Facilities Management; Outside the box

From jobs to energy management and transforming healthcare, four of the biggest exhibitors at Dubai’s FM Expo explain the evolution of asset management

Strategic benefits

Imdaad recently signed a contract to provide FM services in Dubai’s Road and Transport Authority (RTA) buildings. CEO Jamal Abdulla Lootah talks about public sector contracts and job creation.

In comparison to the more mature FM markets in Europe and North America, facilities management in the Middle East is relatively young and this is one of the primary reasons why the potential for growth is considerably huge in this region. It has also helped a lot in driving growth in the FM industry, that there is now greater awareness among businesses across the region about the strategic benefits of FM, particularly in terms of cost savings, efficiency, quality and sustainability.

“Typically, a comprehensive FM solution should start from the inception of the property, which allows FM  professionals to develop an effective, sustainable and cost-efficient strategy.

“A comprehensive FM strategy is particularly important considering that up to 80% of the total lifecycle cost of a property is spent on maintenance, management and energy.

“A carefully developed FM strategy therefore creates huge long-term cost savings, consequently making businesses more profitable.

“While the impact of the FM industry on the business sector is quite tangible, the gradual growth of FM practices has actually createdopportunities in other areas that are only starting to be fully appreciated, particularly in the job market.

The market is projected to reach a value of up to US $8 billion by 2013 and perhaps higher in the succeeding years. This figure indeed also represents new prospects in a wide range of job categories.

“New jobs are being created as a growing number of companies continue to adopt outsourced solutions. With the recent economic impact on the job market, I believe fresh employment prospects in the FM industry will somehow contribute in revitalising the region’s employment market.

“However, I believe that the government and private sector should act proactively to take full advantage of emerging, untapped employment opportunities. For instance, universities can perhaps start developing and offering FM-related academic programs, courses and even certifications.

A number already have and this is certainly a very positive step towards further enriching the job market for FM professionals in the region.

“Here at Imdaad, we are focussing more on government contracts between now and 2012 but we try not to make a differentiation between public and private contracts; anybody who signs with us should get the same high quality service with a very reasonable price. We are focussing on our public sector contracts because I feel Imdaad can add value.”

“When my team told me about the Musanada contract for schools in Abu Dhabi, I told them to go ahead, regardless of the profit margin. We can add value to the contract and it benefits both us and Musanada to work together.”


Rebecca Coleman EFS


Emcor Facilities services (EFS) is introducing a new training programme, covering everything from etiquette to management, explains HR manager Rebecca Coleman
“The training programme with EFS is going to be split into three tiers; the first tier is for technicians and basic technical provisions, including workshops and hands on courses in things like grooming and etiquette.

“The second tier is for senior and mid-management level staff and focuses on ‘soft skills’ required by them, such as leadership. In addition we are taking some of the courses from MEFMA (Middle East Facilities Management Association) and rolling these out within our courses, to fully cover all aspects.

“We are also going to introduce an Emiratisation programme; recruiting about 15 nationals a year through graduate programmes. We will take people who have studied FM, straight from universities such as Heriot Watt and induct them in a graduation programme, before putting them into inventory and coaching. It covers all spectrums.

“The response from all involved has been positive; even though people have to juggle their projects and the training at the same time. We have just recruited a training coordinator and a lot of the mangers really want to get involved in FM and the technical side, also.

“The primary benefit to EFS is staff retention. We are retaining and training our staff; we can train people to supervisor level and then make them into coordinators, FMs, assistant FMs etc. If we retain the employees we are keeping that
knowledge within EFS as well.

“We are starting to recruit local people from local institutions and are training them for the local market.”


Redefining FM

Hestia’s approach to facilities management in hospitals redefines how services are delivered, general manager Frederick Martin explains.

Usually when a client asks me to define FM I will return the question and ask ‘what is your core business?’ are you sure of the boundaries of your core business and if so I will say to them that facilities management is what is not your core business.

“The business model that the client has, like in any activity, includes risk factors. FM is about mitigating the risk which doesn’t pertain to the core business of a client.

“For example, cleaning the corridors is not the core business of a hospital, nor is cleaning the patient rooms. Now we move to cleaning the operating room after an operation, again it is not a core business but there is degradation in
the risk factor and the responsibility.

“For example, sterilisation of the instruments surgeons use; some clients say it is core business, some say not. So there is a boundary between what can be outsourced and what is the core business function.

“The responsibility to our client does not start at the entrance of the hospital and finish at the end of a doctor or nurse’s shift. If you are working in a hospital it means your personal hygiene is coming from your home; you perform your duty and you go back home.

Whose responsibility is it to make sure that your staff, doctors and nurses are in well kept, healthy organised  environments to mitigate the risk of infection, which is the core business of the client, while they are performing their duty.

“We stretch the responsibility of non-core activities far beyond the boundary of the site itself, looking at any ancillary activities not defined in the vision of a client.

“The bit in between the technical anchorage business and the knowledge of facilities management is what Hestia is doing.

“Our mission is to really understand how the client company is organised and offer alternative structures to transfer to activities to Hestia in a way which will optimise your CAPEX and OPEX. It is very theoretical and abstract, but there are some very hands on decisions to be taken at that stage.

“When you enter a hospital as a patient, statistically you will spend 25% of your time undergoing medical treatment. Somebody has to attend to the other 75%. That is not the core business of doctors, but facilities management.

“That is why we are redefining what facilities management is. We are not nuts and bolts; we are not MEP; we are not cleaning; we are not waste management.

“We go beyond to identify core staff and responsibilities. For example the secretaries, drivers, clerks are not core business activity staff. Why should they be on your pay roll?

“Does it make sense or is it just the way it has always been done? So let’s brain storm again, why are things done this way?

“I very much admire what the health authority is doing in Abu Dhabi. The work they have tackled and the streamlining of guidelines in order to structure local health provision is outstanding; and I don’t think it exists anywhere else in the world.”

The next step

Senior FM Alison Kitching talks about the impact of the Strata Law and energy management initiatives on Emril’s integrated services.

As a whole we deliver services as an integrated company; we have over 4000 staff delivering the hard and soft services
which is the energy maintenance services, which ties in with energy saving; an increasingly important part of service delivery. This includes maintaining assets to ensure they are running at their most efficient and making sure our people are empowered to meet client expectations.

“Energy costs are quite high particularly here where water is scarce and desalinated so very expensive to produce.

“Therefore anything we can do to reduce consumption has a really positive impact on energy owners and communities both are affected in similar ways but differing ways.

“The main opportunity now is the Strata Law in Dubai, where developers are no longer responsible for selecting the service providers within the communities, instead forming owners’ associations.

“As a result we’re going directly to owners who vote for their service providers. For us this opens new doors and new challenges, which isexciting and we have been delivering services for almost 10 years in communities so it’s fantastic for us to go to new areas.

“We are also doing some work with Al Futtiam and they have exciting technology in use at Dubai Festival City to help manage utilities across the portfolio, called iViva. They remotely monitor technology and building management  systems in one control centre and use the data to make positive decisions on how resources are consumed.

“We are working closely to bring this into the residential portfolio and have also introduced an online portal to allow the residents in the communities we serve to contact us directly for water saving appliances and devices, energy
saving monitors and so on for property owners.

“The awareness to achieve the most value from an asset over a long period of time, is about lifecycle costs rather than the transaction costs for individual services.

“Where we see the greatest value in long term partnerships is delivering all services for people who work together to reduce the whole life cycle cost of an asset rather than looking purely at a month to month cost, because ultimately
that is more expensive.”



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