HITECH CONCRETE SPONSORED ‘PRECAST FOR ALL’
Hitech Concrete sponsored the 3rd Annual ‘Precast for All’ Conference was held in Dubai on May 18, 2015, under the patronage of Dubai Municipality and the UAE Contractors’ Association.
The conference – the largest precast-specific construction event in the Middle East held at Dubai’s Conrad Hotel – brought together the industry’s foremost precast experts. Among the VIPs in attendance were Eng. Abdulla Mohammad Rafee, Assistant Director General for the engineering and planning sector, and Dr Ahmad Belhasa, the Chairman of the UAE Contractors Association. Through a series of eight presentations delivered by highly experienced and distinguished industry specialists, the conference shed light on some of the sector’s most important topics.
Dr. Ahmad Balhasa commenced the conference by welcoming the attendants, as well as explaining the significant importance of precast in construction, in light of the immense development Dubai is currently undergoing ahead of the World Expo 2020. Balhasa detailed the substantial scale of construction investment – which stood at 5.5 billion AED in 2014 – and described the vital role of precast in water, electricity, and communication investments in accordance with global environmental standards.
This was followed by a speech delivered by Eng. Abdulla Mohammad Rafee, a representative of Dubai Municipality , who highlighted Dubai’s perseverance in its efforts to be ranked the most sustainable city by the year 2020. He pointed out how precast will contribute to achieving this goal, through its prominent standing in the field of alternative energy. Eng. Rafee then gave specific details and statistics on how precast can be beneficial in modern construction – particularly in Dubai – and to what extent it can meet the emirate’s demands in terms of construction material, which continue to double every year.
Quote: “We are delighted to have brought together so many eminent precast experts at the third annual ‘Precast for All’ Conference in Dubai, on what was an illuminating day which explored many of the industry’s crucial opportunities and challenges. The experience and expertise of our speakers came out clearly in the excellent and revealing presentations they each delivered. The UAE has made unprecedented progress in the construction industry over recent times; this event was another signal of the country’s intent to continue to help shape the debate going forward”.
The opening presentation focused on ‘Building a better tomorrow’, comparing traditional construction and precast systems by exploring their pros and cons. Mr Matthew Palmer – who has worked for a decade with United Precast Concrete, of which he is currently General Manager -examined how precast systems substantially reduce construction time, labour numbers on site, waste material on site, and costs due to less snagging. Precast makes up 30% of the UAE’s concrete market, Mr Palmer observed, and is around 10% cheaper to manufacture compared to other alternatives – while it can also be produced much faster.
The second presentation discussed precasts and sustainability, and was delivered by Professor Abid Abu-Tair, Professor of Structural Engineering at the British University in Dubai and visiting research scholar of the Manchester School of Mechanical, Aerospace and Civil Engineering. Professor Abu-Tair showed how precast concrete delivers a triple bottom line solution: social, as an essential part of GDP (comprising 10% of GDP); environmental, as a key enabler of renewable energy technologies; and economic, with relatively low cost versus performance and the lowest ‘whole of life cost’ in infrastructure.
That was followed by a presentation on the durability and service life of precast concrete, delivered by Dr. Mohamed Naji. Currently serving as the Director of Infrastructure Sustainability and Assessment Centre at the American University of Dubai, Dr. Naji has more than 25 years of experience in construction materials, corrosion of metals, durability, repair and non-destructive test methods.
The fourth presentation – given by Dr. Daniele Pfeffer, from Gulf Precast – was on the subject of total precast solutions for large villa developments. Dr. Pfeffer, who holds a Master’s in Business Administration from France and a PhD in Construction Management from the UK, has 25 years of experience in the UAE Construction industry, and has authored several international publications on the sector.
Following a break for lunch – accompanied by a virtuoso violin performance – the presentation topic moved on to precast solutions for the construction of low-rise buildings such as schools and car parks. Dubai Mall is one notable example of a precast building; another is Yas Marina Circuit. The presentation was delivered by Mr. Matti Mikkola, who since 2006 has served as CEO of Dubai Precast LLC, a subsidiary of Eastern Pretech Group. Mr Mikkola has been involved in the prefabrication industry around the world for more than 25 years, and has worked in Singapore, Malaysia and Taiwan.
The sixth presentation was on the topic of precast solutions for the construction of high rise buildings. One example is Jumeirah Beach Residence, which is all precast. The presentation was given by Jesn Fussing from BG & E and Engr. Bahaa Ibrahim, Design Manager at Hard Precast. Engr. Ibrahim has 16 years of experience working in structural engineering and precast concrete design, responsible alongside his team for the design of various major projects within the UAE.
The penultimate presentation was on the subject of the innovative use of precast, and was delivered by Mr. Brett Holmes and Mr. Bernd Reisacher. Mr. Holmes, who serves as Territory Manager at StormTrap, has a chemical and civil engineering background and extensive stormwater industry experience, with a focus on educating engineers, contractors and regulatory bodies about the benefits of precast concrete in the Stormwater Management Industry. Mr Reisacher has since 2010 been Technical Sales Director at Reckli, and was educated as a Master in Cast in Stone and Precast Concrete, and Concrete Technologist.
The eighth and final presentation of the day explored the maximization of cost benefits through early value engineering, and was again delivered by Professor Abid Abu-Tair, who had spoken in the morning on sustainability. That was followed by a raffle draw, before a closing speech saw the day’s proceedings comes to an end.