The heavy equipment industry gets its own Dubai show as optimism grows
A LOOK INTO WHAT VISITORS CAN EXPECT FROM THE BIG 5 HEAVY
The month of March sees the launch of a new event for those involved in the construction and concrete industry in the GCC called Big-5 Heavy. For years, the industry was invited to the twin PM6 ,ive and Middle East Concrete shows that were slotted alongside the perennial Big-5 show in November, but the organisers dmg events felt that more could be done to effectively cater to the needs of the concrete, construction, mining, and Quarrying machinery industries.
Not only have PM6 ,ive and Middle East Concrete been given their own platform, other sections such as Foundations and Geotechnical, Mining and Quarrying, and Road Construction have been fused into the event. Dmg events will be hoping that this heady representation of the construction and concrete industry will be a (pardon the pun) big draw for the contractors, property developers, local municipalities, and government authorities it hopes to attract to the event.
“Concrete equipment, tower cranes, earth moving machines, drilling, and mining don’t traditionally sit within a building materials show like The Big-5 Heavy. There is a specilc need for a standalone heavy construction exhibition that caters to the Middle East market,” says event director for The Big-5 Heavy, Richard Pavitt.
While the GCC market has been a challenging environment for the construction industry since the price of oil began to fall at the end of 0 , there are promising signs that the market could be beginning to recover. Recent research by analysts such as BNC Network and MEED have suggested that the total number of active projects in the region could be valued at anywhere between - . tn.
Furthermore, research by BNC Network on behalf of dmg events suggests there are nearly ,000 active projects underway with the total value of tender announcements increasing substantially in 2017 by 50.2%. The organisers believe it suggests that the time is right for the Big-5 Heavy launch.
“The GCC infrastructure expansion continues at a breathless pace despite recent headwinds and The Big-5 Heavy is bringing all the major buyers and manufacturers together,” adds Pavitt.
While it is not unusual for exhibition organisers to feel positive regarding a
market’s fortunes, particularly when an event needs to be promoted, there are many exhibitors that share its outlook.
Nagham Al Zahlawi, strategy and marketing manager at NFT Cranes, says that Expo 2020 and Dubai’s ambition to be a global hub will bring signilcant growth to the construction sector in the 5AE for the next few years. He does, however, add that the biggest challenge for the globallyrecognised crane supplier is a current lack of liquidity in the market.
“Contractors are less willing to invest in tower cranes for long stretches and are focusing on a project-toproject basis,” he says. This tunnel vision is less risky but costlier and less eflcient in the long run. Also, more education is needed on the advantage of tower cranes versus other product categories as well as more focus on Quality over price.”
Despite these challenges and looking ahead, Al Zahlawi views factors such as governmental support and vision, tourism, and increasing population as well as improving policy and regulations as major growth drivers for the company.
“We are optimistic about the future. The region has so much more potential to grow and is far from saturation,” he says. “We expect a larger need for high capacity equipment like giant tower cranes (60T and more) especially for luflng and an increasing appreciation for self-erecting machines. We also anticipate that there will be more regulations in construction with stricter focus on Quality and safety.”
Fellow exhibitor Wael Hasan, the Middle East commercial manager at Raimondi Cranes, describes the UAE’S “forward-trajectory as a nation” as a major growth driver for the KBW Investments-owned manufacturer. “The UAE sees innovation as a prized characteristic in its private sector and it champions private sector valuecreation,” he says. “This is one of the reasons that Raimondi has a Middle East base of operations in Dubai; the economic climate here is such that there really is a murry of high Quality development and growth potential.”
He continues: “The opportunities in the GCC construction sector for a company like Raimondi Cranes are truly limitless. We see only growth in the future, and a countless number of potential partnerships that are about to come to fruition. In terms of infrastructure, it’s exciting for us as a heavy machinery company.”
Echoing Al Zahlawi’s assessment of a lack of liquidity in the market, he says that @budget’ heavy lifting companies are the biggest challenge not just for Raimondi, but for all “Quality premiere” manufacturers. “I’m sure our peers in the crane industry feel the same way,” he says. “Customers who are price-sensitive may see short-term gain in opting for a budget model, but nothing could be further from the truth.”
Franz Freiherr von Redwitz, managing director, MAN Truck & Bus Middle East, agrees that the market has been challenging but the construction industry should be cautiously optimistic in the UAE.
“The Expo 2020 preparations are helping to provide more projects in Dubai especially in the construction sector,” he remarks before adding that MAN is excited by the potential of the UAE market, especially in the runup to Expo 2020 and a bigger focus on safer roads in the country (MAN has recently worked alongside Dubai Police to help improve road safety), as well as a change to a cleaner standard in vehicles emissions.
“MAN has seen a positive expansion with regards to the Expo 2020 Dubai giving opportunities to different businesses,” he says. “We are fully prepared for the introduction of Euro - we have full range of vehicles available in this emission standards.”
Italian company MB Crusher will be at the event after contributing its crushing and screening buckets to infrastructure projects across the GCC. “The Middle East market is dynamic and grows at a high speed,” says Najmeddine Sahraoui. “There are many infrastructure projects for the future where our machines will be necessary MB attachments are the solution to all those scenarios.”
Deewan Equipment Trading will be demonstrating its new concrete printing technology at the show. Eng Ghaith A Yaseen, managing partner, Deewan, says that it enables you to print anything you wish to print on a concrete surface, “even your picture!”
According to Eng Yaseen, the opportunities in the GCC are not limited to Dubai.
“GCC states are the fastest developing countries in the world. They have placed time-based development plans in all sectors, including infrastructure, housing, environment, transportation, technology, and industry,” he remarks.
“;You have= the 26,500sqkm NEOM city in Saudi Arabia; Expo 2020 Dubai; metros in various cities; Middle East rail; and major development projects announced by oil and gas companies are major opportunities. The NEOM project will be backed by more than $500bn from the Saudi government, its sovereign wealth fund, local and international investors.”
Francois Saab, general manager at lift specialists Carlstahl, warns that growth in the market is being restricted as the GCC governments are taking precautionary measures to cope with the volatility of oil prices. He adds: “Recent budgets remect the GCC governmentsg efforts to instil lscal discipline and cut wasteful expenditures.”
To cope with market requirements and demand, he explains that Carl Stahl is focusing on Quality, reducing its expenses, and following more eflcient strategies and technologies: “We are also continuously working to develop and increase our range of products and services,” he says.
Saab argues that, despite the challenges he has highlighted, the future is looking good for the market in the region.
“While the GCC continues to develop and the UAE proves itself as the best place to invest, work, and live in,” he says. “If we look at the construction market in the recent past, the ongoing projects, the announced events, and the ambitious plans ahead, we have a solid indication of the great potential of this market in the future.”
One of the major names at the event will be Al Bahar, which will ensure a rare exhibition outing for Caterpillar’s machines in the region. The distributor also represents Trimble’s civil engineering technology via SITECH Gulf. Andrew Caldwell, region manager, Trimble Civil Engineering and Construction, says that looking beyond Expo 2020 Dubai, the construction market, especially in its core infrastructure and civil engineering segments, should remain strong for many years ahead.
“There’s a long-term vision and the plans for the UAE, in particular, means there is a lot of development,” he says. “With any country that is as young as that one, once you get past a certain stage you then need to look at the refurbishment and expansion of existing infrastructure. The region still has a lot of promise.”