Having been based on projects from the Caspian Sea to Singapore, as well as almost a decade in the Middle East and Ural regions, Mohamed Omran has worked with infrastructure and energy giants including Balfour Beatty, British Petroleum and Exxon Mobil before starting his role as business development manager scaffolding with Doka Middle East & Africa earlier this year. As someone with a close relationship to the industry, Mohamed has been able to see the evolution of the sector and understand how demand is changing.
“Certainly, there is far more emphasis on safety. As an industry that requires teams to work quickly and at height, more measures have been put in place by regulators to ensure the wellbeing of scaffolders, something that has required contractors to either update their existing scaffolding procedures.”
One area where little change has been made is the material itself. With traditional scaffolding dominating the Western and Middle Eastern regions for over half a century, the fundamental design has changed very little since the “Universal Coupler” of 1919 in combination with tubular steel water pipes, outside of the advent of the cuplock system. Today, ringlock provides a significant number of benefits when benchmarked against its forebearer, including greater durability and faster assembly times while being lighter and easier to manage, all of which add up to significant cost savings for the operator, so what are the challenges that stop contractors from replacing their stock?
“There are several challenges when it comes to replacing scaffolding inventory. Firstly, as a region, companies like to stick to what they know. In the case of traditional scaffolding, while it may not be the most efficient product on the market, it gets the job done. With ringlock now firmly established as a superior product, many businesses understand its benefits, however, are unwilling to replace their existing stock until it has fully depreciated. There is also the valid short-term view for contractors to evaluate how a new scaffolding system will impact their costs. From a practicality point of view, while ringlock has fewer components and is essentially far easier to use, there is the additional task of contractors requiring to train their personnel with the new system.”
While each of these points are valid, there is no denying that the long overdue revamp of the construction sector is in full effect, with cloud-based collaboration, automation, 3D printing and UAV’s all providing strategic advantages previously unavailable a decade ago.
“Onboarding any new process, product or technology comes at a cost; however, in the mid to long term, contractors that commit to this inevitable investment will start to pull away from their competitors quickly in the mid to long term. This will be particularly true when looking at scaffolding in the oil and gas sector.
Those who work on shipyards where timelines are very tight and turnaround times really matter, the time saved by using a ringlock system provides a positive knock-on effect. By increasing the efficiency of the work, which is estimated to be between 20 – 40%, you require fewer personnel on site. In doing so, you reduce the number of man hours, which reduces the risk of accidents not to mention fewer visas and lower administrative costs. If starting in a new territory, ringlock is an easier system to train unskilled workers; which will be a particular advantage in countries such as Egypt and Iraq where demand is anticipated to increase.
When considering the number of times a contractor erects and dismantles scaffolding on a number of projects, the cumulative time saving provides a significant operational benefit. Contractors must consider the hidden cost in continuing to use traditional scaffold with the excess man-hours and its implications.
There’s no doubt we are enduring an unprecedented period that has caused our industry to pause, however, once business resumes, time will be extremely valuable and those contractors with the fastest and most agile products and teams will have a unique advantage.”