Why water fed pole a Qata skyscraper?

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Martin Meakins is the owner of Reach and Wash in Perth, Australia. His company was established back in 2004 and although it is a Perth based business, the Company operates throughout Australia and overseas providing multi disciplined project services to a wide range of industries.

screen-shot-2013-03-17-at-10-22-11-amMartin is also the owner of the awesome picture we used on the cover of a back issue of WCM. He spent 18 months on and off in Qatar on The Marriott Doha building. The equipment in the picture are from IONIC, Quattro Electric’s and Glass Poles for strength.

It was such an iconic picture that got people talking, we simply had to get Martin’s story behind the picture.

“You have to chat with this guy in Sydney” says Mark Senior previous owner of IONIC Australia, “he has started up in Doha (Qatar) and reckons it’s the big time, could be good for business Marty, go and show them how to operate the Quattro’s they bought and fix the Pro Six as they can’t seem to get it to work”.

That was the start of the adventure; it all seemed very romantic in a Lawrence of Arabia kind of way! I packed a small bag (I hate luggage) got the 2am shuttle to Perth Airport and flew to Qatar via Dubai.

“Jose (office manager from Kerala) will meet you at the airport” said Richard from R2A, “I have meetings all day and can’t make it personally, see you at the hotel later”.

No Jose! Why doesn’t that surprise me, catch a cab I reckon, easier said than done, arrive at the hotel to more confusion, “ I am sorry Sir” they all call you Sir here, Sir Marty sort of has a nice ring to it, “We have no booking for you,” said the Indian desk clerk, “ of course you don’t” I said, I did my time in India in the early nineties.

A few day’s later and recovering from the jet lag I found myself staring at Zig Zag Towers the conversation with Richard went something like this, “This place is a gold mine Marty, we just need to find out who’s in charge”. “This time next year Rodney we’ll be millionaires”, I replied.

Eventually, I found the people in charge. This is ex-pat country so I frequented the Rugby club and the late night bars and then Bingo!

“Marty we would be happy for you to clean our towers mate”. Everyone was so friendly and with no real alternatives it all seemed too easy, scope the buildings, draw the plan, sign the contracts, write a JSA and away we go!

“How do we clean these towers Richard”, I said through the patchy Skype signal (Richard had gone home after eight days) “All of them are as high as the Empire State, 99% of them have only one tap on the roof, and most of those don’t actually have any water coming out of them”.

It was a struggle I have to admit to carry the Quattro’s to the roof, find some sort of water source usually in the gent’s toilet four floors down with the aid of buckets and twenty staff, fill the 500ltr water tanks then rely on gravity to feed the water into the machines as there was never any power on the roof and most often a barrage of opposition from the overly officious security people who’s sole purpose in life is to cause maximum disruption to any form of work being carried out in their domain.

It didn’t help that our Pilipino rope guy’s had a mutual dislike for their Indian counterparts and simply refused to work in a team where they could not understand each other (kind of crucial when suspended 70 floors up) and more often than not it was so damn hot and windy you couldn’t even breath.

Sandstorms, heat, dust, wind, peril on the high sea’s, I had to find a solution.

Some time later back in Perth I take my kids to the local fare, the fire brigade are giving a demo of bush fire control. I am staring at what turns out to be an ‘Onion bag’, a large canvas type bag that holds 1000 litres of water, attached to which is a Davey pump supplying copious amounts of water to a fireman holding his hose!

It was a eureka moment, “that’s it!!” I said to my missus. “That’s what?”, she replied.

“It’s a f**cking miracle, a sign from god or something” within minutes I had used my trusty iphone to find a supplier for the onion bags.

“Here’s the plan” I was on Skype to everyone, “Put the Quattro’s on the roof, fill the onion bags with pure water, attach a pump to the onion bags and feed the water via small diameter hoses to the techs on the ropes, cut down the poles to a manageable size and start cleaning”. “Moreover, if we work at night during summer we can avoid the heat and wind of the day that has plagued us for months, we wont upset the security guy’s who are worried about water falling on their patrons and we wont have to re-clean previously cleaned area’s because the wind has blown the debris all over it”

To avoid entanglement in the ropes we used for access I came up with a manifold for the hoses that could be lowered at the same rate as the techs and discovered that if you kept it approximately 5 meters lower than their poles they could achieve a higher pressure at the brush head, not sure why as I wasn’t that crash hot at physics in school but I reckon it has something to do with gravity.

It takes a fair bit of management and coaxing of equipment, getting the building owners to put in taps and power, staff training is important and humour plays a large part in getting through your day. The Quattro’s don’t like the heat, at times the cylinders have literally exploded showering everyone with there contents usually followed with lots of swearing.

We have refined the equipment lists and Mark (previous owner )bof IONIC in Melbourne put together a more robust system for a tower here in Perth that uses larger flatter bladders that distribute loads more evenly as well as coming up with a static system that has a more reliable design in hot climates.

We have applied the same process to all of our Australian operations and in true pioneering spirit have started to share this process with our partners and customers, for now I am back at home as the money just didn’t seem very forthcoming in the Middle East although I still have that romantic notion that someone will call up and give it all another try.

A few have tried and failed, I have seen their efforts on Youtube.

 

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