Lifting operations in construction projects require meticulous preparation, thorough planning and technical expertise. After all, the efficiency and the safety of lifting operations, which typically involve cranes - arguably the most expensive equipment on a construction site – can make or break a project’s budget, according to Kamal Kassab, Managing Director of Ant Dynamics.
Ant Dynamics was launched in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic last year. It is a Qatar Financial Centre (QFC) registered company that provides professional consultation services related to rigging and lifting. The services include the preparation of stand alone lifting plans which serve as the basis for executing successful and safe lifting operations. Moreover, the company is on a mission to advance the digitization and automation of lifting operations in the construction sector itself. Kassab views that while software has been adopted to enhance the performance of other disciplines of a project, such as planning, engineering, and accounting, most contractors have yet to adopt advanced software that enhances the planning of their lifting operations. “I started working in heavy lifting operations in 2003, and I do not see much advancement in the way we do our lifting studies,” said Kassab. “When I was just starting in the construction sector, our calculations, measurements, analyses, and studies were done manually and they took considerable time.
This kind of work was required to ensure that objects are lifted safely, to avoid the risk of an accident or disaster. Automation greatly reduces such risks because it removes the human factor, which means less chance of human error. Another benefit of automation is we get much faster and more accurate results while slashing the cost of the man hours needed to prepare such studies manually,” he added. With BIM and other 3D modeling tools becoming inherently part of construction projects, coupled with a need for reducing project costs, Kassab views that the construction sector will inevitably shift towards more cloud based digitization and automation. “I definitely think that contractors who have not yet adopted software will have to follow suit eventually.” Ant Dynamics is currently on a mission to advance the automation of lifting operations in the Middle East by incorporating 3D lifting plans into BIM and other 3D models. Doing so will enable contractors to visualize with clarity all the requirements needed to carry out lifting operations on construction sites. This will enhance planning and save unnecessary man hours and material that may have resulted from unforeseen clashes and interferences. “It’s the way forward right now.
We have to ride this technology, because construction planning is shifting towards 3D modelling and cloud storage, and this is also very beneficial for the coordination between the different disciplines of a projects,'' said Kassab, whose company Ant Dynamics is also licensed as the exclusive agent for Cranimax in the Middle East and North Africa.
Cranimax is an independent software company based in Germany, which has developed the global leading software CRANEbee, a tool that helps its users develop lifting plans very efficiently in 3D with the ability to export the results seamlessly into AutoCAD. CRANEbee contains all the data related to specific crane models and calculates the ground bearing pressures that cranes exert on the ground during a lifting operation. Since Kassab is a strong proponent of the software, his company Ant Dynamics relies very heavily on CRANEbee to provide its clients with Lifting Plans in 3D. In addition, he has already provided training to several companies in Qatar and other countries in the region on how to use CRANEbee, and he encourages all lifting engineers to use CRANEbee to prepare their lifting plans. It is said that with every adversity comes a new opportunity. This may be true with regards to the effects of the pandemic. “The pandemic has wreaked havoc everywhere, and it has had a big impact on many contractors. Although all of them were hit hard, most of them still managed to deliver their projects on time. Every cloud has a silver lining, and if there is one thing this pandemic has shown, it is that contractors managed to think of alternative ways to do the work despite the new challenges that resulted from the pandemic.
Going digital is one solution. We have to accept that the way we’re going to work in the next 10 years is not going to be the same way we’re working right now,” according to Kassab. Kamal Kassab, who has already worked on a number of projects in Qatar, including the construction of LNG Plants and of a stadium that will host Qatar 2022 World Cup matches, observed that some contractors have already started to embrace digitalization in the construction industry. To emphasize his point, he gave the example of how Autodesk has developed its software in such a way that construction reviews can be performed virtually: “If we look at Autodesk’s vision of construction, how people will be handling projects in the future will be very different from today.
very supervisor will be expected to have a notepad, to view the models in real time, and walk through construction sites while viewing the 3D models in real time”. Moving forward Kassab remains very optimistic in seeing his mission become a reality, especially in Qatar. “I am very happy that when I presented my idea to QFC, they believed in my vision. They gave me the opportunity to open a licensed company. It’s very promising and I think it’s the right approach to give technology a chance, which in turn will open new frontiers. Any fears on how such new technology will affect the job market can be put to rest by understanding that introducing new technology also introduces new job opportunities.” On why he set up his company in Qatar, he added: “Qatar is a good place to start. Due to its relatively small size, many businesses and projects can be reached easily from our office in Doha. Also the oil and gas sector, particularly the LNG projects are starting to pick up and we have observed that clients in Qatar are ready to embrace new technologies and adopt new methods”.