In­no­va­tion on A Grow­ing Scale

Asia Outlook - - Contents - Writer: Matthew Staff | Project Man­ager: Tom Cul­lum

The world’s lead­ing façade con­sul­tancy

Mein­hardt Façade Tech­nol­ogy’s port­fo­lio, mar­ket reach and in­ter­nal acu­men speaks for it­self, but the Com­pany re­fuses to rest on its lau­rels as it tar­gets even more con­certed growth in the years to come

30 years is a long time in the in­dus­trial world, with the need to keep up with, and stay ahead of, ever-chang­ing trends and re­quire­ments an at­tribute that few can main­tain. Mein­hardt Façade Tech­nol­ogy (MFT) is a prime ex­am­ple of an en­ter­prise to have achieved just that though, and as one of the Mein­hardt Group’s most sig­nif­i­cant sub­sidiaries, its project port­fo­lio is tes­ta­ment to this abil­ity to re­main rel­e­vant and thriv­ing in such a chal­leng­ing sec­tor.

“We have a for­mi­da­ble track record of more than 1,500 iconic projects around the world cov­er­ing more than 25 mil­lion square me­tres of façade sur­faces (equiv­a­lent to 3,300 foot­ball fields) and 50,000 floors (equiv­a­lent to 580 Eif­fel Tow­ers),” elab­o­rates the Com­pany’s Man­ag­ing Di­rec­tor, Paul Grove.

Mein­hardt Façade Tech­nol­ogy is a multi­na­tional façade con­sul­tancy com­prised of 11 of­fices strate­gi­cally lo­cated to reach an in­ter­na­tional client base across Asia, the Mid­dle East and Europe. Grove ac­counts for Lon­don to Mel­bourne while his ac­com­pa­ny­ing MD, Sunny Fok covers Hong Kong, China and the Philip­pines from his of­fice in the former. Ad­di­tional of­fices in Dubai, Sin­ga­pore, In­dia, In­done­sia, and soon Ger­many com­plete the struc­ture, and the 198 full-time em­ploy­ees that grace this com­pli­ment help to ex­tend one of the most con­certed ser­vice of­fer­ings in the in­dus­try.

Grove ex­plains: “Our core ser­vice re­volves around façade en­gi­neer­ing and con­sul­tancy, and façade ac­cess con­sul­tancy. We tend to fo­cus on our core business, while other dis­ci­plines such as ESD are con­trolled un­der our Group com­pany. This al­lows us to re­ally con­cen­trate on what we do best.

“Although we are part of a larger group we have li­cence to op­er­ate and win projects in­de­pen­dently, so apart from sup­port­ing our Group by of­fer­ing the spe­cial­ist in‐house façade sup­port, ap­prox­i­mately 80 per cent of our projects world­wide are se­cured in­de­pen­dently. This makes MFT dif­fer­ent from many other large façade con­sul­tan­cies around the world and we be­lieve it al­lows us to have closer re­la­tion­ships with our clients.”

Ex­cit­ing projects

By hav­ing such a mul­ti­tude of strate­gi­cally lo­cated of­fices around op­er­at­ing con­ti­nents, the Com­pany is able to mo­bilise more quickly and ef­fi­ciently for each prospec­tive project en­cap­su­lated within that given foot­print.

A re­cent ex­am­ple in re­cent times has been Viet­nam which ben­e­fits from col­lab­o­ra­tive in­flu­ences from MFT’s Thai­land and Sin­ga­pore of­fices.

“We need to en­sure that the rel­e­vant of­fices are shar­ing business leads to avoid du­pli­ca­tion of clients, but we mit­i­gate this chal­lenge with suc­cess­ful, on­go­ing com­mu­ni­ca­tion. And once de­mand has reached a cer­tain level in a new re­gion or mar­ket, we will make a strate­gic move to set up a lo­cal of­fice there,” Grove says. “This then al­lows us to have some­body lo­cal to con­trol and di­rectly serve the clients.

“Clients want to have a lo­cal per­son there full-time as the re­quire­ments for meet­ings at short no­tice can be very

de­mand­ing, and we need to en­sure we can meet those de­mands for our clients.”

De­spite the ex­po­nen­tial growth that has been achieved over the years, a close-knit col­lab­o­ra­tive cul­ture has been re­tained, each of­fice lever­ag­ing the lo­cal knowl­edge-base and cul­tural aware­ness of its coun­ter­parts to make the process for any re­peat clients as seam­less as pos­si­ble. Of course, this has taken on an ex­tra di­men­sion through MFT’s broader ex­pan­sion into the Mid­dle East, but once again flex­i­bil­ity and com­mu­ni­ca­tion have off­set any po­ten­tial pit­falls dur­ing the tran­si­tion.

In­evitably, such an ap­proach has man­i­fested into nu­mer­ous at­tained high-pro­file projects that con­tinue to ce­ment the Com­pany’s stand­ing in the global sec­tor.

Grove de­tails: “Most of the de­sign work in which we are in­volved is at a very early con­cept stage, but we are work­ing on some ex­cit­ing projects in­clud­ing on a ma­jor air­port ex­pan­sion where we are work­ing on the over­all façade en­ve­lope to the air­port con­courses. We are also work­ing on a com­plex statue project in In­dia, which is quite unique and prob­a­bly the most un­usual façade project we have un­der­taken.”

Mov­ing to even grander heights, and MFT’s ex­pe­ri­ence with su­per­tall and mega-tall tow­ers is even more im­pres­sive, as Grove con­tin­ues:

“Over the years, Mein­hardt Façade Tech­nol­ogy has been work­ing on the façade de­sign, façade fab­ri­ca­tion and façade in­stal­la­tion works on both su­per­tall (>300 me­tres) and mega-tall tow­ers (>600 me­tres).

“Just re­cently, Mein­hardt Façade Tech­nol­ogy had a com­plete façade qual­ity con­trol team based on-site at the Jed­dah Tower, pre­vi­ously known

as King­dom Tower and Mile-High Tower. Once fin­ished, this tower will be the world’s first build­ing up in the clouds of one-kilo­me­tre high. This unique ex­per­tise en­ables Mein­hardt Façade Tech­nol­ogy to con­sult any client or façade con­trac­tor on the chal­lenges associated with the de­sign, fab­ri­ca­tion, lo­gis­tics and in­stal­la­tion of these chal­leng­ing build­ings.”

Façade tech­nol­ogy evolves quickly

In­ter­nally, a host of con­tin­u­ous im­prove­ment ini­tia­tives are em­ployed to fa­cil­i­tate such op­er­a­tions on site; largely led by a re­search and de­vel­op­ment team that en­sures the Com­pany is liv­ing up to its tech­no­log­i­cal ex­pec­ta­tions and re­main­ing ahead of all in­dus­try curves.

Grove ex­pands: “Façade tech­nol­ogy evolves quickly, driven by ar­chi­tec­tural de­mands for more and more com­plex façade ge­ome­tries. Mein­hardt Façade Tech­nol­ogy is among the world’s lead­ing con­sul­tants for these com­plex fa­cades, hav­ing re­fined ex­ist­ing tech­ni­cal op­tions as well as hav­ing de­vel­oped new ge­om­e­try ap­proaches and tech­nolo­gies.

“The op­tions, ‘Shifted Lou­vre’, ‘Fish Scale’ and ‘Cold Bend­ing – Warped’ were im­ple­mented by Mein­hardt Façade Tech­nol­ogy on var­i­ous high­rise build­ings world­wide. In ad­di­tion, Mein­hardt pre­sented var­i­ous new de­vel­op­ments in­clud­ing the sin­gle cor­ner cold bend­ing and the novel freeform shape cold bend­ing tech­nol­ogy at in­ter­na­tion­ally-renowned façade con­fer­ences in Europe, Mid­dle East and the US.”

One big re­cent in­vest­ment to com­pound this ad­her­ence to mod­ern trends is in the area of soft­ware up­grades, mak­ing sure that all en­gi­neer­ing soft­ware is up-to­date. The num­ber of projects be­ing com­pleted us­ing BIM has also risen in ac­cor­dance with in­dus­try ex­pec­ta­tions as Grove adds: “We have had to sig­nif­i­cantly up­date our BIM soft­ware and hard­ware to be able to han­dle and ma­nip­u­late large mod­els. The mod­els are quite heavy and re­quire the cor­rect hard­ware to be able to ac­cess them. This has re­ally come into ef­fect in the past 24 months, so the façade op­er­a­tion had to catch up with this re­quire­ment.”

From then on, the ma­jor­ity of MFT’s in­ter­nal in­vest­ments re­volve around one crit­i­cal com­po­nent of the over­all struc­ture: The Com­pany’s peo­ple.

With the suc­cess of each of­fice now af­firmed and de­vel­op­ment plans in place for each, it is down to the em­ploy­ees housed in each re­spec­tive lo­ca­tion to ful­fil these ob­jec­tives. Ad­dress­ing tech­no­log­i­cal facets, ad­min­is­tra­tive re­spon­si­bil­i­ties, and gen­eral business op­er­a­tions, hu­man re­source (HR) con­tin­ues to serve as one of MFT’s great­est strengths.

“This is vi­tally im­por­tant as this is

some­thing that re­ally stands out with our clients,” Grove notes. “For gen­eral hir­ing we utilise the com­pany web­site and list on lo­cal re­cruit­ment sites.

For key po­si­tions, we iden­tify a key can­di­date pro­file and sub­se­quently en­gage a re­cruit­ment con­sul­tancy to reach out to this tal­ent for us.

“We do how­ever like to pro­mote our staff in­ter­nally if the rel­e­vant can­di­dates and po­si­tions be­come avail­able. This is more prac­ti­cal, then we hire from the bot­tom which al­lows us to bring in less se­nior staff and train them in­ter­nally.”

In­no­va­tors in what we do

By adopt­ing a pro­mo­tive and en­rich­ing HR phi­los­o­phy, the Com­pany is di­rectly serv­ing as a so­cial en­abler across each of its pres­ence points. And from there on, its core spe­cial­ties come to the fore to fur­ther af­firm its po­si­tion as one of, if not, the lead­ing façade con­sul­tancy in the world.

“How­ever, that does not mean we will rest on our lau­rels,” Grove is quick to add. “I per­son­ally think we are dif­fer­ent from other multi­na­tional façade con­sul­tants, as we are given au­ton­omy to op­er­ate in­di­vid­u­ally while align­ing to our Group’s vi­sion and mis­sion.

“I also be­lieve we have some of the most tal­ented façade engi­neers and con­sul­tants in our field. We are there­fore able to be in­no­va­tors in what we do, and this re­ally makes a big dif­fer­ence,” the MD con­tin­ues in out­lin­ing MFT’s core dif­fer­en­tia­tors.

He goes on to em­pha­sise that the façade team is also very di­verse, made up of peo­ple from dif­fer­ent ge­o­graphic, tech­ni­cal and in­dus­try back­grounds to help present the best over­all out­look pos­si­ble for prospec­tive clients.

This solid un­der­stand­ing and prac­ti­cal ap­proach to the en­tire project, from con­cep­tion to com­ple­tion, is what will usher in the next 20 years of suc­cess for MFT as it looks to build upon the rep­u­ta­tion and mar­ket stand­ing al­ready achieved.

“In terms of ex­pan­sion, with­out giv­ing too much away, we are look­ing at other coun­tries where we would like to es­tab­lish a façade team with a lo­cal pres­ence,” Grove al­ludes to what’s to come. “Our cur­rent re­gional of­fices do carry out work in other re­gions, and our Group has many more re­gional of­fices than the façade team, so it is key that we work with them and iden­tify ar­eas where there is suf­fi­cient need to es­tab­lish a lo­cal façade team.

“I would also hope that we will add three to four lo­cal of­fices and in­crease the over­all façade team by 15 to 20 per­cent over the next cou­ple of years.

“But key to all of this is our clients, whom we need to build close re­la­tion­ships with, as with­out them there is no need for us to ex­pand.”

AIA cap­i­tal cen­tre, Bangkok, Thai­land

Vi­et­com Bank Tower, Viet­nam. Mein­hardt has been com­mis­sioned to un­der­take the civil and struc­tural de­sign, as well as the façade de­sign, for this 60,000 square me­tre land­mark re­tail bank­ing com­plex and of­fice de­vel­op­ment to be con­structed in Ho Chi Minh City. Lo­cated next to the Saigon River, the 35 storey of­fice de­vel­op­ment will pro­vide grade-A of­fice space to be used by Viet­nam’s largest bank, Vi­et­com Bank, as well as of­fice space for pri­vate ten­ants. The build­ing also fea­tures a four level base­ment and five level podium

AIA Sathorn Tower, Thai­land. Mein­hardt pro­vided 29 storeys Grade-A of­fice build­ing with 70,000 square me­tre, to­tal GFA, col­umn free de­sign. Full scope of ser­vice from in­ti­tal con­cept de­sign through to project re­al­i­sa­tion. With a typ­i­cal floor plan of 2,000 square me­tres, stand­ing 130 me­tre above the ground with a sin­gle base­ment level hous­ing main me­chan­i­cal, elec­tri­cal and plumb­ing. The project in­cludes a mul­ti­level car park with two base­ments

Il­ham Baru Tower,Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Rose­wood Ho­tel, Bangkok, Thai­land

Cen­tral Em­bassy, Bangkok, Thai­land

Jasa Kita Group (JKG), Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

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