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Austrian ‘formula’ for success

1. September 2010

With the upcoming 2010 Formula 1 Etihad Airways (November 12- 14) the air is alive with excitement. Noteworthy Austrian companies - PKE Electronics AG and Unger Steel Middle East- have played a substantial role in making YMC an outstanding motorsports venue. The Austrian Trade commission reports...

The Formula 1 season is fast approaching in Abu Dhabi. With the upcoming 2010 Formula 1 Etihad Airways (November 12- 14) the air is alive with excitement. Last year Yas Marina Circuit captured the imagination of the world when it debuted in with the first Formula 1™ Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

The purpose-built circuit, set amid the Yas Island, offers a unique combination of facilities: a state-of-the-art F1 circuit, multiple track configurations, two race control and pit areas, five covered grandstands, a driving academy, drag racing centre and much more. However, it is a well known fact that in making YMC an outstanding motorsports venue, the involvement of several world class companies is evident. Among them are two noteworthy Austrian companies - PKE Electronics AG and Unger Steel Middle East- who have been involved in the electrical and electronic systems, equipment and steel infrastructure respectively for the YMC.

PKE Electronics AG is a leading international service enterprise in the field of highly complex power-voltage and low-voltage current as well as projects in the field of Facility Management. The company is recognised for its services to set up and integrate power building systems, management systems, communication systems, alarm systems, fire alarm systems, video systems, access systems, recording systems and evacuation systems. At the YMC PKE Electronics AG also supplied the control and monitoring systems needed for racing, the various security and access systems and the power supply, a 22kv medium voltage network with 18 transformer units. At this circuit, for the first time in the history of Formula One, a race started in daylight and ended after dark. Also the race marshals no longer wave flags to signal important messages to drivers, this job is now performed by very bright LED panels alongside the tracks.

Says Gernot Froestl, Managing Direktor of PKE Gulf, “We are very proud to be a part of this top notch project and see it as the first step to expand our activities in the Middle East”
If PKE Electronic AG took over the electrical and electronic systems at the circuit, then all the steel infrastructures were Unger Steel Middle East’s prerogative. Unger Steel Middle East was established and developed around Unger Stahlbau Ges.m.b.H., one of Europe’s leading steel construction companies, which has acquired an excellent reputation for the on-schedule delivery of turn-key constructions. It represents the Unger Group’s comprehensive service range in the Middle East since the beginning of 2007. The new construction of the plant in Sharjah (UAE) was a milestone in the company’s expansion history. With the newly built plant in the Hamriyah Free Zone in Sharjah, Unger Steel has also become the first partner for structural steel engineering projects and as a general contractor for turnkey projects throughout the Middle East.

The company’s expertise in steel construction is visible from its current, well known, Formula 1 race track project, at Yas Island. Almost 5,200 tons of steel was fabricated and installed over the roofs of all grandstands, entrances and administrative buildings. Steel construction was primarily to support the Teflon fabric, to achieve the desired shape of interconnected tents over the roofs

Unger Steel Middle East FZE’s COO Naser Kandah says, “The entire steel construction was fabricated out of the structural pipes. These pipes required complex 3-dimensional cuts that were achieved by using state of the art machinery and technology, using ultrasonically tested complete penetration welds and environmentally controlled blast cleaning techniques. Detailed logistical planning also ensured that most loads were arranged during night time on specially formulated 25 m long trailers- to minimize disruption to the normal traffic.”

Adds Naser Kandah, “Unique design of single and double supported cantilevers necessitated complex erection techniques sometimes using three mobile cranes to install the steel construction in a safe and stable manner.”

Announced as a mere idea in 2007, the YMC has finally evolved into a full fledged race track thanks to the contribution of several superlative companies who have overcome several logistical challenges to make it a reality. For Austria it is a moment to be proud of as two of its well known companies have left an indelible mark on this outstanding venue for ever thus setting up a trail blazer for other Austrian companies to follow.