Charbel Abou Chedid, CEO at API (Advanced Plastic Industries), talks about the upcoming MEP Middle East Conference and the challenges facing the MEP sector.
Why is it important that you support the MEP Middle East Conference?
The MEP Conference unifies the finest of the region’s MEP and HVAC community under one roof, and brings together decision makers across the industry. We believe the GCC region, and in particular, Dubai with the Expo 2020 build-up, offer sufficient room for our high-quality products. This is especially the case in high-rise towers, where we have demonstrated our performance time and again, in installations that demand high temperature and pressure resistance, and greater flow characteristics. Therefore, in line with our overall expansion plans, and our UAE market penetration, the event presents an opportunity for API to generate awareness regarding the ultimate pipe solutions we have to offer. The conference will also provide us with prospects of networking with potential customers who are at the industry’s forefront.
We are confident that with such exposure, we can get our message of superior quality across to all the stakeholders involved in the construction industry, and eventually augment our sales activities in the region.
What do you think were the main challenges facing the MEP industry in 2016?
It is safe to say that 2016 proved to be more difficult, across all businesses and sectors, in comparison to previous years. The slowdown in government expenditure, and general consumer sentiment has resulted in tighter liquidity, and tougher cash retention. Such geopolitical struggles and circumstances in the region, undoubtedly distress the construction sector, and have shaped a general go-slow in financing major MEP projects.
What most excites you about the UAE MEP industry?
API is built with a mission and a commitment to offer products of superior quality, through constant innovation, whilst focusing on client satisfaction. At API, acquiring knowledge about industry needs and matters is an integral component of our business model. We believe that an in-depth understanding of the UAE’s MEP sector will help us better adapt our overall business efforts and outcomes to the given market. Consequently, we are looking forward to hearing from the frontrunners of the MEP industry, as they address issues and opportunities that fall under the umbrella of the UAE’s MEP sector. The chance to discuss and comprehend today’s key concerns will allow us to attest our position as thought leaders, better incorporate API in the region’s up-and-coming MEP community, and keep us ahead of the game.
What are the main topics you expect to come up at the MEP Middle East Conference?
- Overview of the current economic outlook with regards to the infrastructure and construction sectors, as well as methods to tackle the current economic instability in the given industries
- Risk alleviation for MEP contractors
- Green construction, sustainable building, and automation
- Sustainable energy and efficiency
- Safety measures
- New solutions and innovations for the MEP sector
What are the latest product/service launches from your company?
For several years now, we have focused on PP-RCT for water supply applications. In return, our credibly and high quality standards have translated into widespread industry recognition. Today, API is acknowledged as one of the major players and trendsetters in the pipe business, and has achieved multiple milestones along the way. We are amongst the first companies to adopt PP-RCT globally, and were the first company to acquire the SKZ mark and DVGW approval on PP-RCT products. Moreover, in accordance with the EN and ISO standards, and due to our superior PP-RCT raw material, API holds the only approved product for heating installations to date.
This year, we expand our product range by introducing our new and innovative brand for silent drainage, ApiSilence®. The brand is comprised of acoustically insulating and mineral-filled pipes and fittings, made from the finest polypropylene co-polymers, for drainage and rainwater. The system provides ductility, high resistance to impact and abrasion, excellent endurance to chemicals present in detergents, and compliance with green building requirements. Taking advantage of push-fit connections with certified rubber seals, installation time and cost can be reduced. ApiSilence® now enables us to offer our clients near-to-full domestic water piping solutions, mainly attending to the hotel industry. The system will add tremendous value to both hotel developers, and surely hotel guests.
Expansion of production capacity and product range
We are currently in the process of increasing production capacity across all divisions. In specific, we are happy to announce that this year we are doubling our production capacity for our ApiThene® (polyethylene) and ApiDrain® (polypropylene) brands. Furthermore, we will also be developing our existing PP-RCT range to reach higher diameters (up to 630 mm), in order to cover wider fields of application.
Seeing potential in the demand for superior performing pipe systems in Dubai, and in order to enhance the sales activity in the given market, ‘API International Marketing’ was established. The Dubai-based company began its daily operations at the kick off of the year 2017. It is providing support to API Lebanon, in terms of marketing and technical services, to better cater to the UAE, and the GCC region.
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What other news can we expect from your company in 2017/2018?
Market entry and expansion plans
We remain up-to-date and expand in formation with the global construction industry, in order to close all loopholes of piping requirements in the building sector. Our expansion plans are in step with our company’s vision: We aim to gain worldwide recognition as a leading manufacturer who satisfies the need for superior quality plastic pipes and fittings, through constant development and innovation by our team of experts. At present, our brands are available and purchased in numerous countries around the world. A solid sales team, including a dedicated export department and a broad distribution network, consist of over 140 competent distributors, who currently service the local and regional markets. Nonetheless, we are continuously seeking to expand our leadership to additional export markets.
- Regional distributors present in: Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Algeria, UAE, Qatar, and KSA
- Export countries: Syria, Jordan, Egypt, Iraq, Yemen, Libya, Algeria, Sudan, Nigeria, Liberia, Benin, Ghana, Burkina Faso, Guinea, Gabon, Democratic Republic of Congo, Equatorial Guinea, UAE, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Cyprus, and the Netherlands
Expansion of facilities
To meet the growing needs of the local and export markets, in parallel to accommodating product development, we will soon be expanding our factory premises, and will unite our factory grounds and headquarters in the same location. The expansion project will allow an increase in production volume by 40%, and will create approximately 30 job opportunities. This development will continue to set the benchmark for the production of high-end quality pipes and fittings, both locally and internationally, in order to reach more clients, and offer them superiority at its best.
Elevation of safety measures
At API, we do our utmost to sustain a workplace that respects and ensures the safety of our employees. Our company culture of safety relies on the emphasis it is given within the factory walls. Accordingly, our entire workforce has obtained a health and safety training course offered by certified providers, for them to be well-prepared to manage emergency situations in the workplace, and to ultimately better promote a safe and hazard-reduced working environment.
Although we have a solid safety program in place that entails daily floor inspections, machine checks and use of personal protective equipment, we will be elevating our safety measures with the upcoming expansion of our factory premises, to meet the most relevant and stringent safety standards. We will be implementing a new specialised and engineered design, which will better consider fire incidents, smoke management, exits and staircase dimensions for employee evacuation in case of any mishap or crises. Moreover, we will be hiring a safety officer, whose sole duty is to guarantee that the safety program is properly implemented and the workplace runs as safely and smoothly as possible.
Upgrading sustainable energy
API prioritises environmental protection and sustainability. Realising a balance of economic consideration towards our clients, and social responsibility towards Mother Nature, we have placed long-term objectives to support our mission. Our persistence to meet the given objectives is reflected in our daily business functions, as well as our manufacturing processes.
API is proud to be the first factory and industry in the Middle East, and the fifth worldwide, to install a Photovoltaic Hybrid System at its premises: The roof of the factory is currently covered by 1250 m2 of PV solar panels producing 192 kW. The PV output is synchronised with the power generated from local diesel generators, resulting in a diesel saving of 70 tons/year and an annual solar energy yield of 240MWh. In addition to cost cutting, this set-up reduces the fuel consumption of the generator, by saving 170T of CO2, 4.6T of NOx and 306kg of SOx annually.
In 2018, we will cover a larger surface area of our factory roof, by adopting and implementing a greater number of PV panels, in order to increase power generation using sunlight, instead of traditional fuel consumption. By upgrading our PV system within our manufacturing processes, we will reinforce our commitment for further sustainable production, and underpin our responsibilities towards a greener environment. Likewise, such an upgrade is a stepping-stone closer to obtaining the ISO 14001 certificate for environmental management, which we hope to acquire soon.