Special report: “Holding our position as a recognised market leader”

CW’s formwork knowledge partner, RMD Kwikform, discusses their plans to increase market share through sector diversification by taking a selective approach

While we cannot predict how 2021 will fare as the COVID-19 crisis looms over the industry, UK-headquartered RMD Kwikform believes that “significant opportunities” still exist for the formwork sector to grow despite inevitable challenges.

Having a presence in the UAE and wider Middle East region for more than 40 years, RMD Kwikform is regarded as a market leader within the industry and has continually brought new products, safety and efficiency and technical innovation to the market.

The firm has been involved with some of the biggest projects in the region including successfully delivering The Royal Atlantis Resort and Residences, as well as Expo 2020 Dubai’s Al Wasl Plaza, among other projects within Expo 2020’s 4.38km2 site.

Formwork Opportunities

Speaking about the future opportunities for the formwork sector, RMD Kwikform’s country managing director, Andy Teesdale, exclusively told Construction Week that he expects “heightened construction activity” in the likes of Saudi Arabia and Qatar.

“We expect to see heightened construction activity in KSA through the course of 2021 as the planned mega-projects continue to mobilise, while Qatar will continue to offer opportunity in the final build ahead of the World Cup in 2022,” said Teesdale.

“Other opportunities will continue to come from contractors looking to adopt innovative, safe and efficient system formwork solutions to reduce program times, labour and costs.

The role of technology

Elaborating on adaptations from contractors, Teesdale points out that the construction industry has been slow in implementing change and adaptations, but changing how it operates will have “a meaningful and lasting impact”.

“For a long time, the construction industry has been neglected by technology and innovation. However, the industry is finally experiencing an injection of innovation and technology that will have a lasting impact across productivity, safety and connectivity,” says Teesdale.

He added: “Without doubt, engineering and construction firms need to innovate to compete and win projects in order to improve their financial results. Development and effective use of new technology can provide important competitive advantages for engineering and construction firms.

“These advantages stem from technical capability and improvements in operations.”

Teesdale believed that technology would “influence” the future of the construction industry and has proven to be successful especially during 2020.

“Remote working has encouraged companies to revisit the size of their office space and continue to deploy the working from home concept for specific staff and departments to save costs and enhance productivity.”

He added: “There will also be more focus for procurement, providing an efficient and sustainable use of resources will play a decisive future role as a response to the challenges of resource scarcity and climate change. This will go hand in hand with an increased use of renewable resources and alternative sustainable materials.”

For construction specifically, Teesdale went on to say that there would be further inclusions of automation, modular construction and data-driven construction.

“In the future, a high level of automation will lead to fewer people being present on site due to the growing lack of skilled labour, among other factors,” he says. “People will, however, remain an essential part of the automated building site. Their tasks will shift toward the use and application of modern technologies.

“Recycling will also gain even greater significance due to the ecological and political pressures on saving raw materials and reducing landfill requirements.”

Confronting challenges

Although technologies will bring plenty of scope for the industry, Teesdale warned that we must confront challenges with “purpose and speed” in 2021 in order to thrive.

“As the pandemic continues, we cannot predict what 2021 will bring. We will continue to align the business to the current market conditions, while also focusing on limiting risks through a selective approach,” says Teesdale.

“We will monitor operating costs and maximise return on capital employed. The business will stringently review and improve inter-department effiencies and continue to support and service our customers.”

UAE outlook

Earlier Teesdale predicted an uptake of new project wins in the likes of Saudi Arabia and Qatar, but Teesdale admitted that there are on-going challenges and uncertainty in the UAE.

However, he revealed to Construction Week that he is confident these issues are being addressed, and the UAE would become “the regional hot-spot” for investment, development and construction activity going forward.

“The pipeline of new projects in the UAE has reduced significantly over the past 12 months and has been further impacted by COVID-19. We hope this will change throughout the course of 2021 and we see more project awards coming through and a progressive recovery as controls over COVID-19 are implemented.”

With fluctuating market conditions, there has never been a better and more important time to be talking about health and safety.

Health and safety played a huge role in business operations and has been ramped up significantly throughout the global pandemic.

Expanding on the growing role of precautionary measures put in place by the government, Teesdale pledged that health and safety has always been at the forefront of RMD Kwikform’s operations.

“The health and safety of our employees is paramount, with and without a global pandemic. All offices, facilities and work-stations comply with government guidelines,” adds Teesdale. “We have demonstrated our commitment to this by maintaining ISO45001:2018 Occupational Health and Safety certification.”

With many twists and turns expected for 2021, RMD Kwikform’s Teesdale concluded the interview by telling Construction Week: “RMD Kwikform would continue to focus on wider market opportunities, exploring and evaluating opportunities to expand our footprint across the wider Middle East and North Africa and Levant region.”

Source: Construction Week Online

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