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An ear to the ground

What sort of challenges and opportunities does the global HVACR industry see in the Middle East market? Hannah Jo Uy provides a snapshot of the industry sentiment based on interviews Climate Control Middle East carried out during the HVAC R Expo, part of The Big 5 Dubai, held from November 26 to 29, at the Dubai International Convention and Exhibition Centre…

| | Jan 8, 2019 | 2:09 pm
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Drawing an international profile of visitors, the objective of participating companies’ in HVAC R Expo included using the platform to enter the market, launching innovative solutions, reinforcing relations with existing customers, establishing new connections and enhancing their profile in the Middle East region. More importantly, the event provided stakeholders with ample opportunity to feel the pulse of the business environment. Ali Umair, General Manager, Doby Verrolec, was one such exhibitor, who said that he aimed to gain a deeper understanding of which direction the market is going through the company’s participation.

Ludger-Bökmann, Head of International Business, Europe, Middle East and Africa, TROX

Sharing insights in this regard, Ludger Bökmann, Member of the Extended Board, Head of International Business, TROX GmbH, said that Middle East and Africa offer huge potential, adding that growth may not be quick, but it will be continuous, if the political situation remains stable. Sachin R Mhatre, Partner, Sachins Impex, said that the economic slowdown in the Middle East does not affect the company, as there is demand from one country or another, irrespective. Bassel Abd El-Aziz, Sales Director, Middle East, Airchal Middle East, outlined opportunities in Oman, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, adding that Egypt, while of interest, is highly competitive and that the company is still awaiting the boost for projects in the UAE in view of World EXPO 2020.

Mehmet Şanal, Chairman, Turkish HVAC&R Exporters’ Association (ISIB), also weighed in on the region’s growth potential highlighting Turkish firms’ continuous interest in the Middle East region, which has been identified as instrumental in ISIB’s bid to get at least 1.5% share in the global market, as well as commitment to the UAE, in particular, which, he said, is a constantly growing market that offers many opportunities.

Kishore Deotarase, General Manager, Sales, Unigulf, added that while there are lot of projects in the pipeline, vigilance must be administered with regard to choosing them. “There are a lot of new contractors we have never dealt with in the past, and [we are] extending longer credit terms,” he said. “It is becoming difficult and checks keep bouncing. These are the challenges we face every day. There are jobs, but they want lower prices and they don’t pay us on time.” Deotarase stressed that Unigulf welcomes competition, but that it should be at an even playing field, adding that often contractors, who want to buy their products, which, he said, carry the necessary certifications in compliance with local authorities, would ask them to match the lower prices of competitors.

Umair said that almost every project in the market is price-driven, because contractors are bidding heavily to keep the workforce busy, which trickles down to the subcontractors, suppliers and, eventually, HVACR providers. “Everybody is under that pressure to give the contractor the discount they gave to the owner to win the project in the first place,” he said, adding that this inevitably impacts the type and quality of products that goes into the projects.

Deotarase added that while Unigulf would love to work with only certain contractors it has done business with in the past, this is not a luxury of choice afforded to it. “Sometimes, big projects are handled by newer contractors,” he said. “Sometimes, they are from outside, and they form JVs, so how do we choose? We still don’t want to give up, but it becomes a catch 22.” Deotarase added that while this challenge exists, particularly with smaller projects and some types of contractors, in projects of significant value and size, there can be no compromises in quality, and more awareness is exercised, especially in fire and life safety.

Liju Thomas Eapen, Managing Director, Al Arif AC, echoed the same measure of optimism and added that certain customers are willing to invest in quality units in a bid to reduce lifecycle cost, owing to increasing electricity charges. “These customers know if they use a bad quality product eventually, over a period of 5-10 years, they will have to pay more, replace the unit and have the inconvenience of having a bad product in their project,” he said.

Resource management was also something that Hans Reinders, CEO, Oxycom, touched on, emphasising that concerted efforts towards energy conservation will help pave the way for more efficient HVACR technologies in the market, given the massive requirement for cooling in the region, and the burden it places on electricity cosumption. This, he said, is already happening in Saudi Arabia, in a bid to conserve oil reserves for future generations and avoid the need to create more energy grids and power plants. Reinders added that governments will be the best partners for the advancement of greener and high-quality products. “If the government sets stricter rules, we will have a great future,” he said. “If the government does not do that, the industry does not particularly want to change.”

Colin Bridges, Business Development Director, Belimo Automation, said UAE and Dubai government initiatives are helping raise awareness and stimulate the market’s growing appetite for more energy-efficient products, particularly for the majority of poorly performing building stock. “Retrofitting with these new technologies now will deliver savings and demand reduction that will last for the life of the building,” he said. “Our challenge is to help clients realise these benefits.” Umair went further to add that with the amount of construction that has already happened, the scope and demand for better quality and specialised facilities management will also continue to grow and play a greater role in the industry moving forward.

Who was there and why? (part 1)
Ranjana Konatt and Hannah Jo Uy present profiles of exhibitors at The Expo…


Aerauliqa: Aerauliqa launched its high-volume, low-speed (HVLS) fans during its participation in HVAC R Expo, said Sabrina Roberti, Product and Marketing Manager. The HVLS fans, she said, can be applied in buildings with very high ceilings to ensure uniform air distribution among occupants. The Italian manufacturer, Roberti said, has a range of ventilation products for residential, commercial, industrial and agricultural applications. During the show, Aerauliqa showcased its expanding portfolio with the aim of enhancing visibility in the Middle East market and looking for distributors and dealers for its range of products.

Liju Thomas Eapen, Managing Director, Al Arif A/C Systems

Al Arif A/C Systems: Al Arif A/C Systems highlighted ‘Chiller’ Fan Coil Units from Finland at its booth during HVAC R Expo. Elaborating on product features, Liju Thomas Eapen, Managing Director, said that the fan-coil units are ideal for the residential and hospitality sectors, owing to their energy-efficiency features and quiet operation. The fancoil unit, he added, operates like a packaged unit with built-in controls. “You just need to connect the chilled water lines, and it is set to go,” he explained. “It also provides a very advanced controller, which works like a BMS, which will give the status of the unit — the chilled water, temperature, the amount of work the fan is doing as well as the efficiency of the filters, whether it is clogged or needs any cleaning.” If there are multiple fan-coil units in a room, he added, the units can be connected to the same thermostat, allowing operators to see how individual units are functioning. Al Arif A/C is the authorised distributor of RGF products and Chiller FCUs in the UAE.

AMCA International

AMCA International: AMCA International aims to support its members in their desire to see the proliferation of specifications that include third-party certifications, said Mark Stevens, Executive Director, elaborating on the organisation’s participation in the Expo. “We are here to answer questions of contractors and specifying engineers to help them understand what it means to ask for a certified product and the added value of our certification programme,” he said. Providing insight on the organisation’s global expansion, Stevens stressed that currently, AMCA International has more members outside of the United States, and that the organisation has established steering committees in each region to ensure strategies are locally developed.

Beijing Holtop Air Conditioning

Beijing Holtop Air Conditioning: China-based manufacturer, Holtop, showcased its air-handling units, which combined heat recovery and air purification devices at its booth during HVAC R Expo. Roy Young, General Manager, Overseas Division, highlighted the company’s wall-mounted energy recovery ventilators, which, he said, were suitable for residential and hotel applications. Young said that Holtop aims to position itself as a green company, committed to improving IAQ and creating better living environments, through the use of energy-saving technologies. He added that the company sees the Middle East as a big market, owing to its high-ambient conditions and drive towards energy efficiency to reduce cost. While Haltop enjoys a strong market share in China, Young added, the firm is seeking local companies and distributors for the Middle East region.

Harwal Group

Harwal Group: Technical Supplies & Services Company (TSSC), a member of Harwal Group, showcased its new pre-insulated ducting system and launched several new products, such as its pre-engineered building systems and the company’s complete MEP turnkey installations for cold rooms and cold stores, during its participation in The Big 5, said Viken Ohanesian, Executive Director, Harwal Group. Ohanesian added that the company continues to promote value engineering as an effective approach to building systems. “In addition to highlighting our diverse portfolio of products,” he said, “our presence at the show allowed us to throw the spotlight on our new Phenolic Duct boards and ducting system for the HVAC sector.” The Phenolic Duct Boards, Ohanesian said, are complaint with the new UAE Fire and Life Safety Codes and meet the certification and quality systems that adhere to the highest international standards. With HVACR systems being significant users of energy, Ohanesian said he believes there was a need for a dedicated venue through the Expo to highlight the advances in the field and to further promote their importance in achieving the overall energy-efficiency goals of a building.

Mehmet Şanal, Chairman, ISIB

ISIB: HVAC R Expo is an important platform to reach out to countries across the Middle East region, said Mehmet Şanal, Chairman, ISIB, speaking on the organisation’s level of participation in the event. “The number of Turkish companies attending the fair has been steadily growing for the last eight years,” he said. “This year, Turkey is second to China in terms of the number of participants. Additionally, Turkey has been a sponsor of the fair for the last seven years. We will continue to work in partnership with the Expo to increase the number of Turkish visitors and participants.” Şanal added that thanks to its geographical location and its young workforce, Turkey currently enjoys a status as the production base of the European HVAC&R sector. “Turkish HVAC&R products also enjoy a growing reputation in the global market with an ever-increasing competitiveness,” he added.

Onur Kuduoglu, Assistant General Manager, Export,Makro Teknik

Makro Teknik: Makro Teknik views Dubai as a very important market, said Onur Kuduoglu, Assistant General Manager, Export, owing to both the quantity and scale of projects being rolled out across the United Arab Emirates. Currently, Kuduoglu said, the company is present in 20 countries and has the biggest capacity in Turkey in the manufacturing of flanges. Speaking on recent enhancements, Kuduoglu said that, of late, the company has updated its machines to ensure the durability and strength of its flanges as, owing to economic constraints, more people are using smaller flanges in bigger ducts. Kuduoglu added that he believes there is strong potential for the company’s flanges in retrofit projects, highlighting the long-term opex savings that come with choosing better quality flanges that offer efficiency, despite potentially higher capex.

Ziad Ibrahim, CEO and Partner, Proxcelo

Proxcelo Industries FZE: Proxcelo Industries presented its product range of evaporative cooling systems at The Big 5, in Dubai. Ziad Ibrahim, CEO and Partner, Proxcelo, said that evaporative cooling is a simple concept, the market demand for which continues to increase each year in the Middle East. He added that there are no problems with regard to liquidity in cash flow and payments from clients and the market for evaporative cooling is in an overall good shape.

Astrid Von Oetinger, International Sales Manager, RGF

RGF: RGF, a manufacturer based in the United States, was reinforcing its commitment to expand in the Middle East region through its participation in HVAC R Expo, said Astrid Von Oetinger, International Sales Manager. Exhibiting alongside Al Arif A/C Systems, Oetinger said that the company was highlighting its indoor air purifier and other systems based on active air purification, which uses hydrogen peroxide to eliminate odours, VOCs and bacteria. Additionally, she said, the products uses ionisation to reduce particles in the air. Oetinger added that the company has an extensive customer base in the UAE and that the new line of air purification systems, called Bioline, are ideal for hospitals, as it offers HEPA filtration combined with UV and carbon filtration.

Rahul Shrivastava, Senior Sales Engineer,
UAE and Oman, SPC Heat Pipes

SPC Heat Pipes: In addition to showcasing its product line of heat pipes, Rahul Shrivastava, Senior Sales Engineer, UAE and Oman, SPC Heat Pipes, highlighted a market trend and rise in demand for heat wheels as compared to that of heat pipes. He said, “The market is changing and the use of heat wheels is an energy-efficient alternative to the use of heat pipes.”

Time Control Technologies

Time Control Technologies: The product focus for Bahrain-based IoT company, Time Control Technologies, was its range of IoT-enabled sensors. The Expo worked as the ideal platform to speak to new and potential clients about the technology, Ghassan Yusuf, Co-founder and Hardware IOT specialist, said. “As an IOT company, we help companies save on time and money, while increasing productivity,” Yusuf said. The company, he said, works with MEP contracting companies to ensure worker safety and monitor efficiency levels and the work being done. “The Big 5 has been a wonderful experience, we had great hopes and have been able to do some good business,” he said. Yusuf added, “A lot of people have been dropping by and enquiring about the products, and this shows that there is a high acceptance rate for IoT and technology within the HVAC industry.”

TROX: TROX highlighted three air-handling solutions in its booth during the Expo: The TROX Fan Coil Unit, TKM 50 HE air-handling unit and the X-cube air-handling unit. Ludger Bökmann, Member of the Extended Board, Head of International Business, Europe, Middle East and Africa, emphasised that the fan-coil unit and the TKM 50 HE air-handling unit were developed for the region and produced in the company’s newly opened production facility in Egypt. The new facility, he added, underscores the company’s focus and long-term investment in Africa and the Middle East regions to ensure that the company is closer to local market requirements. The booth also showcased a range of components and systems for ventilation and air conditioning systems as well as fire protection and smoke control solutions. Georg Hetzel, Innovation Manager, Air Handling Units, TROX, conducted a seminar on the growing importance on Air Quality and Indoor Life Quality, during the HVAC R talks.

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