10 minutes with Phil Burns

Sound & Stage discovers more about the world of portable power with Phil Burns, managing director of Aggreko Middle East
Phil Burns, MD, Aggreko Middle East.
Phil Burns, MD, Aggreko Middle East.

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Sound & Stage discovers more about the world of portable power with Phil Burns, managing director of Aggreko Middle East.

S&S: Tell us about the services Aggreko provides to the Middle East event industry.
Aggreko is the leading supplier of temporary power and temperature control services to the major events industry both here in the Middle East, and globally, with 2014 being another huge year for our events business. We were the official temporary power provider to the FIFA World Cup in Brazil and the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games. We also supplied temporary power and temperature control solutions to the 40th Ryder Cup held recently at Gleneagles in Scotland.

In the Middle East, Aggreko supports many major events across the annual events calendar. This includes concerts, motor racing, national day celebrations, festivals, product launches, film festivals, exhibitions, international sporting tournaments and some of the most extravagant private parties imaginable.

In addition, Aggreko also services a wide variety of industry sectors including utilities, oil and gas, mining, petrochemicals and construction. While our work in events is undoubtedly important in terms of revenue and the high profile it brings to the Aggreko brand, the business accounts for about four per cent to eight per cent of our annual revenues globally.

S&S: Does Aggreko offer any unique equipment or services and how can these benefit clients?
We are unique in a number of areas. Firstly we lead in terms of the size of our fleet. Globally we have around 10 GW of power generation capacity. This is enough to power Singapore. Consequently there is no event that is too large for us to deliver.

Aggreko can also run major international events at the same time. This summer we simultaneously supplied the FIFA World Cup in Brazil and the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games. This was in addition to the peak summer events season taking place in the UK, Europe and North America. No other company has the amount of equipment and ancillaries, such as cabling and distribution, plus the experienced manpower to deliver such a huge amount of event work concurrently.

Another unique aspect is our team of event professionals. While having the best equipment and a huge fleet is is one thing, having the knowledge and capability to make it all work without risk of interruption is down to the skill and experience of our engineers and technicians.

Aggreko has been operating for more than 50 years and have been present in the Middle East since 1991. This unrivalled experience means we have seen the local market grow, and have also witnessed some of the tougher times.

With the Middle East events market there is the constant desire to push the envelope. The local events industry consistently chooses Aggreko because they know we have the experience and imagination to rise to these challenges and deliver a flawless execution.

S&S: Have you been witnessing a growth in the events market? If so, how has this impacted your company and the industry as a whole?
We’ve had operations in the region for 23 years so we have seen our fair share of the boom times and the more quiet periods. Currently we are seeing excellent growth across the region, with our work in events being no exception. Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Doha are doing very well, while our business in Turkey and Oman is also showing some very positive numbers. The local events industry has really matured in recent years. Now days, we have an industry in which any of the major global touring acts can be staged locally and delivered to the same level of professionalism and audience experience as anywhere else in the world.

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S&S: What has been the largest event that you’ve catered for in the region and what did you supply?
Some of the motor racing events we do are massive in terms of the amount of individual generators and chillers we provide. With these events being staged across very large areas, the amount of ancillary equipment required such as cables and distribution boards is also huge. We have also seen the various National Day celebrations across the region growing in size and complexity.

S&S: Do you think large events planned in the region — such as Expo 2020 and the Qatar World Cup - are having an effect on the market and your own future plans?
These events will definitely bring significant business opportunities. Not only for the events themselves but also with the huge amount of infrastructure that will need to be built, and with the pre-events that will take place leading up to Expo 2020 and the World Cup.

S&S: How does Aggreko cater to safety regulations?
Aggreko has a global safety standard across our business which is developed and maintained by a central team focused exclusively on health and safety. Management lead by example and every Aggreko employee is contractually obliged to adhere to our health and safety requirements. Training is a significant part of this and every employee has the right to ‘stop work’ if an issue effecting the safety of our employees, customers or the wider community is observed.

Our global safety standards either meet or exceed the most stringent requirements of every international jurisdiction, including Australia and Europe, which have some of the strictest requirements. Maintaining optimum health and safety standards in the workplace is a constantly evolving challenge. We therefore regularly update and assess our performance to ensure that we are achieving to the very highest levels.

S&S: Are there any ‘green options’ available for powering an event that you can supply?
Temporary overlay infrastructure like our power and temperature control equipment has very strong sustainability credentials as the equipment is continually reused from one event to the next. This avoids the unnecessary purchase of equipment that may only have limited usage requirements.

This is becoming an increasingly prevalent aspect of major events. The 2012 London Olympics were seen as the most sustainable Olympic Games ever. Mostly temporary stadia was utilised in and around existing infrastructure. Aggreko was the official temporary power supplier to the event, and much of the same equipment and ancillaries from London were used again this year in Brazil and Scotland.

Aggreko designs, manufactures and maintains all of its equipment in house. We ensure that it surpasses the most stringent environmental standards in terms of fuel efficiency and emissions. Our generators and fuel tanks are fully bunded to ensure no liquid spills and each unit is specially designed to keep noise emissions to the lowest possible levels. We also offer a range of fuel options including gas and bio-diesel which help to minimise the environmental impact of staging major events.

S&S: What’s lined up for the rest of the year/into 2015 at Aggreko that you can tell us about?
The local event season is now in full swing. Along with the numerous concerts, festivals and sporting events coming up, we are also seeing a huge spike in both the number and size of major industry exhibitions.

So far in 2014, our events business has seen very healthy growth and the remainder of the year and into 2015 is looking promising. I would also like to recognise and thank our numerous partners and customers across the region who are all helping to ensure that the Middle East is one of the most vibrant and exciting events markets globally.

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