As an industry whose roots can be traced back to the Palaeolithic caves at Lascaux some 17,000 years ago, scaffolding may be able to stake its claim as one of the most integrated processes of the construction and building maintenance business.
Used by numerous civilizations from ancient Greece to the Nubians, scaffolding methodology and material has evolved from wood and rope knots to lightweight steel and pre-defined rosettes providing greater safety, efficiency and practicality and while there are certainly many regions around the world that continue to adhere to the customs of our ancestors, most developed economies have adapted to use safer, lighter more efficient systems. In the Middle East, the ramping up of the oil & gas sector just over forty years ago, in conjunction with a surge of infrastructure development led to a massive influx of traditional scaffolding which largely remained unchanged; until recently.
With over twenty-five years in the region, Frank McCoy worked on a variety of oil and gas and construction-based projects across the GCC, including LNG projects in Qatar and petrochemical refineries in Kuwait before establishing RB Hilton’s scaffolding operations in Saudi where he spent the next fifteen years. Prior to setting up Condor in the UAE, McCoy spent a year overseeing operations in Australia before returning to the UAE where he currently works as founder and managing partner of McCoy & Associates, a consultancy specialising in the delivery of innovative technical solutions for the petrochemical and construction industries. Thanks to his extensive experience he has the unique advantage of understanding the benefits of the ringlock system while appreciating why it has been slow to replace its out-dated antecedent.
“The transition from traditional scaffolding to ringlock in the Middle East has a number of factors. Firstly there is still an abundance of tube and fitting as well as cuplock stock so companies are less likely to see the value in buying or renting a new system, even though it is safer, faster and more efficient. Secondly, for a long period of time, there wasn’t enough information about the benefits of ringlock in the market, particularly in terms of the cost savings. From my experience, we were able to save approximately 25% in labour and 10 – 15% in logistical costs over the duration of the project.”
With ringlock priced at a premium to traditional scaffolding and cuplock, it’s easy to see why contractors may have overlooked it as practical replacement, particularly for smaller contractors who would take time to realise a return on investment. For the wider construction industry, McCoy believes it is a question of reaching the right decision makers who can set the standards for others to follow.
“In the case of DokaScaff UNI, our site teams were really impressed. It’s safer to erect than tube and fitting and has much greater flexibility than cup lock. If you’re working on a refinery, you can’t hang a cup lock system whereas with DokaScaff UNI it can hung in situ or crane lifted as a single unit. Overall there is a massive reduction in risk and assembly time. I don’t think there’s anyone in the industry that can say ringlock isn’t a superior system. It has fewer components making it lighter and easier to transport, it has an abundance of safety features meaning reduced risk of injury on site and it can be erected and disassembled very quickly, making it extremely cost effective in terms of labour. Once this becomes clear to developers, contractors and consultants I believe the transition to ringlock as an industry will be unanimous.”