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The lure of the mega

Large projects and vast opportunities for bagging orders in the Kingdom, pulls HVACR companies to Saudi construction show.

| | Nov 30, 2011 | 7:06 pm
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Large projects and vast opportunities for bagging orders in the Kingdom, pulls HVACR companies to Saudi construction show. Story and photographs: B Surendar

Over 700 companies from 34 countries converged on the Riyadh International Convention & Exhibition Centre for the 2011 edition of Saudi Build, from October 16 to 19. The exhibition, spread over 25,000 square metres of gross area, also featured 14 national pavilions.

In 1981, its launch year, the show was spread over just 5,000 square metres of gross area. For Shahid Bhatti, the show’s Project Manager, the growth in size is a reflection of the importance of Saudi Arabia in the Middle East. “The Saudi Arabian construction market is the largest in the whole Middle East region,” he said. “It has a share of over 40% in the GCC market. The mega construction projects underway in the country require the latest technology and services in the construction sector, which create tremendous opportunities for exhibitors to benefit from this lucrative market in the region.”

A number of HVACR companies exhibited at the show, drawn by the potential for business in the Kingdom and also to reinforce their ties with existing partners. One such company was Assan Panel from Turkey, which manufactures sandwich panels out of its factory in Istanbul. At the show, Ozgur Devrim Cakir, the company’s Export Manger, said that the company was the biggest sandwich panel manufacturer in the Middle East and that it supplied eight million square metres of panels a year in Turkey and in the international market. “We are selling sandwiches to Saudi Arabia,” Cakir said, by way of explaining the company’s presence at the show. “We have supplied 50,000 square metres of cold storage panels in Saudi Arabia alone and have customers in Jordan and Syria.” For Assan Panel, the show was an opportunity to touch base with its customers in the Kingdom, many of whom were involved in executing turnkey cold store projects in the country.

Also present at the show was Ecotherm, which manufactures solar panels. For Dr Christoph Stangl, the company’s Marketing Manager (International) & Press Officer, Saudi Build was an excellent opportunity to exhibit the company’s capabilities.

Ecotherm, which has supplied solar collectors for hot water systems in the Shoreline Apartments project of Dubai’s iconic Palm Jumeirah development, is enthused about doing business in Saudi Arabia. Pointing to Burj Al Faisaliyah (Al Faisaliyah Center) in downtown Riyadh, Dr Stangl drew attention to the vast potential in the Kingdom. “If you look down from Al Faisaliyah, you will see roofs all around you, which are excellent for our solar modules,” he said. “Our new PV modules are suited for the flat roofs here.”

The modules, Dr Stangl said, were easy to install, requiring just placing and modularising, as one went along.

With a capacity to withstand wind speeds of 180 kilometres an hour and a proven efficiency for Middle East conditions of 130 watts per module, the product was ideal for Saudi Arabia, Dr Stangl said. The modules, he added, were compact, occupying only 1.3 square metres in space each. “You can place them tightly, one after the other, because the angle is only 10 degrees,” he said. An added benefit of installing them on the roof, he said, was that they provided insulation to the building.

A bane of solar panels in the GCC is the ever-looming possibility of sandstorms, which detractors say, affect their efficiency. Cleaning them, the detractors add, would mean having to use water, which is precious in the desert and comes at a high price. Keeping this in mind, Dr Stangl said that Ecotherm was currently working on developing a cleaning system, which would involve using condensate water from air conditioning systems.

Speaking of the company’s achievements in Dubai, Dr Stangl said that the Palm Jumeirah project was a heartening experience for Ecotherm. The company confronted oversized tanks on the Shoreline Apartments, which if conventional means of heating had been adopted, would have meant high electricity consumption to heat them, Dr Stangl said. Plus, all the electricity would have been lost when the tanks cooled down. In that context, he said, Ecotherm’s solar technology was ideal. “Our panels,” he said, “can raise the temperature of water from 20ºC to 60ºC in one second. They can provide 71,000 litres an hour of hot water at 60ºC.”

The Ecotherm system comes with a high-capacity tube bundle heat exchanger, for which the company owns a patent, Dr Stangl said, adding the company had the capability to offer a turnkey solution by factoring in all the components required for hot water and steam systems. “A turnkey solution is essential,” he said, “because a problem arises when people select different companies for components and, then, discover that they do not match specifications. We offer turnkey solutions, and it is compact. We are able to provide the whole system, up to the header, so it is functioning from Day 1.”

Also present at Saudi Build was Aquatherm, which showcased, among other products, its Climatherm piping system for district energy applications. Volker Kohler, the company’s Product Consultant (International), said the piping system could transport water in the range of –20ºC to 90ºC.

The piping system, which Kohler said, had PUR insulation and a PE covering, could withstand heat and heavy weights. It could support the transport of chilled water, with minimum loss of energy, for a distance of one kilometre.

Alois Seeler, the company’s Export Manager, said that the pre-insulated piping system, 100% manufactured in Germany, was slightly more expensive than steel, but came with proven thermal capability. He added that Aquatherm had successfully deployed the system in Turkey in a geothermal application, which involved transporting hot water from the ground for a distance of 2,200 metres.

Leroy Sommer was yet another company present at Saudi Build. Mohamad Sabyre Houssen, the company’s Business Development & Key Account Manager for Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, said that Saudi Arabia represented one of the biggest markets for the company, in terms of contracts and projects.

At Saudi Build, Leroy Sommer showcased its Dyneo product line. “In Saudi Build, the main message is higher-efficiency motors,” Houssen said. “Dyneo consists of synchronous, permanent magnet motors with variable speed. Dyneo is the future of the motor industry. It has the same power rating (0.75 to 400 kw) as its competitors but is more compact, with a smaller frame. Its frame size ranges from 90mm to 315mm, as opposed to 355mm.

Houssen said the company was pursuing industrial sector projects in Saudi Arabia, adding that for HVAC, it was working with main OEMs, like Zamil and JCI (York).

In the oil and gas sector, the company was focusing on supplying jet fans for air extraction. Saudi Aramco, Houssen said, needed high power rating jet fans for its strategic storage of barrels. The company, he added, was ideally positioned to supply to the sector.

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