companies in the region. In the Middle East, RMD has 17 offices and yard facilities spread across Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE. The strong local presence in these countries allows us to supply to and support construction companies operating in the region.
Which projects has RMD Kwikform worked on so far this year?
In 2017, RMD Kwikform has worked on some notable projects, such as the RA 239 Sabah Al Ahmad & Al Khiran Roads infrastructure project in Kuwait, where a combined formwork and shoring solution was designed by us to support the bridge decks and the abutments. Special steel forms were included to create curved architectural features.
We have also worked on the Al Ansari sewage treatment plant’s Rusayl clarifier tank in Oman. To build the large circular wall for the clarifier tank, the client needed a flexible curved wall formwork system, for which RMD Kwikform was approached to provide its specialist products.
For the Riyadh Metro’s elevated station project, a custom-built solution was engineered by us to meet the client’s needs. A special steel truss system was fabricated by RMD Kwikform to support the casting of the new viaduct linking the precast and in-situ viaducts to the new station. Additionally, for the Marassi Al Bahrain Project, RMD Kwikform designed and provided various systems for corewall formwork and Klik-Klak access platforms to support the construction works for the mixed-use development.
Our products were also used for the Aloft Dubai City Centre hotel project. Due to restricted onsite access, the client needed a flexible and reliable solution, for which RMD Kwikform was picked. We supplied all of the formwork and shoring solutions for the project’s corewalls, retaining walls, traditional columns, and slabs and beams.
What are the formwork sector’s greatest opportunities in the Middle East?
Formwork companies will need to invest in technology as this is what customers are expecting. As a result, RMD Kwikform is focussed on investing in new software, such as Locus Eye, which is the latest 3D modelling and computer-aided design (CAD) software to transport CAD drawings into 3D visuals. Using Locus Eye, clients can visualise what the engineering design will look like on site.
The technology allows solutions providers to add real value to the supply chain, and offers the opportunity to onsite personnel to assess equipment suitability and even search for other components or equipment.
Health and safety will also become more and more important in the region as zero-incident targets are emphasised. By using quality suppliers and products that have built-in safety features, companies can mitigate risks associated with construction.
What is the scope for innovation in the formwork industry?
Innovation requires the right market conditions, but with contractors facing slim margins and the availability of low-cost labour, there has been limited scope for innovation of more advanced labour-saving systems in the region. That said, there is more scope for innovation and technology – such as Locus Eye, 3D, CAD, and building information modelling – to be used in the region.
What are the biggest challenges faced by regional formwork companies?
Liquidity and pressure on margins in a very competitive marketplace are challenges for the formwork sector.
How has the formwork sector evolved over the last 12 months?
With 2016 seeing a downturn in output for Saudi Arabia, Oman, and Kuwait, the UAE market has become congested as suppliers look to gain market share in the country. However, output values are improving in Saudi Arabia, and this may ease some of the pressure in the Emirates.
How do you expect the regional formwork sector to perform in 2018?
In markets such as Oman, Bahrain, and Saudi Arabia, market conditions are challenging and investment in the construction sector has slowed down. The UAE market is growing steadily, but the formwork market has become saturated, thus making it highly competitive. However, across the region, the construction sector can be expected to recover in certain countries.