Electrical products run the gamut from wiring and jointing to controls and sensors. We speak to two major players about growth in the region and the latest technologies.
Martin Parsons, Manager, 3M Electro & Communications Business ME.
What is your focus in the Middle East?
3M Gulf covers all the GCC, including Jordan, Lebanon and Libya. The Middle East remains one of 3M’s core markets, and there is a considerable amount of investment being channelled into the company in the region to build and strengthen its operations.
Is the region receptive to innovation?
3M is in the process of bringing its technology even closer to customers with the opening of an innovative Customer Technical Centre in Dubai. This will be the first centre of its kind in the Middle East. It is expected to open later in 2010, and will act as an innovative base for customers to test 3M’s exciting products and solutions that are new to the Middle East market. The centre will also provide 3M with an expanded facility in the Middle East to better support customer needs across the region.
The centre will draw upon 3M’s global R&D strength and 45 technology platforms to provide solutions for local customers. The fact that we are opening this new centre in Dubai demonstrates our commitment to bring innovative solutions to our customers in this exciting and growing market.
The facility will be divided into a number of zones, including 3M Electrical, which will be a part of the centre where we will showcase our technology, capabilities and products for the Middle East market. Customers will be able to touch and test multiple 3M technologies and learn about their various applications in the on-site teaching rooms.
Can you outline some of the most popular products?
3M Cold Shrink technologies is what makes up our joints and terminations for low, medium and high voltage classes, and it is classic simplicity – it moulds round a joint or termination under its own elasticity without the need for special tools or techniques.
Its secret lies right inside every 3M Cold Shrink component in the form of a plastic coil. After the component has been placed over the joint or cable end, this inner spiral is pulled out. The insulating tube then contracts from its pre-stretched size and shrinks onto the cable, exerting permanent radial pressure for the joint lifetime.
The simplicity of design is matched by the complexity of the research that 3M has put into the material developments over the last three decades. Silicone rubber is the material used as an insulator for our joints and terminations. It is hydrophobic, or averse to water, which is particularly important in outdoor terminations. Water on the surface forms droplets rather than spreading into an even film that can increase the chances of tracking or of insulation breakdown. Silicone is mostly inorganic, so leakage currents or arcing on the surface do not create a conducting carbon path. As an additional safeguard, 3M uses track-resistant filler. Silicone is UV-stable without the need for inhibitors, while its smooth surface provides minimal grip for contaminants so rain will wash them away.
Any new product launches / developments?
We will be introducing a new range of LV inline resin jointing kits and resin bags. The new mould body design is based on a hinged, one-part joint body that allows resin to be sealed inside the mould without the use of mastic and tape. It does this by using an expanding foam seal. No need anymore for the installer to cut the mould ends to the cable OD. The installation from the bottom brings a compulsory guide with automatic snap-fit, and the integration of the CMP system into the body eliminates assembly of different parts.
Its piercing system will release the resin once the resin bag is connected on the body. There is also a new environment-friendly resin Scotchcast #40, fully compliant to EU directive 2002/95/EC (RoHS), while EU regulation 1907/2007/EC (REACH) Resin 40 is hydrophobic. It is supplied in the bag with a pouring nozzle, which represents a step less in the preparation process.
Dilip Sinha, Regional GM, Honeywell ECC & EDNS, MENA.
Can you give us some background on ECC?
Honeywell Environmental & Combustion Controls (ECC) provides everything from thermostats to BMS used by various integrators to provide a complete building management solution for sectors from hospitality to education, health, residential and commercial. Important projects in this regard in where we are involved are Princess Nora University and the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology in Saudi Arabia.
What technology platforms do you employ?
We have some breakthrough technologies in ECC such as air valves and intelligent controls from Phoenix for laboratories and hospitals. The response time in detecting a change in pressure is under a second. ECC BMS controllers can integrate with these products to provide a total solution for the entire HVAC control system and BMS.
What makes Honeywell ECC such a great business is that, under one roof, it provides an unparalleled solution comprising top brands like Alerton, Centraline, Phoenix, Tridium and Trend. These brands provide customers with technology and applications that suit a particular construction need, instead of the typical situation of an external BMS provider supplying competing products where the portfolio would be much smaller. Honeywell ECC provides multiple brands for multiple applications, from the very basic to the highest level, so customers can really pick and choose.
Products comprise HVAC controls, including thermostats, valves, variable air volume (VAV) controls, air valves, chilled water controllers, comprising normal wire technology as well as wireless thermostats, where you stand to save a lot in terms of wiring and cables. Energy efficiency is something we promote actively, and help customers monitor and reduce energy consumption.
Why is BMS so increasingly important?
By applying BMS, not only do you have efficient air-con and integration of the fire alarm system, surveillance and access control, it provides for a very efficient use of the equipment as well as optimising energy savings. Our VAV technology employs variable frequency drives (VFDs), by which you control the speed of the motor and hence the air flow. So instead of using ordinary dampers, which people employed traditionally, VFD controls the motor speed by sensors and therefore controls the flow, saving a tremendous amount of energy.
We cater for both BACnet and LONnet, including such unique solutions as Niagra for automation control. This means we cater for optimal flexibility and adaptability in application, as well as being able to supply the latest technologies.
Everybody sees thermostats, but what you do not see is all the building controls sitting in the control room controlling everything else. The bulk of these have invariably been supplied by Honeywell, either as engineering solutions or via our solution provider partners across the region.
How much of the region do you cover?
From this office we cater for the entire Middle East, and also parts of North and East Africa. This market is being driven by the investment in infrastructure in the construction industry. There is a huge investment across the region in education (universities), medical facilities (hospitals) and commercial infrastructure, as with the economic cities springing up in Saudi Arabia. A similar thing is also happening in Qatar and Abu Dhabi, with Masdar City driving a lot of the technology uptake in the latter.
Due to the billions of dollars being spent, surely the governments and planners want the best technology to be used. They want to put their money to real good use. All of the key areas showing growth are demanding hi-tech systems with the capability to integrate with third-party systems, as well as being able to realise the best energy savings. A Honeywell controller can integrate with any other products. This means that both customers and technology planners and users can make the best choices without being limited to one particular product or company. Thus Honeywell ECC provides a platform for world-class brands and different types of technology.
What are the latest developments?
Another area that Honeywell ED&S has moved into recently is commercial and residential lighting controls. The latter comprises RF-based solutions, and then we have the Exxon brand from the UK for commercial lighting control sensors, which are not only based on occupancy, but also body heat and external light levels. These are intelligent, point-to-point sensors that can realise a 35% energy-saving in commercial buildings.
What are your growth prospects?
Honeywell is expanding in a big way, strengthening its already strong infrastructure and people base in the region, both on the technical/sales and operational side.For all the latest business news from the UAE and Gulf countries, follow us on Twitter and Linkedin, like us on Facebook and subscribe to our YouTube page, which is updated daily.
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