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Aurecon helps bring Qatar’s infrastructure vision to life

BMHS berth model for the Port of Umm Sa

Bulk Material Handling System berth model

25 January 2017 - Construction is booming in Qatar as the State drives an ambitious infrastructure programme in preparation for hosting the FIFA 2022 World Cup and works towards its National Vision 2030. Global engineering and infrastructure advisory company Aurecon provided its leading global bulk ports experience and sophisticated modelling technology to help the Port of Umm Sa’id almost double its capacity and boost the country’s building materials supply chain.

As in any global sporting event, the spotlight falls on the preparedness of the host nation, and specifically on the stadiums and supporting infrastructure. Reflecting this, the state of Qatar is working hard to ensure the smooth staging of the FIFA 2022 World Cup. One of the key aspects to ensuring the country meets its bold construction targets will be the reliable supply of building materials.

Aurecon played a leading role in providing design, delivery, advisory and asset management services to design solutions that ensure the Qatari construction industry receives a steady and reliable supply of gabbro, a construction material for concrete and asphalt.

“One of our primary goals is to maintain strategic reserves of primary building materials to ensure we can supply materials at any time the need arises,” said Engineer Eisa Al-Hammadi, Chief Executive Officer of Qatar Primary Materials Company (QPMC). “We hold rich reserves that can address the current market requirements when it comes to primary materials such as gabbro. We are committed to providing complete solutions for the transport, storage and delivery of key primary materials to support the burgeoning construction industry in Qatar.”

Boosting throughput

The vast majority of building materials in the country are supplied by QPMC, through its Port of Umm Sa’id (Mesaieed) Terminal. In response to Qatar’s massive infrastructure development programme, QPMC initiated an expansion of the Port, to boost the annual flow of gabbro through the terminal from 16.6 million tonnes per annum to 30 million tonnes. The plan for doing this revolved around making better usage of the facility’s existing Berths 2 and 3, and the six unloading cranes operating on those berths. 

Based on decades of experience in delivering and increasing throughput of some of the largest terminals in the world, Aurecon’s approach for its Engineering, Procurement and Construction (EPC) contract focused on the performance and efficiency of the proposed infrastructure and the integration of the new terminal facilities with both the upstream and downstream supply chain processes.

Glenn Hallahan, Aurecon’s Project Director, said the key to the success of this project was understanding the ultimate requirements and aligning all stakeholders to support them.

“At the time, we had recently assisted with the expansion of the Port of Fujairah in the UAE; so, in our first review of the project, we knew that a more detailed understanding of the impact on the supply chain would be required. We recommended advanced simulation modelling to evaluate the likely effects of the new design,” explained Hallahan.

“Our background work was extremely detailed and technical but, based on our internationally recognised award-winning innovation, we were able to present QPMC with a clear report that included animations and graphics to illustrate how the port and stockyard could operate without modifications to the original plan. The model highlighted bottlenecks that would limit the Port’s ability to maximise its capacity and brought the client’s focus onto resolving these issues.”

The modelling presented by Aurecon clearly demonstrated that to achieve the targeted throughput, changes were required from all supply chain partners. This included both upstream (quarries and shipping companies) and downstream (consignees) parties.

One example presented in the model demonstrated how stowage plans (how ships were loaded) at the port of origin could significantly impact unloading times in Qatar.  If the ships were loaded with preferred loading plans, they could be unloaded in 20 hours. Without the preferred plan, unloading could take up to 50 hours.

Aurecon also worked with QPMC to bring better efficiency to the portside stockyard. Aurecon showed how consignees should collect their cargo within 21 days to ensure the stockyard always has space to unload other ships in the queue. This information could then be factored into the process of establishing the fee-charging structure, and ensure it was designed to encourage consignees to support portside stockyard requirements.

Evolving a business case

Drawing on their extensive business advisory experience, the Aurecon team created a plan that would deliver better asset utilisation to QPMC, and allow the company to maximise the return on its investment. While the proposed design had the physical capacity to handle 30 million tonnes of material a year, changes to business processes, port charges and agreements were necessary to ensure it achieved its targeted throughput.

In addition, through its collaboration with Aurecon to solve the throughput issue, QPMC has also evolved its business, from a port operator into an end-to-end logistics player. This progression is also helping the company play its part in support of the Qatar Vision.

“We had a team of 14 people working locally in Qatar, but we were supported brilliantly by over 100 of our colleagues from all over the world,” said Hallahan. “A key contributor to our success was our commitment to the client’s success. By showing them other possible options to their plan that were in their best interest, we built a relationship based on mutual trust and respect. We are proud to play a key role in the development of QPMC and ultimately, Qatar.”

Official opening

On 8 December 2016, QPMC celebrated the inauguration of the Bulk Material Handling System (BMHS) project. The ceremony took place at Mesaieed Port under the patronage and attendance of HE the Prime Minister of Qatar and Minister of Interior Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa Al-Thani, and in the presence of HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Hamad bin Mohammed Al Sharqi, Crown Prince of Fujairah, QPMC Chairman Engineer Abdel Aziz Al-Ansari and Chief Executive Officer, Eisa Al-Hammadi, QPMC board members, Qatari ministers and dignitaries, in addition to representatives from the BMHS operating company and Chief Executive Officers from various government and private sector organisations.

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