Face to face: Burak Ç. Kizilhan, AE Arma-Elektropanç

MEP companies need to adopt to new technological changes, says Burak Ç. Kizilhan, CEO of AE Arma-Elektropanç

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INTERVIEWS, MEP

Before Burak Ç. Kizilhan  took over as chief executive officer of the Turkey-based MEP company AE Arma-Elektropanç in June 2017, he had a few things to do first.

After his studies in the UK, Kızılhan worked for Schneider Electric UK in London for two years as a project manager. He then returned to his family business at AE Arma-Elektropanç. He says: “I became the business development manager responsible for MENA region’s operations of the company [based in Dubai]. I returned to AE Arma-Elektropanç’s headquarters located in Istanbul, Turkey, on January 2014, and became the deputy general manager and board member of the company.”

The rest is history. 

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Most recently, AE Arma-Elektropanç was awarded a $159m (AED580m) contract for Dubai Hills Mall Project by ALEC. The company also secured MEP works on Dubai’s $52m (AED191m) WOW Hotel and Hotel Apartments. Eighty-percent of its operations are outside of Turkey, with activities in Europe, MENA, the Russian Federation and CIS countries.

However, Kizilhan says that the UAE is one of the most important country for the company’s international operations. “Since 2002, the UAE has played an important role for our growth strategy. We always make long-term plans for UAE operations and our diversified customers including contractors and employees from Europe, America, Asia and the Middle East, which enable us to provide the best quality services in international standards. We always provide the best services by following new technology and innovation that distinguishes us from other companies. We also provide customer satisfaction and our commitment to finish on time makes us a more consistent and demanding company in the marketplace,” Kizilhan says.

AE Arma has completed some of the UAE’s iconic projects such as Legoland Dubai (Package 2 & 3), Riverland Dubai, Bab Al Qasr Hotel & Residence and University of Dubai. 

Riverland Dubai consists of 27 retail, entertainment and dining buildings, two tram station buildings and four electrical substation buildings. It is one of the most luxurious entertainment and dining areas of Dubai as it is part of Dubai Parks & Resorts. Bab Al Qasr Hotel & Residence is a luxury hotel and residence located in Corniche in Abu Dhabi.

The company also has several ongoing projects. Besides WOW Hotel & Hotel Apartments and Dubai Hills Mall, seven of the 18 ongoing projects are located within the boundaries of the UAE. These are Bluewaters Wharf Retail, Al Seef (Phase 4), Marina City – Plot B, Wasl District and Al Maktoum International Airport – Passenger Terminal Building Extension. While the Bluewaters Wharf Retail project is under progress on the newly constructed artificial island in Dubai, Al Seef (Phase 4) will be one of the attraction point for tourists.

AE Arma’s scope of work covers the entire range of electrical and mechanical engineering solutions of every size, such as low, medium and high tension, energy management and distribution, measuring and control technology, instrumentation, integrated security and building management, the entire spectrum of air, climate and energy solutions, including HVAC cold and heat storage, clean room technology, piping, fire-extinguishing technology and mechanical process installations.

The market

Kizilhan believes that the global economy and international trade are growing. New investments in different parts of the world are upcoming, he says. 

“The economies of emerging countries are growing faster than the developed economies. The international investors are focusing on making investments in developing countries. Turkey and the UAE are the two important countries that will attract more investors in 2018. The rise in oil prices will have a positive impact on Middle East investments as well as on investments in Russia. World Cup 2018 in Russia and Expo 2020 in the UAE are important investment and contracting opportunities,” Kızılhan says.

He continues: “The African market is also rising. Although Africa lacks financing and is facing some security problems, its rich underground resources and its need for basic investments such as energy and water supply, will attract many investors and contractors in 2018. The major threat to real estate and construction industry in the Middle East region is the possible negative effects of the global political developments and their impact on regional political conflicts. Despite these risks, we believe 2018 will be better than 2017.”

MEP sector and technology

According to Kizilhan, the MEP sector is based on engineering and technology. He says: “The new century is built on technology, and the new industrial revolution 4.0 is increasing the importance and the shares of electromechanical services in the investments. Smart cities, smart homes, energy efficient buildings, and the internet of things are just a few examples of where MEP services are being used widely. It is hard to follow the speed of development of technology. The materials and equipments, the design methods, engineering solutions and the entire systems are changing in accordance with the technological developments. Companies have to adapt themselves to these new technological changes very fast. That also requires additional and continuous investments. 

“Another main challenge that the sector faces is the level of competition. Although MEP services require high-tech engineering and technology, there are many companies that provide cheap prices which is affecting the whole industry. Clients should be aware of the value added by good and experienced engineering companies and should have a different evaluating criteria while selecting MEP companies.”

Kizilhan says that technological investments such as data centres, hospitals, high security buildings including airports, underground transportation systems and energy and industrial investments are the key drivers for the MEP sector. 

He explains: “Today, trillions of data are being produced and all these data are needed to be stored securely. That is why data centers are important for the next generation. Moreover, projects that require high-tech and security such as airports are another important trend for the MEP sector. There are many countries that are investing in tourism facilities and airport projects are a must for the development of tourism. In the next few years, the industrial 4.0 revolution will increase the demand for good MEP companies which have adapted themselves to new technologies. 

“There will also be a big need for renewing the infrastructure of cities to be compatible for the new technologies. Other ongoing real estate investments which include high rise offices, residences, malls, logistic and tourism facilities, as well as education buildings are the secondary drivers of the industry. The more technology develops, the more the MEP sector will grow. This will also bring new security problems. The MEP sector should also find solutions to provide more secure technologies for the end users. Energy efficiency is also an important driver for new and existing buildings and investments. The projects that produce their own energy by renewable resources by using photovoltaic panels, wind turbines and other clean energy sources will also shape the future of the industry.”

Strategising

In order to stay ahead of the game, E Arma-Elektropanç has been able to set long term goals. Kizilhan says: “Our operations are integrated with ERP systems, and our top management have more than 40 years of regional and international experience. Electromechanical works require a high level engineering, and AE, with its experienced design and engineering team who follow and use new trends and technologies such as Building Information Modelling (BIM), provides the best and most economic solutions to its customers. We always add value to the projects we carry out by providing value engineering. Besides, we follow international quality standards, and safety is our first concern in all our projects.” 

He continues: “We manage our projects by using international project management principles. While expanding to new markets, we are aiming to be the MEP contractor of important projects by maintaining our high-quality and reputation and establishing partnerships with global players in the sector and carrying out sustainability work with risk and cost control. Our board of directors and senior management are constantly monitoring activities according to our strategy.

“During the periodical and frequent management meetings, performance of the company is kept under control and new targets and strategies are being developed. We have a flexible decision making system by keeping the values and principles of our company on the top. We always build good relations and trust with our clients. The quality of our work and customer satisfaction and feedbacks are our references for future works. We have a dynamic risk management system, and we have diversified our operations in different regions. This mitigates the risks and allow us to protect our company from regional negative effects.”

Kizilhan concludes by saying that the company’s primary objective is to render client-oriented services as a company which renews continuously and increases its value, while delivering MEP works for high quality projects with the experience it has gained over the course of many years.

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