Idama Facilities Management has signed a strategic partnership agreement with the UAE Football Association (UAEFA). This four year partnership will serve the association’s football complex in Al Khawaneej. Ali Al Suwaidi, Vice President, Idama, speaks about this new development and matters related to the maintenance of such facilities plus other aspects of their operations in an interview given to Swaliha Shanavas.
As part of the new partnership with UAEFA, Idama will provide a comprehensive integrated range of FM services for the Al Khawaneej complex including engineering services, soft services, and strategic solutions such as QHSE and energy saving initiatives. Idama currently provides integrated FM services for over 75 million sq ft of real estate development in Dubai. With its expertise in total facilities management, the company will manage the main building, medical section, indoor playing area and all sporting facilities within the Al Khawaneej football complex. Ali Al Suwaidi, Vice President of Idama, says, “Idama’s Facilities Management solutions will collaborate with UAEFA to optimise efficiency, implement best practice and sustainable solutions throughout the UAEFA sport facility.”
Maintaining a sport facility differs from others with regard to certain aspects. “A sport/ event facility has MEP (Mechanical, Electrical, Plumbing) services similar to those found in other buildings. However, depending on the nature of events held in such facilities, the systems installed are often more sophisticated with a fair degree of added complexity, the VP states. “For example, a swimming facility will understandably benefit from a significantly larger plumbing system with generally complex filters and strainers in addition to a chemical treatment system to ensure that the water quality is always compliant with that dictated by FINA (The Fédération Internationale de Natation, the international governing body of swimming, diving, water polo, synchronised swimming and open water swimming). Similarly, air treatment equipments (AHU, OHU) are larger in swimming venues to ensure dehumidification operations are smoothly taking place during events. In some cases (such as a football pitch), uniquely designed systems (drainage system) can exist. Such systems have no equivalent in other facilities.”
Another aspect that differentiates sports venues from ‘normal’ facilities is the generally higher degree of system redundancy to avoid (or at least greatly minimise) system failures during events. Taking the same example above, he says the pumping systems will benefit from more standby pumps that are ready to start should the demand for it rise. Similarly, the power distribution will be more complex to allow for more backup power, with typically a greater number of generators, ATS, and a SCADA system to manage the utility distribution across the sport the facility so that all power shed/share operations are fully automated in order to avoid disturbing events, he further explains.
Idama will provide both soft and hard services to the facility. The soft services include cleaning, security, pest control and landscaping. Under preventative maintenance the company will provide mechanical, electrical and plumping services. Apart from this, special services such as fire fighting and fire alarm systems, lifts, turf management including fertilisation/ irrigation and drainage systems will be provided.
Regarding the pre- and post-event tasks and planning Al Suwaidi states, “Checklists establishing availability of critical equipment are established pre-event. This activity applies to both main and standby equipment and must refer to past activities (PPM and CM) carried out on the equipment. Similarly, existing Risk Management and Business Continuity (RM/BC) Plans are activated to ensure the risks are lowered to an acceptable level. Manpower deployment plans are drawn according to these RM /BC plans and people/skills are made ready for the event days. After any event, a lesson learned meeting is held to go through the challenges faced during the events. The RM /BC plans are accordingly updated for future events.”
Maintenance is key to ensuring the facility is operating in a safe and efficient manner. In the VP’s view, the main aspect of maintaining an event facility is the implementation of a comprehensive maintenance and repair plan, which starts with an understanding of what needs to be maintained or repaired, beginning with an audit. “A real challenge is for the facility managers, who not only have to manage a highly-popular venue for visitors, but also have to ensure the maintenance of a facility that can frequently see hundreds of feet. At a corporate level, it means delivering on strategic and operational objectives on a day-to-day basis. It also means providing a safe and efficient environment and monitoring every aspect of its functions. Plumping systems, for example, are critical in sport facilities for rest rooms, shower areas. The first observation to highlight with plumping systems concerns the amount of pressure necessary to lift water to highest plumbing fixture.”
Fire suppression system is another area to consider. Putting out fires effectively requires more than fire extinguishers and axes. The first step in fire prevention entails developing strategies that minimise the potential for fires, he says. Another problem area for facility managers is that of pests and the challenge is to get rid of the pest while limiting the potential associated safety risks, he observes. “Turf management companies are using pesticides that alert the insect’s metabolism instead of using insecticides.”
Outdoor sports facilities have their own unique issues and the necessary steps that can be taken to ensure a facility is in reasonably playable condition involves a lot of preparation for the event. Another area of concern in this context is the type of grass used and ways to maintain it properly, from mowing and fertilising to providing for proper field drainage, he emphasises.
Sustainability is an increasingly important topic within the business world and in facilities management. Driving the re‐thinking of many traditional practices, it is more than operational efficiency or integrating business functions, says Al Suwaidi adding that it is about carbon footprints, minimising waste and maximising energy efficiency and a required skill set for facility managers to learn and adopt positive business practices.
“One of the key elements in managing any system within a facility is tracking usage and expenses. Building on our expertise in offering energy management solutions and as facilities management responsible for FA assets we will analyse where and how energy is utilised and accordingly take specific steps to reduce expenses. Electric energy is the largest operational expense for most facilities, particularly during events and high occupancy.”
He further says in sport lighting is crucial for seeing the action on the field during a night game and that facility managers need to be concerned with both indoor and outdoor lighting. “The fact that a system is cheaper to install does not mean that the system will be less expensive in the long run. Instead, we advise the installation of energy‐efficient lighting wherever it is profitable, while maintaining or improving lighting quality. We also intend to promote technologies that support sustainable facilities and plan to reduce energy consumption and water consumption. Landscaping can generate cost savings by reducing maintenance-related expenditure.”
On the social aspect of sustainability, Al Suwaidi says they agreed with FA management to run yearly corporate responsibility activities and initiatives targeting all segments and communities and would include education, environment, health and many other events.