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TROX Middle East gets new Managing Director

DUBAI, UAE, 4 June 2021: TROX Group, manufacturer of airside products, has announced the appointment of Saad Ali as Managing Director of the TROX Middle East region.

Saad Ali

Making the announcement through a Press release, the Group said that prior to his current role, Saad served as a VP for Ruskin Titus Middle East, where he was responsible for growth initiatives across the Ruskin’s Group entire portfolio.

Speaking on the occasion, Ali said, “The TROX GROUP has been the leaders of their respective markets, and I look forward to taking on my new responsibilities and working with our new and existing partners throughout the Middle East and Africa.”

Karl Palmstorfer, Head of International Business (EMEA), TROX, said: “He brings deep expertise in HVAC of particular relevance to our expansion agenda, together with broad experience in manufacturing and operations. With Saad Ali, we found the right leader with the same values we stand for. Together, we will create the best indoor air quality in projects for many generations.”

Carel signs agreement to acquire 51% of CFM Soğutma

BRUGINE, Padua, Italy, 10 May 2021: Carel Industries, on May 5, signed a binding agreement for the acquisition of 51% of CFM Soğutma ve Otomasyon A.Ş., a long-standing distributor and partner in Turkey as well as a provider of digital and on-field services and solutions dedicated to OEMs, contractors and end users in the Turkish HVACR market.

CFM’s workforce, based in its 6,500-square-metre Izmir facility, in Turkey, numbers 34, half of whom are part of the technical and engineering team, Carel said.

With major expertise in thermodynamics, mechanics, control and connectivity, CFM offers complete solutions, starting from system design and technical support, during the start-up phase of the plants, up to the remote monitoring and supervision service, Carel said. The offer, which is based on the proposal of the best brands and includes software development and customisation, customer training in its Academy as well as energy management services, allows CFM to stand out significantly, Carel said.

According to Carel, CFM has created a unique business model, demonstrated by its high rate of customer loyalty, its long-standing relationships with the country’s main retail chains and its particularly high profitability.

A peculiar feature of CFM is also that it invoices almost all its sales in euros, thereby protecting itself from fluctuations in the local currency, Carel pointed out. In 2020, CFM reported revenues of 14.5 million euros and EBITDA of five million euros, it said. It is expected that at the time of the closing of the operation the net financial position will be slightly positive, it pointed out.

Carel said the transaction is aligned with two of its key strategic directions: geographical expansion outside western Europe and the development of the services business – on-field and digital. The acquisition, the company said, will allow it to not only establish a direct presence in the important Turkish market and to have a solid platform for the development of its Middle East market but also to adopt a distinctive business model, characterised by a wide range of complementary services. The transaction will also allow it to further develop its potential in synergy with its hardware, IoT and thermodynamic competence, it said. After having established its success in the refrigeration sector, CFM, in fact, has extensive growth potential in air conditioning and humidification, it added.

The closing of the part-acquisition is expected by the end of July 2021 and is subject to obtaining the approval for the transaction from the local antitrust authorities, and meeting other conditions precedent that are characteristic of this type of agreement, Carel said. With this transaction, Carel said, it will take control of the Turkish company through the acquisition of 51% of the share capital of CFM, with an enterprise value of 23.1 million euros for the stake. The acquisition of the remaining 49% of CFM, the valuation of which is tied to the Turkish company’s future results, is governed by a cross-option mechanism between the parties, exercisable between 2024 and 2027, Carel said. This structure in which the current management is heavily involved in the company in the medium term, it added, ensures a complete alignment of interests during the integration period of CFM into CAREL.

dmg on track with The Big 5 Construct Egypt

DUBAI, UAE, 31 March 2021: The Big 5 Construct Egypt is on track to take place in person from June 26 to 29 at the Cairo International Convention Centre (CICC) in a safe environment, event organisers, dmg events said through a Press release. Construction activity in Egypt has continued at pace, despite the coronavirus pandemic and has shown great resilience over the last year, dmg said. In fact, according to GlobalData, construction in Egypt is expected to have grown at 7.7% in 2020 and looks forward to 8.9% growth in 2021, it added.

Muhammed Kazi, Vice President, dmg events, said: “We are delighted to confirm that preparations for The Big 5 Construct Egypt are well underway for our June event, and I am happy to reveal that re-opening this year comes hand in hand with a wealth of new impactful features designed to provide opportunities for the industry to network, learn and do business.

“It is more important now than ever to bring the community together to boost business activities and build strong partnerships for the post-pandemic era, and it is our belief that there is no better way to do this than through powerful face-to-face connections.”

According to dmg, The Big 5 Construct Egypt will showcase the latest construction products and technologies across an extended offering of specialised events. International brands committed to the event despite travel restrictions will join all major Egyptian contractors at the event, including Hassan Allam Holding and Orascom Construction, El Soadaa, ASGC, Hanimex, Al Zamil, Al Ahram, Wellbond, Al Amal and more, dmg said.

Eng. Hassan Allam, CEO, Hassan Allam Holding said: “The massive transformation of Egypt through crucial infrastructure works and strategic megaprojects is set to further contribute to economic growth, whilst solidifying the country’s position as the leading trade hub between Europe, Asia, and Africa.

“As the population grows, it is critical to explore how the country can build on local, regional and international partnerships to realise the value that the infrastructure and construction industry has in sustaining economic development and diversification going forward.” According to dmg, new features set to launch at the 2021 edition include The Big 5 Egypt Leadership Conference, providing insights from Ministers and international leaders through keynote addresses and panel discussions, and The Big 5 Egypt Impact Awards, set to celebrate the people, organisations and projects driving sustainable development, innovation and transformation in Egypt’s construction industry.

The event, dmg said, also offers free-to-attend and CPD-certified Talks. It is supported by Strategic Partner, Hassan Allam Holding; Platinum Sponsor, Orascom Construction and Stone Sponsor, Gremic. The Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB) is on board as Supporting Association, dmg said, adding that Project Management Institute, MENA (PMI, MENA) is the Supporting Partner and ABiQ is the Research Partner.

THE EVOLVING BUILDING-RETROFIT LANDSCAPE

The Middle East’s construction sector remains resilient despite the complexities brought on by 2020. For stakeholders, the resiliency stems from the sector’s ability to withstand difficulties even prior to COVID-19. Providing an example, Majd Fayyad, Technical Manager, Emirates Green Building Council, says that in 2018, the growing oversupply of high-end residential and commercial properties saw investment yields start to fall, way before the pandemic triggered further reductions in construction contract awards in 2020. Fayyad says that though there has been a decline in the value of new contracts in the GCC region – for instance, it went down by 40% to just over USD 4 billion in April 2020 – the outlook for 2021, according to Deloitte, is more optimistic, with the UAE’s GDP set to grow 2.5%.

Phillipa Grant

For Phillipa Grant, Partner and Director of Sustainability, AESG, the construction pipeline is not as dry as people may think. “I think there has been a shift, and Dubai has become a bit more of a regional design hub for the Middle East,” she says. “There is a lot of work being done in Dubai, which covers the wider GCC region, as well as in Africa; so, for the whole MENA region, a lot of new construction is still going on, which is managing to keep the architects and engineers within Dubai busy.”

A more pressing issue affecting project pipelines is the shift in the overall energy intensity in buildings following the onset of COVID-19,with Fayyad pointing out that social distancing measures and teleworking reduced people’s use of commercial buildings, while increasing energy consumption at home. He adds that in the first half of 2020, electricity use in residential buildings in some countries grew by 20-30% while falling by around 10% per cent in commercial building*. “Further, the 2020 Global Status Report for Buildings and Construction states that CO2 emissions from the operation of buildings have increased to their highest level in 2019,” he says.

Majd Fayyad

Overall, Fayyad says there is ample opportunity in 2021 to look at the way buildings are utilised. He points out that these factors are increasing focus on implementing green building best practices in upcoming developments and driving momentum for retrofitting practices, which has already been a strong focus in recent years in the move to achieve greater energy efficiency and reduced emissions and costs. Azmi S Aboulhoda, Director, EMergy Consultancy, shares a similar opinion. “In the UAE, attention towards energy retrofitting has been increasing for several years now,” he says. “It is moving in parallel with the new construction. Recently, few steps have been taken in Saudi Arabia to govern the business and establish guidelines and regulations. With the increase in number of people working remotely, a new concern has been raised that will push the retrofit business in the region towards homes.” Aboulhoda points out that retrofitting holds strong opportunity to enhance the value of buildings and that it will need to be considered not just from an energy perspective but also in the way we use spaces.

Azmi S Aboulhoda

Ronak Monga, Segment Development Manager – Commercial Building Services, Grundfos, says that the same trend can be seen in Oman and Kuwait, as well. “Many of the buildings you see in these countries have now existed for more than ten years,” he says. “These old buildings present a high energy savings potential. Business sectors that operate their buildings, such as hospitals, schools and hotels, have the highest energy savings opportunity in their existing infrastructure. Not only will retrofit ensure smooth operation and maintenance, but it will also significantly reduce operational expenditure, which then improves their bottom line.” He adds that with the pandemic situation, businesses are focusing on keeping operational expense to a minimum to survive the global economic impact brought by COVID-19.

ENERGY FOR THE PURPOSES OF ROI

To date, a lot of the retrofitting initiatives are directed towards addressing the changes in energy consumption profiles. Fayyad points out that with mass teleworking and eLearning shifting activities to the residential subsector and several major companies allowing their workforce the freedom to work from home, existing commercial and office spaces, undoubtedly, need to be adapted, retrofitted and/or repurposed to cater to occupancy profile, be it partial or full. Aboulhoda says that this is the main concern driving building and business owners towards retrofitting, as they will be paying almost the same amount of utility bills, despite the reduced occupancy.

Ronak Monga

Grant adds that these trends have a long-term effect on discussions surrounding office spaces and that this will lead to different streams of thoughts from architects and designers. “A lot of building owners are looking more at flexibility and the use of space in different and more innovative ways,” she says. “This is better than having a vacant space, which is a waste of energy, as you will still need to keep it running; and also, there is the cost impact. So, there will be focus on flexibility, looking at how spaces can be used and how we can make the most of existing stock we have with the changing environment.”

Monga adds that this drastic change in occupancy has brought into focus how buildings perform in part-load conditions – and usually, the efficiency during part load is a focus during design – but has not brought much into focus when buildings are in operation. “This drastic change in occupancy in buildings has brought into attention both during new projects and retrofits how various systems operate in part load,” he says. Fayyad says that a lot of the older building stock is not equipped to handle these challenges, as the existing control systems are outdated or, in some cases, not even present. “Building retrofits in these scenarios can allow owners and facility management to respond adequately using demand-controlled control strategies,” he says. “It not only allows them to save energy and water but also gives them the tools necessary to respond to different occupancy levels. They are also able to record the time-of-use and the energy profile throughout the operations to gather data and optimise their controls and operations.”

Fayyad says that in the UAE, there is an enormous potential in the buildings and construction sector to increase resource and material efficiencies, drive carbon emissions reductions and stimulate economic growth. “Based on the EmiratesGBC’s Building Efficiency Accelerator Project Report, the best hotel and hotel apartment performers consume 58% less energy and 65% less water per unit area than the worst performers in the category,” he says. “The best performers among schools consume 61% less energy and 84% less water per unit area compared to the worst. Among malls, the lowest consumer uses 35% less energy and 58% less water per area compared to the highest consumer.” Fayyad points out that this shows the strong potential for savings and operational efficiencies that can be achieved through remedial actions, such as audits, retrofits, energy management and the use of awareness campaigns or trainings to drive changes in behaviour.

Grant says that there has been a lot of push from a sustainability perspective. “That’s only going to increase, because there is going to be more and more pressure to reduce energy consumption, improve efficiency, reduce carbon, and hit international, regional and local targets,” she says. “So, the pressure is going to mount from a sustainability perspective, which is great, because I think it needs to happen. There needs to be that pressure, and we’re still not on track to hit targets, and there is a lot more that needs to be done across all areas.” An area that Grant says has also been gaining better awareness in retrofits is fire and life safety, especially in existing high-rises, which typically face risk from poor cladding.

FOCUS ON HEALTH AND WELLNESS

In addition to energy-related and fire-and-safety-related building performance, retrofits have placed greater emphasis on occupant health. Aboulhoda says that nowadays, the energy-retrofitting projects are being combined with indoor environmental quality (IEQ) measures through projects that can be categorised as retro-commissioning, where energy is not the only or main concern. “This will attract investors looking forward to overcome the financial crisis of the current and any future pandemics,” he says. This move, Fayyad says, is especially evident in the retail and hospitality sectors. “Consumer confidence and spending were influenced, as employers took steps to manage the impact of COVID-19 by reducing salaries and cutting jobs,” he says. “In light of the ease of restrictions, lockdowns and the availability of vaccines, the tourism and retail sectors are slowly picking up.

These sectors are looking to increase customer confidence and, as a result, are following not only social distancing protocols but also the overall efficient operations of their facilities.” Fayyad points to ASHRAE and REHVA, which have released guidance for safe HVAC operations for the prevention of transmission of COVID-19 indoors, and these practices stem from proper IAQ and IEQ practices. “Increased outdoor-to-indoor ventilation and filtration, however, does increase energy consumption, and the only way to mitigate this is through efficient operations and/or retrofits,” he says. “This is not only limited to retail or hospitality but other sectors, as well, such as schools and commercial buildings. In critical times such as this, owners are increasingly aware that their buildings’ operations should not only have minimal costs but also be safe.”

Fayyad adds that the guidance developed by ASHRAE and REHVA rely on the core principles of sustainable and green buildings. “Research has shown that health and wellbeing features have a positive effect on employee retention and mental health as well reduced operational costs. This is a win-win situation for building owners and tenants, as owners do not have to spend as much capital on maintenance and operations,” he says. “Tenants, in turn, enjoy the benefits of a healthier indoor environment and do not have to pay as much on their utilities. Several businesses, especially in hospitality and retail, are now obliged to ensure health and safety in buildings as a top priority. Their business revenue is now more than ever related to how seriously they take actions to ensure the safety of their guests, visitors and occupants.”

AboulHoda echoes this, saying that IEQ has become crucial for a successful retrofit. “COVID-19 has increased the awareness among building and business owners,” he says. “Further, COVID-19 has added another dimension of retrofit measures, such as economisers, which will more efficiently introduce outside air in buildings, and personalised systems, which will avoid running full systems when partial occupancies take place. The measures taken by building and business owners are more focused into concentrated hygiene practices that can be observed by occupants and visitors and can result in some kind of assurance. However, system-wise measures are yet to evolve, since they encounter high capital investments.”

For Grant, there was already a definite shift in mindset toward health and wellness being considered as part of sustainability even before the pandemic. “Buildings are expanding to have that social health and welfare aspect from a design perspective, which is really great to see,” she says. “This was already happening, pre-COVID, and of course, COVID shone a light on health on a global scale to make sure people have healthy and safe spaces to live and work. I would expect additional drivers to that growing area and field. It will shift the way residential design is considered.”

Monga is in agreement, adding that pre-COVID, there was a lot of talk about improvement of employee productivity in relation to IAQ and IEQ “But the safety and health aspect of it has increased even more during the pandemic,” he says. “COVID-19 has also increased the focus on water disinfection – controlling the growth of any micro-organisms, like Legionella, in the water that we use on a day-to-day basis is equally important to stop the spread of communicable diseases.” Grant believes while there has been positive movement, more needs to be done. “I would still say, we are not seeing as much activity in retrofit as we would like to,” she says. “It would be great from a sustainability perspective to see that part of the market incentivised more to promote improvements in the existing buildings stock. I know there are regulations and government incentives coming into play. I should say that would hopefully stimulate more retrofit activities. We are hoping to still see more happen.”

Fayyad agrees. “While the efforts taken by the UAE government in this direction are commendable, we must continue to push the building and construction sector towards greater efficiencies and to lower the carbon emissions,” he says. “We only have a few years to meet the Paris Agreement targets, and now is the right time to start looking at deep retrofits as a key step in this journey.” Fayyad recommends achieving deep buildings retrofits, targeting 50% energy reduction by decreasing energy demand and implementing energy efficiency measures before adding on-site renewables. “In fact, 50% energy reduction is a realistic target for poor performing buildings, as our Deep Retrofit Study identified,” he says. Elaborating more on this study, Fayyad says that all respondents showed a positive position, with a majority agreeing that deep retrofits are achievable in the UAE with an acceptable payback period using the current technologies available in the market. “While most in the private sector agree that retrofits should be mandated, the developers prefer that building rating schemes should be made compulsory, instead, or retrofits made voluntary with more financial incentives developed,” he says. “Developers also agreed that an annual reduction target of 11-20% (in kWh) is adequate, should retrofits be mandated.”

Monga says that possibly having an incentive-based model, where higher commercial value is given to energy-efficient buildings, would be a “dream come true”. “Denmark has a similar concept – where a home or a building that is rated higher in energy efficiency can demand higher rent and selling price,” he says. “Therefore, incentivising the building developers also incentivises the potential tenants or buyers, as it helps them save on energy and heating costs in the long run.”  In the region, Fayyad adds that the top three challenges to deep retrofits identified by the respondents were lack of landlord interest, lack of financial incentives and low tariff rates. “The results also showed there is greater need of market awareness of both retrofit projects and the  expertise of the retrofit market,” he says. “EmiratesGBC recommends that ESCOs should report their project savings transparently and consistently to build confidence and repertoire within the industry to encourage the public to pursue more retrofits.” Fayyad adds that with the support of regulations and incentives, a decarbonisation roadmap can be realised.

Wilo Middle East acquires PumpsPro

DUBAI, UAE, 17 February 2021: Wilo Middle East (WME), manufacturer of pumps and systems, acquired PumpsPro, a pump solution service provider under Direct Trade House International LLC (DTHI). Making the announcement through a Press release, it said the acquisition entails the creation of a new business unit, which will maintain the name, PumpsPro but will be managed and operated as a Wilo company.

According to WME, the signing of the agreement took place at its office in Jebel Ali Free Zone (JAFZA) in the presence of Jens Dallendoerfer, Senior Vice President – Sales Region Emerging Markets, Wilo Group; Yasser Nagi, Managing Director, Wilo Middle East & Group Sales Director MENA Region and Bijan Sheibani, Chairman, Direct Trade House International LLC.

Under the terms of the agreement, WME said it will be acquiring PumpsPro, including all its assets, highly skilled service workforce, brand and extensive portfolio of customers. The move is expected to further reinforce WME’s position as a complete solution provider in the UAE and the Middle East region, it added. Nagi said: “We are proud to announce the signing of a strategic acquisition agreement with PumpsPro – a move that is expected to make Wilo a leading solutions provider in the UAE and the rest of the region. It’s a win-win agreement that falls in line with Dubai’s Demand Side Management Strategy 2030 and gives us the opportunity to support the retrofit program of 30,000 buildings by 2030, which aims to make the emirate one of the most sustainable cities in the world.”

Bijan Sheibani and Yasser Nagi signing the agreement

According to WME, PumpsPro has been working with it as service partner for its overhauling and repairing business since 2018. The signing of the new agreement, it said, is expected to reinforce Wilo’s capabilities, equipping the company to bring repairing and overhauling activities in-house, especially catering to the large number of building service, water management and industrial customers that require the right servicing that leads to strong reliability and asset uptime. WME said its offshore customers in the region will also benefit from the acquisition, where demand for servicing offshore pumps has seen a big uptake, providing oil and gas customers the just-in-time reliable servicing they require.

Peter Glauner, Senior Vice President – Group Service, Wilo Group, said: “This agreement boosts Wilo Middle East’s competitive advantage over its competitors. We are confident to seeing more benefits, as business synergies are further integrated. Over the years, we have reinforced our position as a global leading premium manufacturer of innovative pumps and pumping systems in the field of building services, water management and industry. We remain steadfast in our efforts to set new standards as a leader of innovation in terms of system efficiency and maximum energy savings.”

According to WME, PumpsPro’s relationship with Wilo Middle East dates back to 2018. WME said PumpsPro has earned a reputation of being a complete solution provider, with its employees cited for their high professionalism and expertise. Sectors that will benefit from the newly signed agreement include facilities management, hotels, leisure destinations, hospitals, schools, water parks, offshore, water management and industry, WME added.

Dallendoerfer said: “We are very confident that this acquisition deal between Wilo Middle East and PumpsPro will help consolidate our efforts to position ourselves as a top candidate in terms of providing complete turnkey value-added solutions to our retrofit customers, who are looking for a one-stop shop capable of providing services in supply, installation, start-up, testing/commissioning and other value-added requirements.”

Emerson announces SASO registration for psychrometric lab in Dubai

LOUIS, Missouri, 10February 2021:The Emerson Psychrometric lab in Dubai has been registered as the conformity assessment body by SASO (Saudi Standards, Metrology, and Quality Organization), Kingdom of Saudi Arabia vide Registration No: EE LAB 0160, Emerson said through a Press release.

Source: Emerson

The lab had previously registered with ESMA (Emirates Authority for Standardization & Metrology) vide Registration No. R-T-20-00340, Emerson said. Vadivelan Kannan, Director of Technical Services for Commercial and Residential Solutions, Middle East and Africa, said: “This is a significant milestone for our Psychrometric Lab Facility in this region. These registrations of our Psychrometric Lab will further help our customers to test their air-conditioners for performance and ensure compliance with SASO/ESMA standards and regulations.

“The certification awarded by SASO and ESMA reiterates that Emerson test lab meets both technical competence and management system requirements to consistently deliver technically valid test results for the defined scope.”

China eyes a larger MEA footprint

Ten air conditioners will be sold per second in the next 30 years, says Moan Abraham, Vice President and General Manager for Air Conditioning, Hisense Middle East, quoting a key figure in the International Energy Agency’s “The Future of Cooling” report. The report forecasted that the global air conditioner market will grow from 1.6 billion to 5.6 billion by 2050. For Abraham, while the figure offers tremendous potential, it also poses a challenge for HVAC manufacturers, stressing that if the industry does not opt for energy-efficient systems from now on, the scenario in 2050 could be quite challenging with regard to heavy consumption. Abraham believes Chinese manufacturers could be well positioned to address this growing demand, with regard to both scale and energy efficiency.

Based on customs data published by the Chinese government, Abraham says that China is already taking a big portion of the air conditioning business, globally and that the number continues to grow for all major players. Mark Wang, General Manager of International Sales, Chigo, says the overall growth of China’s HVAC industry is expected to be around five per cent. Abraham says that Hisense alone has been able to increase its export shares by 50% in the last three years.

To further underscore the scale of Chinese exports, Abraham says that in 2018 alone, around 50 million sets were exported from China. In 2019, Abraham says, it is expected that 4.14 million units will be exported to the Middle East, and 3.19 million units to Africa. “If China is exporting [around] 50 million sets, and the Middle East and Africa is taking around 7.5 million sets, that’s a significant portion that the region is accounting for,” he says.

Growing presence in Middle East and Africa

Abraham says that the Middle East and African markets have been showcasing greater appreciation for Chinese brands. Gleaning from Hisense’s own experience in the region, Abraham says that in the past, the company was largely an OEM player but that since it has been focusing on its own brand, Hisense has achieved a good market share in the last 3-4 years. This, Abraham says, is owing to several reasons. First, he points to the gradual shift in public opinion. “The quality perception of China-made products have changed today,” he says. “You have government entities specifying China-made products – this means confidence. Basically, the quality and performance of Chinese ACs and brands have been quite high-end in the last few years. People are now recognising that the quality is next to none.” Secondly, Abraham points to affordability owing to economies of scale. “It’s not about buying low-cost products,” he says. “The product is more affordable, so people can buy. Again, the purchasing power increases and the affordability has come.” Abraham also points to reliability, stressing that Chinese brands’ move to partner with notable local companies has enhanced after-sales and maintenance services. Lastly, Abraham stresses that China has the capability to manufacture in big volumes, which allows it to remain competitive in big markets.

Abraham says that this offers a good opportunity for Chinese brands, as the demand will continue to grow, not only globally, as per forecasts, but in the region, as well, owing to a reduction in lifecycle of air conditioners, especially in residential applications. This, he says, can be attributed to three main factors: “Number one, it is exposed to harsh environments. The AC is taking a big beating in terms of performance. Also, usage – people are looking for extreme cooling.” In this regard, Abraham says there is a need to enhance consumer awareness with regard to moderate temperatures setting. “People want a set-point temperature of 16 degrees C,” he says. “This is bad for health and energy consumption. Some countries are putting some regulations, especially in Egypt, which limited thermostat setting to 20 degrees C. If regulation comes, you need to limit temperature setting to a certain level, and you can increase the efficiency   and life of ACs.”

Another cause for the reduction in life of air conditioners, Abraham says, is the lack of skilled personnel handling the maintenance of AC equipment in residential units. The third bottleneck, Abraham says, is the cost of repair as well as the response time of relevant personnel in the event there is a need for product replacements. “In peak season in the GCC region, a new air conditioner can be installed in 24 hours,” he says. “But if you have complaint relating to compressor failure, you may have to wait for 2-3 days.”

Opportunities in emerging market: Spotlight on Iraq

Chinese manufacturers are showing increasing interest in Middle East and Africa; however, it is not solely owing to the potential pipeline of projects. The growing importance the countries in the region is placing on energy efficiency has also piqued the interest of Chinese brands, which have become well-versed in navigating increasingly stringent regulations in China. Abraham says that in China, the government has cracked down on the supply chain of components to ensure that products meet certain environmental standards in view of the country’s commitment to the Paris Accord, leading to a spike in cost of products, as companies need to maintain certain standards of production. Sharing his observations on trends in China, Wang adds that the VRF market is also continuing to grow at good rate, and the proportion of VRFs, compared to conventional systems, will increase. Abraham echoes this, saying that in China, VRF systems are being sold in the market like a consumer product and that there are quality training systems for those entering the service industry.

A number of Chinese companies are leveraging this experience to address shifting standards in the region. Wang says: “With the enactment of Saudi Arabia’s new SASO energy efficiency standard, Bahrain and Oman have successively issued energy efficiency regulations similar to SASO. Kuwait has also raised the T4 energy efficiency standard that is expected to be implemented in September 2019.” As customers pay more and more attention to energy saving, Wang says, designers and consultants will also take this aspect into consideration when selecting air-conditioning systems, especially in green projects and government tenders. “The technical threshold of products is the basic requirement,” Wang says. “We are actively responding by the timely launch of related products.”

Wang says that in addition to key markets, such as Saudi Arabia, Chigo is committed towards reinforcing its presence in markets such as Syria, Palestine and, particularly, Iraq. “The political situation in Iraq from 2017 to 2018 has gradually stabilised and reconstruction has started,” he says. Wang adds that although there are challenges in the country, it will not be enough to stall the momentum the Iraqi market is undergoing, adding that the local market is evolving into a promising VRF market. Abraham echoes this, saying that as Iraq continues to develop an increasingly stable government, it will look to provide its citizens with basic services that will require further infrastructure, such as housing. “Those will be good drivers for most of the suppliers,” Abraham says. “If you look at Iraq today, 95% of what is imported is from China, and Iraq is a tough environment in terms of climate, so quality should be at the high end in order to gain the market in Iraq.”

Abraham says that for the most part, the Iraq market provides an even playing field for most suppliers, but that the differentiating factor is the partner of choice. “Local partner distributors’ knowledge in the market and relationships will play an important part in the development,” he says.

Speaking with regard to the goals of Hisense, Abraham says that the company aims to be named one of the top three brands in the next five years in the air conditioning category. The company aims to do this, he says, by offering innovative products, energy-efficient solutions and focusing on customer satisfaction, in addition to ensuring product quality, cooling performance and reduced downtime, all which will help in the company’s efforts to gain further market share. This, he says, is part of a brand’s evolution and part of its unfolding global narrative as a Chinese manufacturer taking on the global market. “It’s a journey,” he says. “You cannot build the Great Wall of China wall in one day.”

French energy companies eye Middle East market

Citing the fact that many countries in the Middle East region are placing greater importance on improving energy efficiency and setting definitive targets related to renewable energy, Manoel Zenon, Trade Advisor, Infrastructures, Transport Industry, Business France, said that he believes French companies are well positioned to provide the technical knowledge and expertise required to achieve the regional public sector’s ambitious targets. Zenon said this is owing to the experience small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in France have in navigating stringent environmental requirements in Europe, which he said, they are eager to share with the regional market.

Vinoth Ramanujam, Regional Sales Director, AEG, represents one such company. Sharing the company’s history in the region’s renewable energy sector, Ramanujam said that AEG was active in solar projects around seven years ago but that the influx of competitors from the east did not allow them to be competitive and that the company is now concentrating on UPS systems, with a solar division focusing on grid and storage applications. On whether energy storage will see the same downturn in price as solar panels, Ramanujam said that the main challenge is to educate people in the market to move away from “20-year-old specifications” and put a premium on quality over cost.

Julien Pariat, Commercial Exports, Obstra, echoed the importance of educating the market to move away from conventional design specifications, saying that this is the main hurdle the company faces as a supplier of surge-protection modules for sensitive equipment. He said that the company aims to work with end-users and consultants during the specification and design stage to highlight its value as an additional layer of protection for sensitive equipment in critical applications, such as hospitals and data centres. The added cost, he stressed, pales in comparison to the cost of repairing damage and downtime from loss of services. “Not having it means there is risk of damage and premature ageing of sensitive equipment,” he said, adding that this extends to HVAC equipment, which is particularly vital for operations of infrastructure in the region.

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