Electrical substations, which form the foundation of power generation and distribution, are set to increase their domestic and commercial demands in the country.
The demand for power has never been greater, as Qatar embarks on massive national infrastructure development.
Substations are at the very foundation of power distribution, as they fuel infrastructure projects and cope up with the increasing domestic and commercial demands, as Qatar´s population swells to record levels.
Although Qatar´s utility provider has been continuously increasing the nation´s power capacity over the years, it is enduring a large scale power transmission system expansion, which translates into hundreds of substations being built across the state, in addition to the several existing being refurbished, upgraded and extended to suit the new requirements and growing demand.
What makes a substation?
A typical substation building consists of a gas insulated switchgear (GIS) room, a switchgear room, a control and relay room, a LVAC and DC room, a battery room, a basement cable chamber, transformer yard, auxiliary transformer yard, a fire pump room, telecom and ablutions rooms.
The building´s HVAC component is considered to be the most important aspect of the MEP system as it is tasked with removing massive amount of heat generated inside a substation, while keeping the substation building cool and safe at all times. There is a need, therefore, for custom-made, special purpose HVAC equipment. Arabian MEP carries out the complete scope of MEP building services including heating, ventilation, air-conditioning system (HVAC), plumbing, drainage, electrical, small power distribution, fire alarm and firefighting systems. And, in Arabian MEP´s substation projects, for example, only the highest quality HVAC equipment is used.
Design and build
The construction of substations is more often than not, a design and build process, and thus involves Arabian MEP´s design engineers working closely with the prime contractors. Substations may be located on ground level, in fenced enclosures, underground, or in special-purpose buildings. High-rise buildings may have several indoor substations. Indoor substations are usually found in urban areas to reduce the noise from the transformers, for reasons of appearance, or to protect switchgear from the extreme climate or pollution conditions.
Striking a balance
A good design attempts to strike a balance between reliability and cost. The design should also allow easy expansion of the station. Environmental effects of the substation should be considered, such as drainage, noise and road traffic effects. The type and capacity of these substations varies according to requirement and are built to various configurations, namely 33/11 kV, 66/11 kV, 132/11 kV, 132/66/11 kV, 220/66/11 kV, 220/132/66/11 kV and 400/200/66/11 kV super-substations.
As substations form the backbone of infrastructure projects, these mission-critical facilities have to be operational throughout the year on a 24 x 7 basis, coping with harsh desert conditions. In order to maintain full functionality, it is extremely important to have reliable MEP building services, with 100 per cent standby systems station equipped with auto-changeover controls for remote monitoring and control.
Achieving high quality MEP systems
To achieve the required stringent design and performance criteria, MEP systems have to be of the highest quality and reliability for efficient operation and performance. Such high quality MEP installations can only be carried out by highly professional and experienced MEP contractors.
In this niche market, Arabian MEP has clearly established itself as a market leader with a seamless track record of successfully completing MEP services for hundreds of substations, and has been involved in this highly specialised sector for almost two decades.
Arabian MEP has completed substation works in many of the main developments in the city and in off-beat corners around the country.
The major challenge in the execution of substation projects explained by Project Manager, Sheshadri, is that these projects are awarded in multiple groups and are spread throughout the country - some being at the core of mega-developments while others are located in isolated desert regions. Given that the work has to be carried out simultaneously, in multiple locations, with fast track mobilisation and completion periods - where in some instances there is no road access due to remote locations -logistical challenges exist, that a lesser experienced contractor cannot surmount. In order to counteract these logistical and time limitation challenges, Arabian MEP has adopted several key processes to enable successful delivery of the substations to the utility provider. These include work standardisation methods and a pre-fabrication concept along with highly efficient planning processes.
The success factor
Arabian MEP believes human capital to be the most important asset. Without doubt, the commitment of its workforce is the most essential ingredient of its success in this sector, completing phase after phase of substation works. The company opted to assign dedicated teams per area or zone giving them independence and flexibility, and allowing them mobilise and demobilise at a short notice. These ultra-skilled substation professionals have their standardisation methods honed to a fine art. Arabian MEP´s commitment to their workforce is evident with the investment in an in-house Technical Training Centre (TTC) for all MEP trades in Salwa Industrial Area. As a policy, new recruits and existing employees are required to attend skills development programmes on a regular basis.
Another factor that assists in overcoming the challenges identified is facilities in the Industrial Area. Arabian MEP has numerous mechanical and electrical manufacturing facilities, producing approved HVAC duct products and accessories, and high quality approved switchgear. These established infrastructures afford the company, the required quality and priority required, to overcome simultaneous fast track multiple site hand-overs.
Its procurement team has been managing these challenges for a long time, and attempts to plan such multiple requirements accordingly. They do this by ordering materials in advance for just in time (JIT) delivery to the site. JIT is extremely necessary when executing in locations with limited space and storage such as underground projects.
Safety testing and commissioning
Since substation projects come under the ´mission critical category´ of essential infrastructure, with no room for failure or delay, the company has adopted the industry´s best construction practices to guarantee quality, performance and efficiency, explains Sanviraj, QHSE Manager, Arabian MEP. He further adds, ´The most stringent QA or QC standards must be followed during construction phase and there is zero-tolerance for failures. It is for this reason that we integrate a 100 per cent redundancy philosophy during the design phase.´
Sanviraj continues to explain the value of corporate wide HSE initiatives or activities to prevent and reduce incidents, health risks, pollution and possible environmental impacts. Some of the internal initiatives include comprehensive training, multi-lingual induction, daily tool box talks, regular meetings and top management involvement. The company´s commitment to the HSE incentive scheme and awarding employees for outstanding contributions, fosters a culture towards a zero-occupational injuries goal and an accident-free record on site.
Responsibility and accountability are directed at everyone within the company at every stage of contracting including pre-award, execution, and in the testing and commissioning stages.
Before mobilisation, stringent safety reviews are put into place with consideration for planning and the environment. In order to reduce any risk factors, continuous on site, project-specific training takes place. Any new daily tool-box talks are held and models and examples of personal protective clothing equipment are on display. These practices are recorded and analysed for the betterment of the site and the team members.
Externally, Arabian MEP is focused on mega projects in many different sectors not limited to the power sector. The market in Qatar is evolving dynamically, with recently awarded mega projects such as in the port, stadium and the rail sectors. And, the company is continuously assessing potential opportunities.
Until today, it has maintained an impeccable track record of successful on-time delivery of projects. Being Qatari-owned, it makes a particular effort to focus on projects of national importance, through which it can make a significant contribution to the development of the country. Its contribution in the power transmission sector does instil pride and a level of contribution that we hope will continue well into the future.