Unibeton Ready Mix continues to build on its already leading supply of ready mix solutions in the GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) through the ongoing flexibility to adapt not only its extensive offering to the market, but also the footprint of the market it operates within.
Now proud to be able to share its unrivalled knowledge and technologies within the sector on a global scale, the company’s ongoing R&D efforts are coinciding with more stringent industry regulations in the Middle-East to ensure that it will attain even more significant projects moving forward; including key infrastructural works in Saudi Arabia, Oman, India and Kuwait, as well as playing a pivotal role in preparing for the 2020 World Expo in the UAE and the 2022 football World Cup in Qatar.
Unibeton pinpoints the key facets behind its success to be delivering client’s requirements, enhancing operational and capital efficiencies, expanding through product innovation and investing in its people; all of which have combined to make the Al Fara’a Group-owned company the one to watch in international construction over the coming years.
Epitomising the extent of innovation engrained into the Unibeton ethos, the company has either unveiled or is well on its way to unleashing some of its most significant achievements to date, in the form of its ISM rheological probe system, formerly, and cementless concrete in the near future.
International Development Marketing Director, Robin Jones explained: “Our ISM probe system is essentially a workability test, similar to replacing a dipstick with a petrol gauge in a car. It has the ability to measure rheological properties, slump, temperature and volume of concrete inside the drum of the ready mix truck as a QAQC live automatic monitoring system.
“It’s an industry first and is already going down a storm around the world, via our consultancy guys, in countries like Germany, Singapore and Japan.”
Innovations such as the ISM probe are a testament to the company’s R&D efforts which have also been responsible for bringing about the ability to produce 75 MPa cementless concrete.
Once this ground-breaking innovation etches its way into the consciousness of the construction community, Jones is confident that it will not only enforce Unibeton’s position at the top of the industry, but will also signify a pivotal progression on a global industry level.
“We believe we will be the first company to get and to deliver and to make cementless concrete,” he said. “We can make it now at over 75MPa but the only problem is acceptance.
“It is new science so presentations and education is required, but it will come sooner or later. R&D is rife with this and all of our concrete is geared towards being environmentally friendly.”
Keeping ahead of the industry curve in the eco stakes has never been more vital than it is now, with new legislation coming in to ensure that buildings are reaching sustainability and carbon rating targets.
All of which will play into Unibeton’s hands however, building upon a market differentiator that it already has in abundance and has even won awards for, including from the National Ready Mixed Concrete Association (NRMCA).
“We are the only company in the world to have been awarded the NRMCA gold award for the sustainability of a specific concrete plant like we did for our plant in Qatar last year,” Jones explained. “No-one else has that and it’s gone down well wherever we mention it. It’s a hug coup for us and gives us mega brownie points in sustainability.”
Operating primarily in areas of complex infrastructure and high-rise buildings, Unibeton Readymix prides itself not only on these new sustainable products, but also through implementing them on scales previously untried.
“We’re talking about over 400 metres in height in terms of high-rise pumping, where we’ve pumped in 80MPa concrete in single stage. They’re the type of high caliber, challenging jobs that we’re taking,” explained UAE General Manager, Jean-Francois Dufour.
“Our past track record and international standing gives us the advantage both in the UAE and internationally.”
Reaching the peak of business in 2008 and 2009, the years immediately following presented much more of a challenge as a result of a general industry slowdown, but this brought out the best in Unibeton’s proactive, flexible philosophy as it was forced to find profit elsewhere.
“One of the proactive things we did is analyse the market itself in the UAE and took the opportunity to start expanding elsewhere, looking into places like Saudi Arabia and Qatar,” Dufour said. “We are very good at assessing the market and we go where the economy is better, and now, anywhere that there is a need for business and we can be profitable and sustainable, we can take the opportunity to go there.”
“We, as a business, decided that we will go anywhere in the world,” Jones continued. “We’ve had excellent relationships and alliances with globally renowned companies, so when they came into Dubai, we were able to leverage these excellent relationships to get more business.”
Unibeton’s menu of services allows the company to not only offer the concrete, but to essentially take over the complete supply for a client, and as long as the margins, profitability and volumes are beneficial, this service can be carried out anywhere around the world as a result of the business’s flexibility.
Combined with this is the company’s comprehensive portfolio of completed projects and projects in the pipeline, including the New Doha Port on behalf of China Harbour Engineering Construction in Qatar, The King Abdullah Financial City in Riyadh for Saudi Binladin Group and future involvement with the 2022 World Cup, showcasing its carbon free concrete to help meet sustainability objectives.
To align itself with the continuous improvement occurring within the organisation, the business structure that Unibeton adopts becomes increasingly prevalent.
A full management team set up in each operating country allows for complete autonomy in each case, scaling up to a central team which dictates the overriding strategy; incorporating governance over such issues as technology, environmental decisions and the supply chain, as Dufour explained: “The supply chain is also run centrally in terms of procuring high quality raw materials in each country of operation, allowing us to deliver high end quality concrete and be competitive in our markets.
“Here in the UAE for example, we have the autonomy and the greatest quality of aggregates and cement around, and this is largely down to the relationships we have kept with the same suppliers over a number of years.”
This leverage of strong, mutually beneficial partnerships has played a vital role in Unibeton’s geographical growth, being able to develop immediate, strong supplier relationships in a country where it previously had no presence.
Looking forward, Unibeton has every reason to be optimistic about its prospects, starting from a market-leading position and with innovations in place to suggest it will remain there for the foreseeable future.
Expansion of operations in Qatar and Saudi Arabia, alongside the sustainable growth within Oman are clear strategic objectives, but consolidation in its current areas remains the primary goal; maintaining the company’s adaptability to expand where the market place is most profitable.
Ultimately, over the next five years, Unibeton aims to build upon its already unparalleled reputation in areas of innovations, environmental issues, sustainability, recycling and the holy grail of cementless concrete.
“These innovations will take Unibeton to the next level and the market will have to adapt to it, putting us in a really good position,” Dufour concluded. “As the most professional people in the industry, we hope in time that the performance criteria will increase to a point where only a handful of companies will be able to meet it, and Unibeton will be one of them.
“Here in the UAE, for instance, we produced 110MPa concrete for structural elements of a high-rise tower in Dubai Marina, meeting Dubai’s new seismic design criteria to withstand earthquake tremors up to 5.9 on the Richter scale.
“This is something that we hope to see more and more of in the future, which will raise the bar for concrete suppliers to meet new structural design challenges, and Unibeton will always be part of that.”