An asset base for instant delivery
Kieve Pinto, executive director of Al Faris Group, talks to The Energy Year about how the company has grown its services and asset base to meet the evolving market demand in the UAE and its role in key energy developments. Al Faris supplies heavy lifting and transport services with a large fleet of mobile cranes, crawlers, hydraulic trailers and other heavy equipment.
How has Al Faris grown alongside market requirements and how will it secure a greater market share in the UAE?
The milestones we have achieved over the past three decades have been in parallel to the major hydrocarbons and infrastructure developments witnessed in the country. Our assets are critical to develop undertakings in different sectors, such as major civil infrastructure – for example, providing power commissioning for the Burj Khalifa, heavy-lift works for the Dubai Metro and ongoing heavy-lift works for Borouge. Interestingly, we have ramped up our investment to acquire state-of-the-art heavy-lift and power generation assets to meet the standards of the region, given the array of new ventures.
Today, we are a leader and specialist in heavy lifting, heavy transport and energy solutions, with the largest fleet of cranes and heavy equipment in the Middle East. This includes around 2,500 cranes and heavy equipment with an asset value exceeding USD 1.5 billion. This sets us apart from the competition – we have assets on the ground and always available to meet the country’s demand. In addition to this we have in-house technical experience and qualified personnel that combines with our asset base that allows us to provide instant service to our customers in critical industries. Therefore, we bring unparalleled technical solutions to meet the time-sensitive needs of the heavy lift, heavy transport and mobile power generation requirements of our customers.
We are currently solutioning factory-to-foundation transport solutions for our customers – moving heavy-size cargo modules from the door of the manufacturer to the foundation grounds of the project. We already have the largest onland transportation fleet in the UAE and we are in the process of acquiring marine assets for transport of OOG [out-of-gauge] cargo. This would greatly enhance our capabilities and help us meet the growing demand of the market and our clients. It would also widen the scope of the potential projects we could cater for across the Middle East. With marine assets we could serve our bases in Saudi Arabia, Iraq and the UAE.
What is the scope of your asset base and what capabilities do you have?
Our asset base is divided into three divisions: heavy lifting, heavy transport and energy. We have state-of-the-art mobile cranes from 25-1,200 tonnes and crawler cranes up to 1,000 tonnes, forklifts ranging from 5-50 tonnes, telehandlers, container handlers, low-bed and flat-bed trailers, diesel and water tankers and SPMTs [self-propelled modular transporters] among others. We can transport up to 5,000 tonnes or more, depending on the project.
Our energy division hosts a fleet of diesel and gas generators with capacities ranging from 50 kW-2,000 kW. In this regard, we provide complete power solutions from basic generator rental to complete turnkey design, installation, testing and commissioning of multi-megawatt power plants. Thus, we can feed the grid or power up a plant, being able to provide 500 MW or more. We are looking to deploy much of our energy division equipment to Saudi Arabia, targeting 100 MW or more of power capacity there given the magnitude of potential projects that may require our services, such as NEOM.
While our heavy-lift and transport divisions have been predominant, we are investing more into our energy division. Industry-wise, 60-70% of our work comes from the oil and gas sector, and it will continue to dominate in years to come.
We’re also seeing greater demand for our services from renewable energy projects and we are currently developing hybrid power solutions that reduce fossil fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions.
How are you upgrading your assets and keeping them up to scratch with industry standards?
We have enlisted our assets into ERP [enterprise resource planning] software for asset management with the aim of analysing data for a more efficient use of the assets and the predictive maintenance. Our aim is to focus on keeping our assets in healthier shape and prolonging their life without compromising their efficiency and safety. As a result, we can run high-value assets for a longer period, which also reduces the need to replace them as frequently. This also reduces our overall carbon footprint.
Along with the upgrade and maintenance of existing assets, we are also investing in new assets to keep up with the needs and requirements of the industries we serve. Some of the newer cranes and equipment can lift heavier modules and do it in a more efficient way. So, we carry out a dual approach where we upkeep our older equipment while also acquiring new assets.
Likewise, we are also looking to be more sustainable by introducing renewable energy, such as PV panels and hybrid technologies like diesel and solar. We are implementing sustainable technologies in tandem with fossil fuels to be more efficient and environmentally friendly.
We are looking at hydrogen gas-fuelled engines and are looking forward to the introduction of this technology as it becomes commercially and practically viable.
What role have you played in key recent traditional and non-traditional energy projects?
We are working on the upcoming Borouge expansion, in addition to pivotal projects such as the Hail and Ghasha sour gas development projects. We have also been involved in important sustainable energy projects. For instance, last year we installed critical infrastructure at the new waste-to-energy plant in Dubai. The installation was done at a height of 2.8 metres using our specialised in-house modular towers and other skidding equipment. The steam box was delivered in two parts, the bottom part weighing 27 tonnes and the top weighing 40 tonnes. We used our 250- and 200-tonne mobile cranes for this operation.
In addition to this, we were involved in the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park. We installed the 1,600-tonne fuel cell at 200m. Moreover, we executed the complete logistics chain including the receiving, storing, transporting and lifting of 30 overflow tanks for this project. Each tank was 52 metres long and weighed 235 tonnes when moved by road.
We provided our technical solutions and installed the overhead structural steel bridge crossings (weighing between 500 and 2,000 tonnes) for Etihad Rail over the Sheikh Zayed Road.
We have been instrumental in all critical infrastructure projects in the region and we expect to gain ground in the renewables space.
What markets and approaches will be prominent in Al Faris’ strategy moving forwards?
The most important markets we cover are the UAE and Saudi Arabia. Yet we are looking at opportunities in the entire MENA region. Apart from this, we are also looking at other parts of the world, such as Africa, eyeing Mozambique and Djibouti. We worked actively in ports for DP World. However, today our revenue and activities are spread between the UAE and Saudi Arabia. We do see Saudi Arabia as a market that will require more attention in the coming years.
Moving forwards, our vision is to consolidate our presence in the Middle East and drive for more efficient solutions for the market. With sustainability on the horizon, we want to be at the forefront of technology to provide cleaner and greener solutions to our clients. We have our boots and assets on the ground and a robust fleet of cranes and equipment, which is fully available to cater for the different projects that are in the pipeline.