Interviews

Room in a box

Unipods president Philippe Akl reveals the secret to safe and speedy fit outs

You’re on site working on a new contract that demands numerous high quality bathrooms to be fitted at speed. The record-breaking time will knock up to three months off the fit out period of the project, but how can it be achieved?
Unipods president Philippe Akl has the answer; like hotel rooms, coffee and even peas before them, the latest item to be delivered via pod is the bathroom.

The off-site construction technology specialist supplies high quality prefabricated bathrooms, kitchens and commercial washroom solutions, that have been designed in collaboration with the customer to produce the perfect pod for the project.

The company works to an eight-step process, which goes from design concept to installation and the product catalogue features bathroom pods, Uniboards and Unikitchens.

“Pod construction runs in parallel with onsite construction and ensures that delivery is both quick and timely. This results in significant time savings and can shorten on site construction time by as much as two to three months, giving a quicker ROI for the investors and end users,” Akl explains, adding the method is also cost effective as it reduces insurance premium due to enhanced health and safety on site.

Additionally there is only one point of contact as pods are designed and built prior to onsite installation.
Pods are lifted into place with cranes, the utilities are connected and they are ready for use.

“Our experienced installation team can install many pods per day. JIT deliveries optimise crane use and on- site installation time. Night installations can also free up day time crane time for other tasks. One point of contact from design through to installation saves time,” he continues.

Working with the customer to produce the perfect pod for the project, the company works to an eight-step process, which goes from design concept to installation; the product catalogue features bathroom pods, Uniboards and Unikitchens.

Bespoke

Initially liaising with the project parties to specify the sanitary ware and finalise layout, each pod is designed “according to the architect’s

drawings”, and approved by the client via prototype before large scale production begins in the Ras Al Khaimah factory.
“All tools, anchors and adhesives are sourced from top quality suppliers and applied under the right conditions to optimise performance,” Akl adds.
Further steps take in quality checks and delivery of the fully fitted pods, upon which each can be installed vertically or horizontally, depending on the structure of the building. While it is the responsibility of the M&E contractor to connect the pod to utilities pipes, Unipods staff can assist.

“Unipods are the perfect solution for hotels, residential, commercial buildings, schools, hospitals, stadiums and villa developments. They improve quality while increasing the efficiency and profitability of construction projects.

“A full turnkey bathroom solution – manufactured off-site and tailor made to the client’s specifications – the pod is a pre-engineered, pre-fitted, ready-plumbed bathroom,” Akl continues.

Complementing the bathroom designs, Unipods has also developed the Uniboard, individual modular wall panels, rather than entire rooms, with sanitary ware, flushing systems, and taps and fittings pre-installed. The product is based on the pre-plumbed modular system (PPMs) currently used in Europe, PPMs are preassembled in the factory, fitted with access panels, sanitary ware, flushing systems and brassware and delivered to site ready for simple installation.

The third product, the UniKitchen, is manufactured in collaboration with British-based Grange Interiors at a 55,000-square foot facility, also based in Ras Al Khaimah.

Akl says the concept further promoted the company’s ethic to improve the efficiency, quality and profitability of construction, “by implementing off-site construction technology in key areas of the homes and buildings”.

As part of holding group, the Al Rajhi Investment Group, Unipods is one of a number of companies contributing towards the groups aim to be among the top five business development groups in the GCC in five years, across five segments. The company works out of offices in Jeddah, Riyadh and Ras Al Khaimah.

“Certainly Saudi Arabia is the strongest market right now and there are two dimensions to this; speed is one dimension but the other is the nature of projects. With so much focus on supplying affordable housing within tight deadlines Unipods are perfectly designed to meet all these needs,” Akl says.

 

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