With infrastructure development on the front burner, the demand for quality formwork remains steady in the region.
Formwork is playing an important role in shaping many of the important infrastructure projects in the Middle East. Its use has become vital to the success of projects, with a variety of contractors and companies searching for the opportunity to put their expertise to use.
The phenomenal growth in the construction sector in the GCC over the past 20 years has created a huge demand for quality formwork. German and Austrian manufacturers were quick to recognise this and established an early dominance in the market. ¨However, the need for more economic solutions led many new entrants into the market, giving greater choice to contractors,¨ says Frank Abbott, Regional Sales Director, Delmon Scaffolding and Formwork. ¨Contractors now have a range of competent suppliers to choose from, leading to much healthier market conditions.¨ And, according to Ahmed Elhadidy, Gulf Regional Manager, Acrow Co, which has over 12 branches in the Middle East, Africa and Eastern Europe, ¨Currently, the biggest trend in the market is that most companies are shifting to the rental business of formwork.¨
Meanwhile, Anil Peter, Managing Director, Allied Middle East WLL, points out that the construction sector lays less emphasis on safety implementation and standards than the oil and gas industry.
This, he believes, has slowed the adoption of EU and BS standards for the scaffolding industry. ¨This can be seen at low to medium-level construction companies,¨ he says. ¨However, at the higher end, there is a lookout for new technologies and benefits by way of avoiding accidents, and easy and quick assembly and disassembly of formworks and scaffolding.¨
¨Compared to the previous year, this year is not the best but it is steady for formwork, though the access scaffolding market was at its lowest,¨ says Peter. According to him, customers mainly focused on cutting costs and, hence, chose substandard and comparatively less safe options.
¨Today, we see a market where a number of major projects have already been announced and awarded,¨ observes Elhadidy. ¨Meanwhile, there are a large number of formwork companies trying to establish themselves while some existing companies are attempting to strengthen the position they are already in before more infrastructure contracts are awarded.¨
For his part, Abbott is optimistic. ¨As a company, we have grown in size and capability every single year for the past 10 years, and we expect that to continue,¨ he says. ¨With falling oil prices, contracting companies have been affected by uncertainty, making them cautious about investing in new formwork equipment. This is where our rental service comes in, enabling us to offer contractors an alternative to purchasing their formwork. We see demand for formwork on rent continuing to grow. And with one of the largest rental fleets in the market, we are upbeat about our future.¨ Delmon has participated in several projects across the region, such as City Walk (UAE), Parallel Roads (UAE), College of Pharmacy (Qatar), Doha Festival City (Qatar) and King Khalid International Airport (KSA). ¨We are seeing solid demand in Oman, Qatar and UAE, with strong private-sector activity as well as long-term infrastructure projects driving demand,¨ he adds.
Spoilt for choice
Along with aiding timely completion of projects, formwork is also a cost-effective solution for contractors.
Allied Middle East WLL offers various types of scaffolding and formworks, such as cup lock, tubular, quick fix, etc. ¨And, we are now in the process of bringing in an advanced Chinese technology in the formwork market by which manual effort will be reduced to 50 per cent for assembly and disassembly,¨ reveals Peter. In addition to scaffolding services to the oil and gas industry, the company supports several major projects, ranging from small to large scale in Bahrain.
Delmon Scaffolding and Formwork supplies formwork and access equipment to the building and the civil engineering industries. ¨With our own brand of locally manufactured cup lock, and as distributer for Ulma, we have a diverse product range, and can provide safe and cost-effective solutions for every conceivable formwork, shoring or access application,¨ says Abbott. The company has been a distributor for Ulma for almost three years, and has introduced a number of new products in the intervening period, such as the T-60 lightweight, high-capacity stacking tower, Orma steel framed wall formwork panels, LGR lightweight adjustable column formwork panels, Enkoform wall formwork and Enkoflex slab system. ¨We recently launched the Ulma CC-4 aluminium panel slab system, which has proved hugely successful on a number of projects, most notably the Polo Residences in Meyden. With positive response and significant demand, we hope to introduce the Ulma ATR hydraulic climbing system in Q4 2016,¨ he adds.
With its strong presence in the formwork market, Acrow has introduced the Acrow Truss system, used for traffic gantries and other applications. ¨We are saving cost and time for our projects with this system,¨ shares Elhadidy. The new Acrow Heavy Duty Truss System (HD) is mainly used as a gantry for bridges crossing obstacles like traffic lanes, watercourses, other bridges, etc, and can work for huge spans up to 40 m with depths according to requirements - from 90 cm to 4 m. ¨The system can be used for permanent or temporary bridges or other heavy structures, and as strong back behind vertical concrete elements like one-sided wall formwork,¨ he elaborates. The company has undertaken work in projects such as Lusail City, Doha Expressway, Doha Metro and several residential and high-rise buildings in Qatar. Currently, it is supplying formwork to the New Orbital Highway Package 2 and 3, Al Wakrah bypass, Al Mana Tower, Al Shahd Tower and Marina Tower. ¨We have also introduced a newly developed automatic climbing system for high-rise buildings and Pylons, in addition to our new heavy-duty shoring system, which has been developed from our standard products,¨ adds Elhadidy.
Tips for use
Quality of the product aside, to get the best from your formwork investment, staff and labour should be trained. Hence, it is recommended that contractors take advantage and learn how to use formwork optimally. ¨At Delmon, we provide comprehensive training, and our site support engineers are happy to help customers with any difficulties they may have,¨ says Abbott.
¨I would advise all contractors to take advantage of this service.¨ Meanwhile, Acrow Qatar Formwork system has a professional installation team. ¨Our expert engineers are always available to reply to any inquiry and provide assistance for special designs,¨ says Elhadidy.
Competition for formwork contracts has never been more intense. This is evident when Abbott explains, ¨An increasing number of suppliers are entering the market, all fighting for their share, and this poses a challenge.¨ But Peter envisions another challenge. ¨The market has now turned such that it looks only for lower price of products, regardless of quality or timely service and safety standard.¨ Adding to this, Abbott says, ¨At Delmon, we believe in excellence of service, and our biggest challenge is to maintain the high level of service in a market where increased competition pushes down prices.¨
In Elhadidy´s view, the biggest threats faced by vendors are overdue payments, which is strongly affecting the progress of the construction industry. After-sales service and availability of materials are also huge problems in the formwork market. ¨In Qatar, a lot of formwork companies are struggling to serve projects and that is one of Acrow´s points of strength, as we are concentrating on after-sales services for the whole duration of the project through our big team of professional engineers,¨ he underlines.
Evidently, there will continue to be opportunities in the GCC as demand will remain solid for the foreseeable future. The vision of the governments to develop infrastructure will grow this demand even further. With competition bound to be fiercer than ever considering the new entrants arriving every year, all the players are set to show their best form!
At one of the World´s Leading Trade Fair for Construction Machinery, Building Material Machines, Mining Machines, Construction Vehicles and Construction Equipment, PERI welcomed around 175,000 visitors to its specially erected exhibition hall. The company used this platform to launch many new innovative formwork and scaffolding solutions to the many interested visitors. Some of those new systems include: DUO the universal lightweight formwork system for walls, slabs and columns, PERI UP Easy Facade Scaffolding, SKYMAX Slab Formwork and the ACS Core 400 Core Climbing Formwork.
As Alexander Schworer, Managing Director, PERI, confirmed, ¨For us, bauma 2016 was a great success, and we are very satisfied with the positive feedback as well as the high quality of the fair visitors.¨
The PERI specialists answered numerous questions on PERI formwork and scaffolding technology as well as engineering aspects and project solution details along with explaining the finer points of the new developments. In addition, PERI was extremely pleased with the huge number of new contacts made. As a result, the company is expecting many additional orders and opportunities in the wake of the fair in order to support companies in the construction and scaffolding industry, for both small and large projects.