Helping make all the right services and utility connections for the UAE’s latest mega project is the job of Volvo CE-equipped Turkish infrastructure specialist DETECH Contracting.
‘Can’t’ is a word that Dubai’s ruler Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum doesn’t seem to have in his vocabulary. No project has proven too big or too ambitious for the man who is determined to transform the once-humble Gulf port town into a global mega city. In many ways, his latest venture – the creation of a 3.2km (1.9mi) waterway through downtown Dubai – is among the most ambitious yet.
When fully opened in 2017 the project – called The Dubai Water Canal – will range in width from 80 to 120m (262.5 to 393.7ft) and be six meters (19.7ft) deep. The construction of the 2 billion-dirham project is progressing at breakneck speed; unveiled at the end of 2013, building work has already passed the 60% completion point and construction works are due to be finished by next September.
Phase One of the project consisted of building two eight-lane elevated road bridges – allowing the longest road in the UAE – the Dubai-Abu Dhabi E11 highway (also known as the Sheikh Zayed Road) – to soar over the soon-to-be excavated canal. These multi-span bridges, each 600m (1,968.5ft) long, 36.7m (120.4ft) wide and with a navigational clearance of eight meters, opened to traffic in late June this year – but not before a considerable amount of modification in the vicinity of the project.
Working for the main contractor is DETECH Contracting, who was given the task of the utility diversion work. This included micro-tunneling and the protection of existing 132 kV cabling, water main lines, sewerage rising main/gravity pipes, as well as communications services. All the utilities had to be relocated before excavation of the canal could begin in earnest.
Established in 2006 by Mr. Halit Onur Kutlu, Mr. Aytac Akturk and Mr. Mura Tavukcu, DETECH (short for Dubai Engineering Technology) quickly built a solid reputation in the emirate as a utilities specialist, promoting it to main contractor status on many projects. Mr. Onur is one of three partners (pictured) in the company, all of whom are civil engineers. Experienced contractors in their native country Turkey they rode the wave of optimism Dubai was then enjoying, and by 2008 were employing over 250 people. When the financial crisis hit shortly afterward DETECH, suffered along with the rest of the industry – and by 2010 the workforce had shrunk to 200 people. But DETECH demonstrated that it was in Dubai for the long haul, and has rebuilt its workforce such that it now employs some 850 people.
“We’re not just digging in the sand anymore,” says Mr. Onur, who is responsible for the company’s equipment decisions. “A lot of Dubai’s projects now are downtown, and managing the sewage, drainage, irrigation and telecoms is as complex here as in any other major city.”
As if proving the point, this project was not without its own difficulties. For example, the proposed corridor already had several unmapped utilities running through it – while another required the sewage pipes to be sunk to an unplanned depth of 10m (32.8ft).
“If you hit unexpected situations or bad ground structures, you can be in trouble,” says Mr. Onur. “With the risk of damaging existing or unknown utilities ever-present, it’s a bit like working in a minefield. So you need to be flexible. Luckily, in this project we had very good teamwork and quickly resolved any difficulties, coming up with a new plan in a good way.”
Such is the high profile of the project DETECH decided that it needed suitably high quality machines to support them. After an initial six-month trial renting two Volvo excavators, the company has built up its fleet of 70 machines so that it now includes 12 machines from Volvo. These machines have been supplied by respected local dealer FAMCO and span the size classes, including EC480D and EC300D heavy excavators, L120F wheel loaders, DD15 double drum compactors, BL61B backhoe loaders and MC60 skid steer loaders.
The larger Volvo excavators (EC300D and EC480D) are specified with longer booms, allowing excavating at depths of up to 12m (39.4ft). Both are also fitted with hammer hydraulic lines. Given the extreme dust and temperatures of the work site – which can reach in excess of 50oC (122oF) – suitable machines are also fitted with tropical kits that include oil bath pre-cleaners.
Supplied with a service contract that is being delivered by FAMCO, the machines are working at their optimum levels. “Fuel consumption is very important, as is maintenance, rapid parts supply and technical help. It’s also important that operators like using the machines, and the Volvos are proving very popular,” says Mr. Onur.
The Dubai Water Canal, when water flows through it for the first time next year, will see the extension of the Dubai Creek such that it connects with the Business Bay and the Arabian Gulf. It will create new public places and facilities with a total area of 80,000m2 (861,112.8ft2) with private marinas for boats and a trade center at the entrance of the canal.
Picture 1: DETECH Contracting was giving the task of protecting and relocating 132 kV cabling, water main lines, sewerage rising main/gravity pipes, as well as communications services for the Dubai Water Canal project.
Picture 2: DETECH Contracting’s Volvo EC300D crawler excavator has a longer length boom, allowing excavation at depths of up to 12m (39.4ft).
Picture 3: Halit Onur Kutlu, Aytac Akturk and Mura Tavukcu, have built DETECH’s reputation as a utilities specialist.
Picture 4: Another Volvo excavator in DETECH Contracting’s fleet gets stuck into the project.