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Sat 27 Dec 2008 04:00 AM

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The epitome of project urgency

David Bruijntjes, director of Asea Formwork and Construction Company, tells us how tight delivery times have a knock-on effect on small suppliers within the industry.

David Bruijntjes, director of Asea Formwork and Construction Company, tells us how tight delivery times have a knock-on effect on small suppliers within the industry.

Sometimes the UAE seems to be the epitome of project urgency. A developer or a main contractor takes a decision and everything else has to fall in place at breakneck speed. This phenomenon has risen to new heights.

In the blink of an eye a dozen tower cranes are moved onto a construction site and structures are stamped out of the sand in a matter of months as a result of the pressure the clients impose on contractors. In turn, the contractors then impose this urgency onto suppliers who are, more often than not, too busy to cope with the workload.

Clients impose urgency on contractors and they in turn impose the same on suppliers who are often too busy to cope with the load.

Architects with grand instructions from their clients push engineers to their limit in this part of the world. Projects do not only have to be completed sooner but also have to be larger, grander and more elaborate than anything that has preceded it.

The dazzling concepts by architects often require intricate designs in the concrete structures, thus compelling complex formwork panel shapes. We certainly feel the pressure in the formwork and falsework industry.

Asea Formwork and Construction finds its origins in the Southeast Asian steel formwork and falsework sector.

Having considerable experience supplying equipment to civil, residential and non-residential building construction sites in Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, Laos, China and the South Pacific, it was decided to venture into the highly competitive Middle Eastern market and established an office in Dubai.

The company entered the Middle East market with the intention of supplying the same formwork and falsework design and fabrication services as we have done in Thailand and our other established markets. Using our techniques and methodologies, we can enter the design stage at any point and supply the finished project on site together with assistance in the erection process.

The company employs material-efficient and cost effective strategies to create and fabricate formwork and falsework systems for residential, industrial and infrastructural projects. One of the first construction projects the company became involved with was the Dubai Metro Project.

The first contract Asea won was for a formwork and falsework system that had been causing previous suppliers considerable difficulties. The contract was for the design, fabrication and supply of the formwork and falsework system for the 3-dimensional lotus flower shaped pier heads seen on the elevated sections of the track where a balanced cantilever set-up was required to bridge the longer spans.

Due to its complex multi-dimensional shape the production of fabrication drawings as well as the fabrication itself required a special effort from our very experienced design and fabrication teams.

Asea was concurrently awarded the contract for the design, fabrication and supply of formwork and falsework systems for two different types of cross beams as part of the works for the extension of the elevated track surrounding the Dubai Airport. As for most projects in Dubai, fast delivery was needed and Asea was able to meet these demands.

The contract for the provision of formwork and falsework systems for pile caps and type 1 and 2 square columns for the overhead stations for the second, green line was given to Asea. We were proud when we heard from the contractor's engineers that our equipment was 150% to 200% more time efficient than equipment supplied by our competitors for the exact same structures on the red line. Given the situation we felt grateful that we could help the contractor in expediting the process of concreting.

Most recently on the Dubai Metro Project, Asea won the contract to supply a formwork and falsework system for columns in the underground stations. Because of the inherent space constraints and lack of mechanical lifting equipment working underground it was necessary that all elements of the system should be able to be moved by manpower alone.

However, the system had to be strong enough to handle the pressures exerted by the high-slump concrete mixture. Again, we were proud when the engineers and people on site told us that our formwork system was "awesome."

The Dubai Metro Project was not our only project in the UAE but it certainly was one of the most challenging and rewarding. But in the current situation, the next challenge we will face together with our friends and colleagues in the UAE construction industry will be to whether the financial crisis.

Although the signs are worrying there is a positive ahead. Despite many projects being put on hold there are still a significant number that seem unaffected.

Moreover, Abu Dhabi does not exhibit the same slowdown as Dubai. In short, we at Asea are confident that even in this difficult period will become a stronger and more efficient company.

If you would like to write for Construction Week in this column, please email rob.wagner@itp.com.

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