SMAG (IVECO) Supporting RAK Public Works and Services Department (PWSD)



Words: John Bambridge


With the constant ebb and flow of construction projects in the region, it can be easy to forget the equally important range of vehicle and machine fleets supporting this work directly and indirectly — this includes the logistics and aggregates sector, but significantly also the municipal fleets that take over where the contractors finish, delivering the infrastructure that ties communities and commercial projects to the federal roads, landscaping the space in between and taking out the trash. In Ras Al Khaimah, the man presently handling these responsibilities is Engineer Ahmed Mohammed Ahmed Al Hammadi, executive council member and director general of the RAK Public Works and Services Department (PWSD), and it was ultimately his decision that saw the recent purchase of a large order of Iveco Trakkers heavy trucks equipped with Atlas tipper bodies for the municipal fleet. The crunch time came six months ago, when RAK PWSD was   valuating bids for a large fleet order. Al Hammadi explains: “Two years ago we went with Mercedes and Mammoet, but in the bidding six months ago, we did the analysis and chose Iveco, because they managed to match the specs of our main supplier, Mammoet, and we are optimistic that they will be better than our old fleet. Moving forward, if the trucks are a success, we will continue with them — so this could see the fleet shift. “We believe the Iveco trucks will be better in terms of maneuvering, and technically in operation. However, we are primarily interested in two things, both of which we will only come to know with time: how our drivers will handle this new combination on the road, and in turn, how our workers will handle them under maintenance — because the old ones came with an American chassis, and we have had a lot of trouble maintaining them.” While RAK PWSD carries out a wide range of different functions within Ras Al Khaimah — in fact, it is one of the largest departments in the local government — for the most part, the tipper-bodied trucks delivered by Iveco have been put to use on a very specific undertaking that is being carried out with all the seriousness of any large piece of national infrastructure.

The work in question is the levelling of land to provide the plots of land as part of the Zayed Housing Project — a presidential initiative to ensure that every Emirati citizen is able to build a house, and to this end is able to purchase a plot of land from the government. As the Emirati population continues to grow, so too does the demand for these plots. Al Hammadi says: “In the UAE, every local citizen is entitled to a piece of land for free.

It is one of his rights: free healthcare, free education, free plots — so what they need from us is to level those plots.” While this may sound like simple, the scope of the undertaking is significant. Ras Al Khaimah is nowhere near as flat as its sister emirates and its terrain rises quickly from the Gulf Sea over increasingly undulating dunes into foothills and then its mountains, including Jebel Jais, the highest peak in the Shifting sands Engineer Ahmed Al Hammadi, director-general of the Ras Al Khaimah public works  department, discusses the authority’s purchase of Iveco Trakkers in the context of the emirate’s public projects TRUCKS & MUNICIPAL FLEET ENGINEER AHMED AL HAMMADI is the director-general of the RAK Public Works and Services Department (PWSD) and an executive council member. We are primarily interested in two things: how our drivers will handle this new combination on the road, and, in turn, how our workers will handle them under maintenance.”

In 2016, RAK PWSD has been set the target of levelling 10,000 plots, but Al Hammadi highlights: “When we started four years ago, we started at only 5,000 — after two years we doubled the fleet.” It is Al Hammadi’s job to make sure things stick to schedule, and so far they are. This year the total number of plots leveled had passed 9,000 in early October, but the effort has required a non-stop schedule. Despite the fact that many of the active plot levelling sites are adjacent to existing residential areas, the trucks still work up to 11pm, and they start up again early the next morning. The work is carried out intensively to minimise the length of the disruption. UAE. The plots being levelled, as per royal decree, require RAK PWSD to pass through whatever obstacles lie in their path. At the present time, that  obstacle is dunes, which means sand, and a lot of it — and here we come full circle to the need for an effective fleet of tipper-bodied trucks. While RAK PWSD has a broad range of regular duties, from waste collection to road maintenance, it is the levelling project that is the main task in terms of its share of the department’s fleet resources — occupying some 50% of the available vehicles and equipment, according to Al Hammadi. By contrast, RAK’s entire waste management operation only accounts for 10% or so of the department’s fleet. The whole process of plot levelling on a mass scale began four years ago, when it was found that the delivery of plots in RAK was being outstripped by the demand for plots from the Emirati population. His Highness Sheikh Sheikh Saud Bin Saqr Al Qasimi, Ruler of Ras Al Khaimah, subsequently instituted a drive to deliver a fixed number of plots each year, and he calls Al Hammadi on a daily basis for an update on the progress of the work — often visiting the sites himself and issuing direct instructions. A large number of Komatsu excavators and articulated haulers work one of the levelling sites. However, on the flat, a tipper-bodied truck often beats a hauler on fuel efficiency. “We have been continuously  levelling,” Al Hammadi continues. “It started four years ago, and from that time we have levelling day and night, and we will be continuing for the next two or three years.” The sheer pace of the excavation, loading and dumping required to level the dunes and fill in adjacent depressions is why the choice of tipper trucks was so critical. Downtime is not an option. At the same time, in the cash-strapped economic climate, the RAK PWSD is constantly looking for ways to reduce its costs without cutting corners. Al Hammadi is driving change in the direction of higher productivity and performance and lower total cost of operation. Pointing to some existing inefficiencies, he notes: “The old vehicles, the old trucks — some of them really you cannot find spare parts — that’s why we are now very selective.

We are trying to unify our fleet and limit our selection to brands like Iveco. Before, we would purchase 10 units at a time: Iveco, MAN, Scania, Daimler; now we are thinking differently. Emphasising the pressure of parts supply, he adds: “It becomes too much. It is better to stick to two; not to keep one monopoly, We are trying to unify our fleet and limit our selection to brands like Iveco. Before, we would purchase 10 units at a time; now we are thinking differently.” 50% Proportion of the municipal fleet devoted to plot leveling.

Iveco Trakkers head back laden from a work site where a path is being cut through a dune to make way for a road but two If you have maximum three, ok, but unifying is now the trend.” The recent order with Iveco also presents the latest phase of a long-term relationship between RAK PWSD and both the Italian truck brand and its UAE distributor Saeed Mohammed Al Ghandi & Son (SMAG), of the Al Ghandi Auto Group, which first sold an order of Iveco vehicles to the authority more than 20 years ago.Graham Turner, CEO of Al Ghandi Auto Group, who was also on-site in RAK, says of the relationship between the two parties: “Aftersales is where the whole long-term point comes in. We have to work together — even though RAK PWSD is doing its own maintenance —because everything is now so technological that we have train our customer’s teams. Iveco and Al Ghandi do that to make sure that the technology is being used properly.” Al Hammadi responds: “Especially when you bring a new fleet or equipment really they

(SMAG) are helpful — they come here, they sit here for a week or two weeks, they train our guys and they do whatever is needed. Also, they have their back-up here — they have their spare parts right here in the UAE. That’s not the case with some other brands.” Turner adds: “It’s also a two-way street. We work closely with our customers, and they in turn don’t deal with the grey market — and that ultimately it benefits both of us. We have to be in partnership — if we just sold the trucks and ran away, it would be no good.” Al Hammadi adds: “It is going well. Our people are managing and cooperating. It’s like a family business now,” Turner chimes in. “That’s the way I try and run the company — like you’ve joined the family!”


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Source : Construction Week