By Stephen White
German Plant Experience (GPE) first poured the cement on its Dubai foundation in 2004 and has been involved in some of the GCC’s biggest projects ever since.
I think from 2004 to 2009 the market was going up yearly and so it was for
us in Dubai. Then
at the end of 2009, we saw the market fall dramatically. Fortunately for us we were
already involved in some other projects in other countries,” says Matthias Gottschalk
of GPE (German Plant Experience).
GPE has been developing the happy habit of putting itself in
the right place at the right
time since Gottschalk, the
general manager, alongside compatriat Markus Guckenhan founded GPE in Dubai in 2004.
“The Burj Khalifa was made with our equipment,” he recalls.“
But Dubai is finished
He continues: “But we see things in Abu Dhabi, Saudi
Arabia, Kuwat – a lot of places that are good
for us. And we continue to move upwards as a company.”
in particular has proven to be one of its strongest areas, where it opened an office
earlier this year.
“Getting the visas sorted was jsut getting too complicated,”
he says. “We have a plant there now and a
guy there is very active – running here, there and everywhere!”
Gottschalk believes that GPE’s tenets of using German engineering
and prowess has been an important factor in gaining a trusted reputation across the GCC. He also says
that its policy of being open and honest with clients is a real USP.
The Burj Khalifa proved a vitalproject in demonstrating GPEs
ability to handle large scale projects: “We supplied small plant, large plant, readymix
– from 30 cbm to 2490 cbm.”
It also proved a useful showcas of its utilisation of its WebCon
control software: “The software has proven itself not just in
the Burj Dubai – more and more plants are being converted
Webcon uses web technology in conjunction with standard software
components. Keeping things simple it uses clear menus and self-explanatory buttons
to make operation convenient for the operator and provide him with a very good overview.
Meanwhile two TFT monitors are connected to a master
computer. An operator can select recipes, input orders or set plant parameters on
one, whilst a
second monitor provides a
visual of the complete production process.
Echoing GPE’s own philosophy it provides the user with the greatest
possible transparency and is able to be integrated into an intranet. Hence all employees
can have the view data and production processes that are
relevant to them online direct from their workplace.WebCon is the product of GPE’s ability to leverage a wider international
“We have our own factory in Italy
for steel; in Dubai we make the plant and the technical
part comes from Germany,”
GPE has found itself working on some of the region’s biggest
and most prestigious projects. Other than the Burj Khalifa, GPE has worked on the
King Abdullah Financial District and
Princess Nora Bint University. It has also supplied and installed
two mixing plants for this project for New Doha International Airport,
each with a capacity 150 cbm/hr while it was being constructed.
Even for a company of GPE’s experience the NDIA proved to be
a demanding project. To satisfy those demands, each plant consisted of six aggregate
boxes with a total storage volume of 240 cbm. In order to guarantee rapid aggregate
dosing, two independent weighing belts were each dosed by 3 boxes, allowing two
aggregates to be dosed simultaneously and
The two weighing belts
discharged centrally onto an elevating conveyor with a
cleated belt and a belt width of 1200 mm. The elevating conveyor discharged into
a preliminary silo with a volume of 6750 l.
A 9 cbm ready-mix truck was filled with two mixing batches, in
order to offer the operator optimum possibilities, each mixer was equipped with a
special camera. At the push of a button they could check the consistency of the
concrete during mixing via a colour monitor. Besides that, dry loading, ie. all
raw materials fed directly to the ready-mix truck, could bypass the
mixer. In order to always have a
sufficiently large reserve
of cement even during periods of peak activity, each plant
was equipped with a total of 9 cement silos.
Four of these are 700 tonne silos that serve as a passive store
from which the active silos can be filled as required. There were four 300 tonne
silos directly at the plant for cement and GGBS, as well as a 100 tonne silo for
microsilica. Besides the 2000 kg cement scales, the microsilica also has its own
set of scales.
In order to fulfil the stringent emission requirements, a separate
filter system was installed in the plants to “ensure virtually dust-free production”. All the time, WebCon helped tie the operation together.
Back to quality
With a long list of achievements unders its belt, Gottschalk
says that GPE has a good chance to progress even further. Although, you sense
he was frustrated by customers choosing price over what he feels is the quality
“We’ve gone through a year or so with people only wanting to
talk about money,” he comments. “But now, I honestly believe that people are more
interested in quality again. They are changing their minds and coming back.”
One of the outcomes of the downturn has been a flushing out of
some companies and competition that Gottschalk feels were too eager to make money
in the short term.
“Everybody was looking for the money. They were coming over as
one man show – they tried it and falied,” he says. “Now the market only has large
companies still here.”
“This year has been the best year since GPE started in 2004,”
he contests. “Last year was bad, but this year has been a complete surprise.”
“We didn’t have to change much. We started to present more to
clients. But people who had bought poorly before started to come to us. We knew
we could rely on our quality. The competition were the best advertising for us.”
“With our two new plants in Saudi, the forecast for 2011 is good.”