Rob­bie Nel­son, mod­u­lar sys­tems di­vi­sion man­ager at BK Gulf, shows how its UAEbased mod­u­lar fa­cil­ity is rev­o­lu­tion­is­ing the MEP sec­tor in the re­gion

MEP Middle East - - CONTENTS -

MEP Mid­dle East vis­its Dubai-based BKG (BK Gulf) Mod­u­lar Sys­tems, one of UAE’s lead­ing sup­plier ded­i­cated to off-site fab­ri­ca­tion of MEP ser­vices.

Fac­tory-pro­duced pre-en­gi­neered MEP mod­ules that are de­liv­ered to a site and as­sem­bled are an in­tel­li­gent and ad­vanced form of con­struc­tion method­ol­ogy. Dubai-based BKG (BK Gulf) Mod­u­lar Sys­tems is at the fore­front of mod­u­lar con­struc­tion and the com­pany claims it is UAE’s lead­ing sup­plier ded­i­cated to off-site fab­ri­ca­tion of MEP ser­vices. Now cel­e­brat­ing its 10th-year an­niver­sary, BKG Mod­u­lar Sys­tems has been pro­duc­ing be­spoke MEP ser­vices mod­ules and mod­u­lar wiring so­lu­tions for the UAE mar­ket. The firm has catered to projects such as Abu Dhabi New York Uni­ver­sity, Dubai Opera House, and Dubai Mall.

Rob­bie Nel­son, mod­u­lar sys­tems di­vi­sion man­ager at BK Gulf, takes MEP Mid­dle East on a guided tour of BKG Mod­u­lar Sys­tems’ fac­tory in Ja­bel Ali In­dus­trial Area, Dubai. Nel­son says: “Dur­ing peak times, we have about 350 peo­ple in­clud­ing fab­ri­ca­tors, engi­neers and ad­min­is­tra­tion staff in the fa­cil­ity. Ev­ery­thing you see within our mod­ule has been de­vel­oped from the con­sul­tant’s de­sign, through co­or­di­na­tion and 3D modelling. We are pro­duc­ing ex­actly what is there in the de­tailed model. The whole fac­tory is a con­trolled en­vi­ron­ment.”

BK Gulf’s Mod­u­lar Sys­tems Di­vi­sion was es­tab­lished in 2008. The 77,000 square feet pur­pose built fa­cil­ity is ca­pa­ble of de­liv­er­ing up to 1,800 mod­ules per month. Nel­son says: “At the mo­ment, we’re pro­duc­ing 1,200 to 1,400 mod­ules in a month, and that’s just for our stan­dard cor­ri­dor riser mod­ules. In ad­di­tion to that, we have 15,000m2 of GI duct­work [fa­cil­ity]. We also have mod­u­lar wiring pro­duc­tion, and have re­cently started the fab­ri­ca­tion of pre-in­su­lated duct­work.”

All of the firm’s ca­pa­bil­ity was demon­strated in the de­liv­ery of the Ad­dress Down­town Dubai re­fur­bish­ment project, where 1,035 mul­ti­ser­vice mod­ules were man­u­fac­tured and in­stalled in 26 days to com­plete 15 floors of the build­ing. Nel­son says that the de­mand has pushed the firm to boost its pro­duc­tion ca­pac­ity. “We’ve in­creased our pro­duc­tion sub­stan­tially over the last four years. We’ve gone from pro­duc­ing about 5,000 mod­ules in 2013 for a sin­gle project, with a sin­gle con­trac­tor to cur­rently pro­duc­ing over 12,000 mod­ules, for up to seven dif­fer­ent projects si­mul­ta­ne­ously,” Nel­son proudly says.


The pro­duc­tion room that has 10 pro­duc­tion lines, which pro­duces, as­sem­bles and line checks up to 6 by 6 me­tre mod­ules at a time. Nel­son ex­plains: “We have prepa­ra­tion ar­eas for plumb­ing sys­tems, elec­tri­cal con­tain­ment, chilled wa­ter and in­su­la­tion. Since our fab­ri­ca­tion draw­ings are pro­duced from a 3D model, we pro­vide in­di­vid­ual de­tailed draw­ings and cut­ting lists to the prepa­ra­tion [teams]. Th­ese pre-pre­pared sec­tions are then placed in the prepa­ra­tion racks for fi­nal assem­bly.”

The fa­cil­ity also has a mod­u­lar wiring work­shop. Nel­son says: “Mod­u­lar wiring is a plug-and-play in­stal­la­tion for all light­ing and small power cir­cuitry down­stream of the dis­tri­bu­tion board. We have wiring looms which are pre-wired con­duits, with male and fe­male plugs at­tached. We take the tra­di­tional de­sign for a project, pre­mea­sure the wiring lengths, fab­ri­cate it to the ex­act length and add the plugs. The ca­bles are then ref­er­enced and tested. This will also in­clude the fi­nal fix items such as switch plates, sock­ets and lu­mi­naires which are all pre-wired with the cor­re­spond­ing plugs. It’s a com­plete plug and play in­stal­la­tion.”

I think as pre­fab­ri­ca­tion grows in the mar­ket, the knowl­edge within the en­gi­neer­ing com­mu­nity also grows with it.″

Nel­son would later show us the ap­pli­ca­tion of th­ese mod­ules at the on­go­ing MEP works in Jebel Ali Park Ho­tel, where the project scope in­cludes 1,200 MEP ser­vices mod­ules, 400 FCU (fan coil unit) mod­ules and mod­u­lar wirings for 380 rooms [pic­ture of site on page 19].


Ac­cord­ing to Nel­son, the mar­ket is im­prov­ing quite rad­i­cally when it comes to pre­fab-

ri­ca­tion. Elab­o­rat­ing on the mar­ket, Nel­son says: “I think the mar­ket is partly driven by the com­plex­ity and com­pet­i­tive­ness of the Mid­dle East mar­ket. The Mid­dle East, and UAE es­pe­cially, is well known for iconic projects. But time con­straints around such projects are tight. And so, peo­ple are look­ing for al­ter­na­tive meth­ods of de­liv­er­ing such projects. Pre­fab­ri­ca­tion is one of them.”

But can com­plex struc­tures be mod­u­larised? Ac­cord­ing to Nel­son, yes. He adds: “I think that in terms of pre­fab­ri­ca­tion, ev­ery­thing we do is be­spoke. We are pre­fab­ri­cat­ing the MEP ser­vices to fit in all types of build­ings. There’s a com­mon mis­con­cep­tion that pre­fab­ri­ca­tion only fits a cer­tain model that’s repet­i­tive and that it has to be a square build­ing. That’s true and we can pro­duce mod­ules quicker than in the typ­i­cal method.

“How­ever, what we find that in all sorts of projects, es­pe­cially here in the UAE, build­ings have unique de­signs. In the past, we have ex­e­cuted projects such as the Al Bahr Tow­ers, Abu Dhabi, which are twin-cylin­dri­cal tow­ers where we pre­fab­ri­cated the whole cor­ri­dor. Also for the Dubai Opera House, we mod­u­larised sec­tions of MEP and in­stalled them. So, we’re able to bring the ben­e­fits of off-site man­u­fac­tur­ing to any type of in­stal­la­tion.”

An­other im­por­tant point to un­der­stand is the ex­tent to which an MEP mod­ule be mod­u­larised. Nel­son says that that the firm is “al­ways try­ing to im­prove and ex­tend the level of pre­fab­ri­ca­tion in a project”. He ex­plains: “Ini­tially, we started with duct­work, pipework, and elec­tri­cal con­tain­ment mod­ules. That’s grown over the past 10 years. Now, we’ve in­cluded mod­u­lar wiring as part of our ca­pa­bil­i­ties and now we are in­clud­ing fan coil units with valve pack­ages and elec­tri­cal con­nec­tions. We’re look­ing to in­cor­po­rate some parts of the build­ing struc­ture. For ex­am­ple, the top of the heads of cor­ri­dor walls will be part of the mod­ule. We hope to in­clude dif­fer­ent parts of the build­ing struc- ture, as the mod­u­lar sys­tem de­vel­ops.”

The ex­tent of mod­u­lar­i­sa­tion largely de­pends on the end client. He says: “The clients are all aware of off-site man­u­fac­tur­ing. They’re aware of the ben­e­fits it brings to their project. One of the things that I think we can bring with our ex­pe­ri­ences is the level [of mod­u­lar­i­sa­tion] that can be taken to. The more we can in­cor­po­rate, the more ben­e­fits we can bring to the site from an off­set man­u­fac­tur­ing point of view.”


The key aim of any pre­fab­ri­ca­tor or off-site man­u­fac­turer is in­creas­ing the qual­ity, ef­fi­ciency and pro­duc­tiv­ity; re­duce wastage; and im­prove health and safety. He adds: “We pro­vide ben­e­fit to both the MEP sec­tor as well as the con­trac­tor. On the de­sign side, we are adding a lot of de­tails to the 3D model when it comes to man­u­fac­tur­ing and in­stalling any MEP ser­vices. We main­tain their de­sign. What is mod­elled and what is drawn is what is be­ing pro­duced.

“Typ­i­cally, in a tra­di­tional build, you can end up do­ing some­thing that wasn’t in­tended by the de­signer. That can ei­ther com­pro­mise the per­for­mance of the sys­tem or in­crease the fi­nal main­te­nance [cost] for the client. We pro­vide ben­e­fit to the [MEP] con­trac­tor in a much more straight­for­ward way. We are able to re­duce the de­pen­den­cies that he has on the main con­trac­tor. When you’re build­ing tra­di­tion­ally, you’re wait­ing on the walls to be built. We can pro­duce cor­ri­dors and ris­ers, all be­fore the struc­tures are even built.”

This es­sen­tially is a par­al­lel con­struc­tion method­ol­ogy, which al­lows the main build­ing struc­ture to be erected in tan­dem with the off-site fab­ri­ca­tion of MEP ser­vices, re­duc­ing de­pen­den­cies and po­ten­tial de­lays

to the progress of the works.

When it comes to qual­ity, BKG Mod­u­lar Sys­tems has a strin­gent process. It has an in-house QA (qual­ity as­sur­ance) depart­ment that mon­i­tors and re­views from the start of a project the ma­te­ri­als com­ing in and the fi­nal prod­uct that’s go­ing out. In ad­di­tion, there is a three-stage in­spec­tion for ev­ery mod­ule that it is pro­duced. Nel­son says: “Qual­ity is in the heart of ev­ery­thing we do. We en­sure that in our pro­duc­tion lines, we have the space avail­able to pro­duce full cor­ri­dors so they can be seen, ver­i­fied, and mea­sured, both by us and the client. This is done to en­sure what we’re giv­ing to the end-client is of the high­est qual­ity and the mod­ule will go and fit in first time.”

Nel­son ad­mits that de­spite the ad­van­tages, one of the chal­lenges in pre­fab­ri­ca­tion is early en­gage­ment. “The ear­lier we can be en­gaged in a project, the more lead time we have for co­or­di­na­tion, pro­cure­ment, fab­ri­ca­tion, and de­liv­ery. When we get in­volved at a later stage, there’s bit more catch­ing up to do. That’s one of the main the main chal­lenges.”

Lo­gis­tics is an­other chal­lenge, says Nel­son. “Rather than ship­ping in­di­vid­ual small com­po­nents to a project, we’re ship­ping huge mod­ules that can some­times weigh up to a cou­ple of tonnes. Lo­gis­tics is some­thing we look at closely. With the ex­pe­ri­ence we have in the team, we pro­duce spe­cific lo­gis­tics plans for projects or clients, on how we’re go­ing to phys­i­cally de­liver the mod­ules and how we are go­ing to co­or­di­nate.”

More and more MEP engi­neers in this re­gion are aware of the pre­fab­ri­ca­tion revo­lu­tion tak­ing place. For the past 10 years, the firm has worked with a whole ar­ray of clients, con­sul­tants, and engi­neers deal­ing with pre­fab­ri­ca­tion. He con­cludes: “The pos­i­tive thing I’m see­ing now is that the peo­ple who have worked with us in the past, are ac­tu­ally com­ing back to us­ing pre­fab­ri­ca­tion. They’ve seen the ben­e­fits that pre­fab­ri­ca­tion has brought to their project, and they’ve wit­nessed new ways to use it.

“I think as pre­fab­ri­ca­tion grows in the mar­ket, the knowl­edge within the en­gi­neer­ing com­mu­nity also grows with it.”

The main pro­duc­tion area at the fac­tory; the pro­duc­tion room has 10 pro­duc­tion lines.

CNC (com­puter nu­mer­i­cal con­trol) cut­ting of GI duct­work pieces.

Mod­u­lar wiring work­shop.

Jebel Ali Park Ho­tel site. BKG Mod­u­lar Sys­tems pro­vides 1,200 MEP ser­vices mod­ules, 400 FCU (fan coil unit) mod­ules and mod­u­lar wirings for 380 rooms.

Rob­bie Nel­son, mod­u­lar sys­tems di­vi­sion man­ager, BK Gulf.

Muham­mad Saleem, su­per­in­ten­dent, mod­u­lar sys­tems di­vi­sion.

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