A busier Big 5 Show gives shape to persistent talk of a looming recovery. Story and photographs: B Surendar
It was a Big 5 that struck a defiant pose in the midst of the lingering downturn. It was an event that tried to emerge from the inertia of a year earlier, and on quite a few counts, did succeed. For one, HH Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the Prime Minister of the UAE and the Ruler of Dubai, himself chose to inaugurate the event, and in doing so, sent a positive message to the industry. For another, there was a visible increase in the number of visitors and a palpable return of the energy that was missing the last time around and even the year before. Many of the past exhibitors reposed their faith in the show by coming back to display and market their products this time around, as well, on the back of the reputation that Dubai enjoys as a commercial hub for the region. Said an exhibitor, “We are here, because Dubai is the centre of the Middle East. Our customers from Qatar and Saudi Arabia come here to meet us.”
Climate Control Middle East ambled through the aisles to get a feel for the mood and, in the course, met as many exhibitors as it possibly could in what were four hectic days of activity. Here, we bring to you the sights and sounds of the show that was…
A day before The Big 5 show, dmg :: events, the organisers of the show, hosted the Gaia Awards for 2010 (Climate Control Middle East listed the winners in the November issue). Several companies laid claim to the awards, which had responsibility towards the environment as a key criterion. The judges considered 125 entries, of which they short-listed 57 entries. Of that, they chose 23 finalists.
Seeley International of Australia walked away with the gold for Climate Wizard, a product that is based on indirect evaporative cooling technology.
Mario Seneviratne of Green Technologies, one of the judges, speaking to Climate Control Middle East, said that Seeley had taken a simple concept and made a machine out of it. What set them apart, Seneviratne added, was that Seeley had been able to quantify the power savings the machine made possible.
As expected, Seeley International showcased its award-winning product, the Climate Wizard at the show, which is based on indirect evaporative cooling technology. In direct evaporative cooling, moisture is added to the air, which is suitable in dry climates. The temperature that can be achieved approaches wet bulb temperature.
In indirect evaporative cooling, the supply air has no moisture added to it. It is possible to get a much lower temperature, because the temperature approaches dew point rather than wet bulb temperature. “At 38ºC and 20% RH, direct gives 23ºC, while indirect gives 16ºC, so there is a huge difference,” said Frank Seeley, the Chairman of the company.
The company said it had been working on the product for 15 years and started production three years ago. It subjected the product to testing in Australia, three years ago. In Adelaide, under test conditions of 57ºC, the product brought the temperature down to 15ºC – a 43ºC drop, claimed Seeley.
Further, in July 2009, in Phoenix, Arizona, in the US, York had given a 17.5 TR capacity AHU for the purpose of testing. Seeley said it had deployed the Climate Wizard with the AHU and achieved almost 25TR, as a result.
The Climate Wizard can be used as a standalone system or with a refrigerated system, where it pre-cools the air, Seeley said. It is a new product for the region. Seeley said the company was aiming to penetrate the commercial, industrial and residential markets with the product.
Seeley added that Saudi Arabia had expressed interest in the product. “After extreme temperatures, the air conditioning is struggling, so there is an opportunity to provide this,” Seeley said. “We can offer 100% fresh supply air to military establishments and hospitals. In Riyadh, we can provide 14ºC air in 50ºC conditions. The air will exit the machine at 14ºC.”
Seeley said that the machine had an ROI of three years, depending on how it was going to be used. “You can buy a smaller air conditioning system when you install a Climate Wizard,” he said, “or you can use it to cause less stress on the air conditioning system.”
At the show, Bekaert was flush with excitement, because it had recently managed to get an Environmental Product Declaration (EPD) to say that its products were carbon negative. EPD is based on ISO 14040 and ISO 14025. Speaking to Climate Control Middle East, Ian Penfold, Architectural Sales Manager (for the EMEA region) with the company said that Bekaert was the largest company in the US to have an EPD done, adding that it was a significant initiative, considering the fact that the existing culture in the window film industry was to supply products that were great today from an environmental point of view but not necessarily for the future. An EPD imposes obligations from the raw material stage to the time when the product has to be disposed.
Penfold said that Bekaert’s window films worked in all the main areas concerning energy savings in the context of LEED. “It reduces cooling system costs, reduces cooling costs and moderates peak usage,” Penfold said. “It keeps internal temperatures more stable.”
Penfold said that the company had deployed the film in a New Construction (NC) – a 43,000-square-metre facility in Turkey. That said, the window film was a retrofit product, he added.
Penfold said that one square metre of film saved 336 kilogrammes of carbon dioxide per year. In UAE, he added, it was possible to save 1,289 kilogrammes of carbon dioxide from being emitted per year for one square metre of film.
|Dectron, Harry Topikian, VP BD, and Sohrab
All the way from Canada, Dectron used The Big 5 show to showcase a wide range of its products, among them being Circul-Aire, RefPlus, Ecosaire and Thermoplus.
The company’s International Sales Director, Sorab Merchant, speaking on the company’s air-purifying technology, Circul-Aire, said that it was possible to achieve parts per billion of purity through the product. “We use this in the first stage of the process to give potable water from air,” Merchant said. “The Circul-Aire purifies the air that is going into the refrigeration system. The combination of the company’s purification and refrigeration technologies provides potable water.”
Merchant said the company had supplied Circul-Aire to refineries, pulping paper mills and to STPs, where odour was an issue. “No manufacturer has addressed odour,” Merchant said. “We have done so and have adapted it for grease control and smoke control.” In the UAE, Merchant said, Dectron had supplied its Circul-Aire units to the Marina Walk, an area dense with restaurants and where restaurateurs had the challenge of not sending the odour out from their kitchens to the walkway. Likewise, Merchant said, the company had supplied the units to the five-star Meydan Hotel and to the Armani hotel in Burj Khalifa.
In its own turf, in North America, Merchant said, the company had installed Circul-Aire in 70% of all the airports in the US, a prominent one being the Ronald Reagan Airport in Washington DC. Elsewhere, in Southeast Asia, for instance, the company was in the process of supplying units to the largest pulping paper mill in Indonesia, Merchant said.
In the second stage of producing potable water from air, Dectron, Merchant said, had the technology, which could produce 1,000 gallons of water a day. The water, he said, was of distilled water quality and could be used in rigs. Sites, like rigs, need distilled, ionised water to clean gas turbine compressor blades. “If a turbine is running at 98% efficiency, if the blades are not clean, the efficiency can come down to 93%,” he said. “So we maintain 98% through an online cleaning system.”
At the Gaia Awards, Grundfos won an award for the SQ Flex, a pump that runs on solar energy and which is flexible to run on wind energy and a DC motor. Predictably, the SQ Flex was one of the key products on display at the Grundfos stand at The Big 5. The company’s Director for Sales and Business Development (Gulf Countries), Rajat Mathur described the product as “very useful”, considering any option was available. However, these modes, he said, cannot provide much power for boosting the line. “A SQ Flex borehole pump has the capacity to just get the water out and not for pressure boosting,” Mathur said. “But it has relevance in remote areas with no power infrastructure.”
At The Big 5, Grundfos chose to focus on its products through highlighting the various applications – the whole range of water utilities – they could be deployed to support, be they water intake, water treatment, transmission & distribution, wastewater treatment or for use in pumping TSE for landscaping, post treatment. For instance, the company has supplied 100 sewage pumps each at Burj Khalifa and at the Dubai Mall. Speaking on water treatment and desalination, Mathur said Grundfos had high-pressure pumps for reverse osmosis and titanium pumps for seawater desalination.
|Gulf Engineering System Solutions (GESS)
GESS was one more winner at the GAIA Awards. The company, in fact, won two awards – a bronze (for its Steril-Aire product) and a finalist spot (for its energy-recovery ventilation system, ERV). Describing Steril-Aire at its stand at The Big 5, the company’s Regional Manager (ME), Sanjiv Sachdeva, said that the product had its own patented technology for UVC emitters. This emitter, he said, when installed in ducts or AHUs, and facing the cooling coil, could kill all types of bacteria and virus in the air stream and ensure no deposition on the cooling coil. So the air was clean and sterilised, he said. “Secondly, with the coil clean, there is no fungus growth, which ensures better heat exchange,” he said. As a result, Sachdeva added, the energy efficiency of the air conditioning system improved, as did the indoor air quality (IAQ) in the room.
Speaking, then, on the ERV, Sachdeva said it could be used for ventilation of offices, villas, restaurants and schools, which are typically fitted with packaged units, multi-splits and window air conditioners. “In those units, there is no provision for fresh air, so this is a solution for getting fresh air,” he said. “It provides fresh air, removes the stale air and, at the same time, ensures that the energy in the stale air is captured, because stale air, after all, is still conditioned air. Before throwing the stale air out, we take the energy out of it and pre-condition the fresh air, reducing the temperature and the humidity by using a heat-recovery wheel, built inside.” The ERV, Sachdeva added, used very little power, ran on single phase and provided 50-2000 cfm of fresh air.
GESS has supplied the ERVs to the Victory Heights project in Dubai, featured over a 1,000 villas, and to Nakheel’s Waterfront project. Commonly referred to as the lungs of the house, as it removes stale air, the ERV also helps the aesthetics of a building, Sachdeva said, since it causes to preclude the use of small ventilation fans.
Tour Andersson (TA) was present at The Big 5, as part of the Faisal Jassim Trading Company stand. Bassam Alawar, TA’s General Manager (ME) said the company’s presence at the show was significant for it, because it was in the throes of launching a series of balancing and control valves. Some of the valves in the series, he said would have their first public outing in December 2010. The remaining valves, he added, would be introduced by the end of 2011.
The valves vary in size and models. They range in size from 20 mm to 150 mm. The valves, Awar said, would be a good answer to the low delta T syndrome. “This is value,” he said. I am sure “they will be well received by the market and further enhance our position as hydronic solutions providers.
At The Big 5, GREE was an imposing presence, a reflection of its intent to show its muscle and might. Speaking to Climate Control Middle East, Jones Wu, the company’s Sales Manager (CAC Sales Middle East), said that GREE was introducing a full range of residential and commercial units and small home appliances (fans and humidifiers). “Our strategy is to show that Chinese production is top quality among other brands,” Wu said. “We are able to differentiate ourselves through our quality control system that our products have to go through. Our company standards are higher than even national standards in china, so quality is the biggest difference.”
Wu revealed that the company spent a lot of money in R&D and had, thanks to the regimen, emerged with a new inverter technology, through a joint venture with Daikin to develop the technology.
For GREE, Dubai represents a central hub for all countries in the Middle East. The company has set up an office in Dubai. From the Emirate, Wu said, it had fanned out and, today, had references for commercial units in Saudi Arabia, Oman, Libya, UAE and Iraq.
The company said it was enthusiastic about Saudi Arabia, a country it had entered six years ago and began supplying residential and commercial splits and window units to. Wu said the company, in fact, enjoyed a 15% market share for split units and window units in the Kingdom.
Wu said the company was keen on taking its VRF units to the Kingdom and was negotiating with potential clients to supply VRF units in Dammam. “VRF is a new solution in Saudi Arabia,” he said. “Earlier, consultants focused only on chillers; today, they are looking at VRFs, as well.”
|K-Flex (IK Insulation Group)
IK Insulation Group displayed its K-Flex energy-saving elastomeric rubber insulation products at The Big 5 show, as part of the Unigulf Development stand. Unigulf is the sole distributor of K-Flex products for the region, an arena it has supplied to for 20 years. Dr Bruno Re, K-Flex’s Director of International Sales & Marketing, said that the company had been a part of most of the projects in Dubai and that, by introducing the elastomeric rubber insulation products to the UAE market, in November, the company was reiterating its commitment to the region.
Describing the IK Insulation Group, Dr Re said the first plant opened in 1989; today, it is the world’s largest producer of elastomeric insulation. The IK Insulation Group, with branches in 43 countries, is supported and governed by the Italian headquarters of the company, and has production plants in Italy, USA, China (4), Turkey, Russia, Iran, India and Malaysia, for the production of insulation material, and employs around 1,500 people worldwide.
Dr Re shared his 20 years of challenging experience in order to bring closed-cell rubber insulation to the UAE and GCC markets. Elaborating on the closed-cell elastomeric insulation nature of the products, Dr Re said that this one characteristic protected them from the deleterious effects of condensation, a significant factor in the region, owing to high humidity and high temperatures. Generally speaking, condensation, he said, affected the performance of insulation.
Further describing the products as efficient and durable, Dr Re said that K-Flex had succeeded in changing the market from glasswool to rubber in both ducting and piping applications. Speaking further on their durability, he said that the products were not given to ageing quickly or to losing their performance after a while. In several installations, he said, there had been no need to replace the company’s rubber products even after 20 years, a testimony to their longevity.
During The Big 5, Dr Re revealed K-Flex’s decision to bring production to the region and the progress being made in setting up the plant. He said the plant, being established in Dubai Investments Park and set for a January 2011 opening, would be the 12th worldwide for the company. The new plant, he said, would also be the fourth largest in the world for closed-cell elastomeric insulation. Of the four, K-Flex already owned two plants; the third was owned by a competitor.
The new plant, Dr Re said, would be the most technically advanced to date.
Elaborating on the decision to establish a plant in the region, Dr Re said there was a clear and present need to maintain specific inventory here for fast-response delivery to customers and also in the quantities required by them. Time and volume, he added, were the operative words. Further, the decision to establish the plant here was an easy one, considering energy was available here and also the fact that the market in the region boasted of a strong demand for the product.
Dr Re confirmed the company’s move was to promote K-Flex as a world-class pioneer in offering new and innovative products to the market, which had resulted in winning many exciting key projects and developments in the region.
The plant in Dubai, Dr Re said, would be the base to serve the entire GCC. The company chose Dubai, he added, because it wanted to benefit from the presence and expertise of its Dubai-headquartered distributor, Unigulf, which enjoyed market share and competent engineering and sales personnel. “Dubai is an ideal choice for a location, because going from here to Jeddah is like going from the northern part of Europe to the southern part,” Dr Re said.
The raw material for the plant would partly come from Italy. K-Flex would use its formulating and technological expertise to manufacture the products in Dubai. Formulation know-how was crucial, he said, considering the rubber insulating material comprised 35 different compounds, present to offer protection against fire, and to improve thermal conductivity and permeability, to name a few. Dr Re said the products had won 2,000 certifications, including UL listed and FM approval from all over the world, as evidence that they were capable of withstanding the most aggressive conditions that were likely to affect the overall performance of the products. “Our market is not only insulating, but also oil & gas,” Dr Re said. “In oil & gas, we insulate platforms and tankers, where we cannot afford any cracking, so we have made the products adaptable to stresses in hot-cold cycle.”
Weatherite was one of the winners of the GAIA Awards for its Trigen Energy Centre, a product, the company feels, has the potential to resonate well in the region.
Characterising the product as being beneficial to safeguarding the environment, Robert Boswell, the company’s Group Commercial Director, said it generated electricity and produced waste heat as a by-product. The waste heat, he said at the Weatherite stand at The Big 5, could be used to drive adsorption chillers (of 75kW-500kW capacity) for air conditioning. The system uses water as a refrigerant and silica gel as an adsorption agent. Boswell said the system did not have any large parts and, as a result, consumed less power. The system, he said, could be modularised to generate from 4MW of power to a higher capacity.
In the region, the company is represented by Danway. Revealing the company’s profile, Boswell spoke proudly of its international track record. “We have a blue-chip customer base in the UK and count Tescos, BT, Boots and M&S among our clients,” he said. “We are now in for the long term in the region.
Boswell said Trigen had a bright potential in the region, considering that there were certain areas in the region that could benefit from a reliable supply of electricity, especially for such facilities as hospitals. “We are, at the moment, quoting here in the UAE,” Boswell said. “We plan to go to Saudi Arabia for hospitals, shopping malls and industrial process applications, as well.”
Speaking of the company’s business approach in the UAE, Boswell said he planned to go to the end user and offer after-sales support. “We have a service and maintenance division and support the product for its lifecycle,” he said. “Cost is a challenge, though, to doing business in the UAE. It is tough to compete with the Chinese over cost, and the UAE is still about cost.”
Adsorption chillers, he said, were not very well known in the region, but they offered substantial benefits. Also, trigen as an energy centre was appealing, he added, because it could work on any fuel source, diesel, biodiesel or solar thermal (thin film).
The Big 5 show was an opportunity for Ductsox to display its special ducts for the food processing industry. Tawfiq M Attari, Sales Director, said the company had ducts with anti-microbial agents, which he said, killed microbes around the surface outside the duct.
Attari said that the company had subjected the ducts to strenuous testing. The ducts, he specifically said, were tested after washing them for 10 times; the results revealed that they were still 99.99% active. Ductsox took this initiative, he said, because most food processing companies routinely cleaned their ducts every eight weeks. “So we have to make the fabric resilient not with paint but through the treatment, he said.”
Established in 1941, Alessa from Saudi Arabia exports its air conditioning systems to over 70 countries, with branch operations in the African continent, China, the countries of the Middle East and India. Its range of products includes splits, mini-splits, window-type air conditioners, packaged units, AHUs and chillers (of 350 TR capacity).
In its Light Commercial and Commercial ventures, Alessa, in 2009, began exploring the strategic partnership route. As a result of that, it joined forces with US-based Huntair for distributing its Fanwall technology in the region. The Fanwall technology represents the new generation of AHUs in the market. With support from Huntair, Alessa in 2009 contracted with King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) to supply the Fanwall units, said Nawaf Abdullah Almasoud, the President of Alessa. The contract value was $83 million, he added. Alessa is also working with King Faisal Hospital to supply the units.
As the next step in its strategic partnership route, during The Big 5 show, Alessa, in a well-attended ceremony at its stand, signed a distribution agreement with Eaton-Williams to supply data centre cooling solutions to the region. Saying that the data centre market in the region was worth SR 400 million, Almasoud added that there were projects aplenty in the region, in the forms of universities, hospitals and banks. “The GCC economy is booming,” he said. “There is a clear relationship between economy and demand. In the coming years, data centre cooling will be a promising business.”
Almasoud said a larger motivation for Alessa in entering into partnerships with such companies as Hunter and Eaton-Williams was to transfer technologies from the US and Europe to the region.
Speaking from an Eaton-Williams perspective, Dimitri D G Rocchiccioli, the company’s Head of Datacom Sales said that though the current scope of the agreement involved Saudi Arabia, Eaton-Williams would look to expand in the GCC in the coming years. The partnership with Alessa was quite detailed, he said, in that it included training as well as R&D.
Rocchiccioli said that, like Almasoud of Alessa, he was enthused by the large number of projects being forecast and developed in the Kingdom. “Saudi Arabia represents the biggest boom in the region, he said. “They have universities, hospitals, a media city and finance city coming up. And also there is telecom.”
Also present at the signing ceremony was Irfaan Harris, the Service Sales Executive (Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Bahrain) of Dell. Harris was there, owing to Dell’s relationship with Eaton-Williams, whereby Eaton-Williams would offer cooling solutions to Dell racks. Harris said that Dell was going through export growth in Saudi Arabia. “We were five people, three years ago,” Harris said. “Today, we are 35.”
|APCOR’s Intercork campaign, Portugal
APCOR’s Intercork Campaign, Portugal, was the sponsor of the Gaia Awards. Its Operational Director, Carlos de Jesus, was the keynote speaker. de Jesus also gave away the Gaia Awards to the winners.
de Jesus was at The Big 5 to promote the cork industry in Portugal and to highlight what he described as the several beneficial aspects of cork as a product for the construction industry.
Cork, he said, was 100% recyclable and was increasingly in demand. The Association, he said, consisted of 250 members, representing a total of 85% of cork exports in Portugal. An eco-friendly product, cork was an alternative for flooring and insulation, he said. Cork’s green qualities were unmatched by many products, de Jesus said. Its thermal, vibration and sound insulation properties made it an ideal material for residential and commercial developments, he added.
Cork was not sophisticated as a product, he said. It was complex for the rest of the world, but not for the Portuguese, he added. Cork in Portugal grows in the forests of the southern part of the country – to be specific, in Alentego. Cork trees can grow anywhere, but for them to be economically viable, they need to be of a certain quality; the cork from Alentego, de Jesus said, met this criterion.
Cork that is used in the construction industry is processed into granules, which is, then, mixed with cement. Speaking of its insulation qualities, de Jesus said it was as good as any other material. “The insulation lasts for 50 years or more, with all its characteristics intact,” he said. “It’s elastic always and absorbs vibration and acoustics. It is alive and working. Most materials expand or contract, but this remains the same, be it in March or August.” Citing as evidence a 40-year-old cold storage warehouse in Portugal, which was demolished in 2004, de Jesus said the product showed good resilience. “At the time of demolishing the warehouse, we commissioned a thermal test by a thermal expert,” de Jesus said. “The results revealed that the performance had remained unchanged in real conditions and not just test conditions. It is a fact that when you compress cork by 10%, it comes back. And if you press it by 50% for a period exceeding 40 hours, it comes back to 95% of its original structure. And it keeps the same dimensions.”
Cork, de Jesus said, was more expensive but from a medium to long-term perspective, it was cheaper, with durability being a factor for this. From a green building point of view, de Jesus said, it was 100% natural, with no additives to it.
In the UAE, de Jesus said, Fawaz Refrigeration used cork from Portugal – something it had been doing for a substantial period of time.
Ruskin Titus was at The Big 5 to show its dampers and fire-safety products, which it said, it was manufacturing in the UAE. “By manufacturing in the UAE, we have been able to reduce lead time, give more flexibility to customers, offer the products at cheaper rates, and enable ourselves to make instant change in specs and sizes, as per the needs of the customers,” said Gaurav Gupta of Ruskin Titus. “Prior to that, we had to procure the products from USA or Thailand, which made it cumbersome to change the specs.”
Gupta said that the company had started producing AHUs in the UAE. “This was never promoted by Titus prior to this,” he added.
Ruskin Titus, Gupta said, had agents in Africa and in the Middle East, including in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, Oman and Jordan, and in Iran. Gupta said the company counted Saudi Aramco, Jeddah Financial Centre and Barwa Commercial Complex (in Qatar), Qatar Convention Centre and Masdar City as its clients.
|Safario Cooling Factory
Safario Cooling Factory revealed a 5 TR air-cooled water chiller at its stand at The Big 5 Show. This product, the company said, would be introduced in the market in 2011, adding that it could be ramped up to a 200 TR capacity. The company said the chiller was being manufactured at its Al Quoz facility in Dubai.
Kimco was at The Big 5 show to showcase its Legio-free film, which it said, prevented the growth of legionella bacteria. Describing the film, David T H Gu, the Managing Director with the company, said that bacteria caused water to get blocked, which reduced the performance by 50%. Legio-free, he said, kept the performance at 100%. In South Korea, he said, the company was plugging the film to cooling towers in hospitals and semi-conductor plants. In Australia, though, they are changing to air-cooled systems, owing to a regulation concerning Legionella for cooling towers; Legio-free, he said, would have been a solution to help them stick to water-cooled systems.
Describing the film, Gu said that Kimco had added nanopowder to PVC. The nanopowder, he said, contained silver, tourmaline and zeolite, which together help in reducing bacteria presence by 99.9%. “In addition, we coat the cooling towers with the same material,” Gu said. “This procedure reduces chemicals blowdown.
Kimco introduced Legio-free in the UAE in 2010. Further, it installed the film in a few projects, including the Mall of the Emirates and Mamzar Plaza.
At The Big 5 Show, Hira Industries revealed that it was taking the step into the insulation business in 2011. “We are going to cater to the insulation consumer,” said Manish Hira, Managing Partner, Hira Industries. “The insulation product is being manufactured in the Middle East. It is a voluminous product, so it is going to be a big part of our business.”
Hira said that in its aero-duct range, the company was going to be producing flexible ducts and that during The Big 5 Show, it was in the process of gathering orders. “All our distributors are quite excited about it,” Hira said. “We will be producing everything here, and we will be looking for distributors in the Gulf.
Speaking of expansion plans, Hira said that Saudi Arabia represented the biggest market for the company in the next three years, in terms of geographic market size. The company, he said, already had a warehousing facility in the Kingdom and that it was peopled by six engineering staff. “We are looking to increase the number of personnel,” he added.
Hira said that the company had already attained a manufacturing license in Saudi Arabia and that it had identified a few products to manufacture. “The project, Hira added, was at an initial stage.