Event wrap-up: Value Engineering Summit 2019

Industry comes together to discuss the growing facet’s affect on construction

More than 200 delegates from across the Middle East gathered together on 9 April at the Oberoi Hotel in Business Bay, for the second edition of the Value Engineering (VE) Summit organised by CPI Trade Media. The conference brought together speakers and panellists constituting consultants, contractors and government authorities, and provided them with a platform to discuss and debate the issues and challenges of improving efficiency in construction.

Chaired by Nicky Dobreanu, managing quantity surveyor at C-Quest, the event included three panel discussions, two presentations and two CPD-certified sessions, followed by a networking lunch. Ahmed Abdalla Al Hammadi, director of the Federal Roads Department at the Ministry of Infrastructure Development, gave the keynote speech before the day’s discourse started.

Scott Coombes, director at AESG, kicked off the event by moderating the first panel discussion, which focused on design and build (D&B) contracts becoming increasingly popular across the region, compared to traditional construction contracts. The key points reviewed were the pros and cons associated with D&B projects, while industry experts talked about creating clear communication and working in a collaborative environment for successful VE implementation.

Overall, the panellists believed that D&B is growing within the organisational culture, but pointed out that the way a D&B contractor thinks should be very different from the way a traditional contractor thinks.

Scott Beth, senior manager, Project Development at Select Group, said, “I strongly feel that D&B contractors should be more creative and have a deeper understanding of the processes at work.”

Paul Doherty, UAE country director at Faithful + Gould, felt market maturity is still an issue throughout the whole construction process, with respect to D&B projects.

In conclusion, the takeaway was that D&B projects will receive a lot more support in the future and that D&B is a great solution for fulfilling particular objectives in a contract.

One of the topics discussed in the first panel was what constitutes value in a D&B contract. Hence, the first presentation of the day was by Fernando Freitas, associate director at Omnium International, who elaborated on the importance of ‘value’ in VE and the relationship between functionality/quality and cost.

The next panel discussion was on the application of VE in private-public partnership (PPP) infrastructure projects, moderated by David Clifton, director for Strategy and Growth (Construction Services) at AECOM.

To start off the discussion, Rita Allan, senior associate at Pinsent Masons, stated that there are a lot of projects that are already of the PPP nature, not by name but by cooperation. She stressed multiple times during the panel discussion that a PPP is designed to be a life asset when compared to other projects, and that it is usually for a very long time and involves a big investment.

The council went on to discuss how government-implemented laws and project financing mechanisms will provide support to vital projects. Most of the debate was about determining how a successful PPP seeks to align the risks to that party most suitable to bear them.

The recurring theme was that everyone involved needs to collaborate in a controlled environment and adopt a holistic approach to VE and hitting key performance indicators. Participators maintained that how we approach VE and which PPP model should be incorporated for a project is crucial.

Mohammad Tanbouz, executive director (Operations) at Lacasa Architects & Engineering Consultants, added, “There are legal entities present to scrutinise the project in terms of liabilities, risks and gains, and to control the interests of all the stakeholders involved.” He elaborated that PPPs are unique, and that the culture needs to be more developed in the Middle East than other parts of the world.

The panel ended on the idea that during a VE exercise every aspect must be scrutinised, and that stakeholders must have a realistic approach to the issues and risks associated with lifecycle costs and government benchmarks. The panellists stressed the importance of understanding that PPP projects are life assets and must be treated as such during the VE process.

The third panel for the summit was about using technology and software during the VE process. Dobreanu returned onstage to moderate the debate on the use of analytics and technology in finding the most value-added solutions. The committee also had a healthy dialogue on calculating return on investment on the financial, social and environmental fronts, and the benefits they bring in terms of CapEx and OpEx.

Nithin Thomas, senior BIM manager at Shapoorji Pallonji International, made an interesting point about how understanding technological barriers is the key to making everything work efficiently and effectively.

Meanwhile, Naji Atallah, head of AEC and Manufacturing (ME and Turkey) at Autodesk, was of the opinion that trusting technology won’t be an option going forward. “I think it’s going to accelerate, and people’s jobs will change. They will not disappear, but they will evolve, and it’s only by adopting technology that we will be able to deliver more.”

With this thought in mind, the final panel of the second edition of the VE Summit concluded.

The second presentation for the day was delivered by Venugopal Nanjan, CEO – Centre of Excellence at S&T Global Engineering Services. He elaborated on how technologies such as big data, BIM (building information modelling), VR (virtual reality), GIS (geographic information system) and blockchain are disrupting the AEC industry, especially in the area of VE.

This was followed by two CPD-certified sessions. The first was on a win-win strategy for successful VE by Maged Louis, managing partner at Implement Engineering Consultants. His case study was about a hospital project where both parties felt that they got good deals. He expanded on the differences between cost-cutting and VE.

Summit chair Dobreanu returned to give the final CPD-certified presentation for the day, which discussed how companies must adopt collaborative practices and behaviours to facilitate collective learning and building trust in the pursuit of value. He noted how current construction practices are difficult and cumbersome, and talked about what could be done to change this.

With this, the second VE Summit organised by CPI Trade Media ended on a resounding success. Attendees were able to share their experiences and ideas with industry experts as well as network with government officials, key industry figures, influencers and solution providers during a buffet lunch at the venue.

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