UAE cladding firms invest in upgrades to produce more fire-resistant panels

A race between two Indian tycoons in the UAE to open the country’s first factory capable of producing A2-standard fire-resistant panels looks to have been won by Danube Group’s Rizwan Sajan.

Danube Group, which produces the Alucopanel cladding range under licence in the Middle East from its factory in Dubai Technopark, and its competitor Mulk Holdings have said that they have gained certification for their new A2 panels.

But Zohaib Rahman, the division head of Alucopanel Middle East, part of Danube Group, said it will be the first to begin commercial production, which is set to start after a launch event at the Technopark factory this morning.

A2 Standard panels are in the process of being made compulsory under the UAE’s Fire & Life Safety Code. The panels have a stone core, making them much less susceptible to igniting than many existing panels that have a polythene (LDPE) core. These have been highlighted as contributing towards a string of building fires in the UAE.

Alucopanel began trial production of A2 panels early last month, Mr Rahman said. “After the launch is over, we can start commercially.”

He said the company has added an extra production line to its factory in Technopark, which began operations last year. It has also ensured both lines are capable of producing A2 panels, which means it will have the capacity to produce up to 4 million square metres of A2 panels per year.

Meanwhile in Sharjah, Shaji Ul Mulk, the founder and chairman of Mulk Holdings, which produces Alubond USA aluminium cladding panels in the emirate, has announced a US$50 million upgrade to its facility which will lead to it having three new lines capable of producing A2-standard panels.

Mr Ul Mulk said that the $50m that it has invested has involved the upgrade of two of its three existing lines (one will be retained for lower-specification B-rated panels for export) and the introduction of a new A2 line. This will give it the capacity to produce up to 6 million square metres of A2 panels each year, making it the biggest facility of its kind in the world, he said.

The factory, which sits on a 50,000-square metre plot, is increasing in size by 50 per cent to 18,000 sq metres and additional facilities will be added, including additives manufacturing for an agent to bind the aluminium panels to the stone cores and a line to produce the substructures into which the panels will sit.

“The entire substructure is also being manufactured within the Sharjah facility. So we will become a one-stop supplier to the industry of the entire system,” he said. The upgrade is to be complete in the first quarter of next year, he said.

Alubond USA also has a factory in Turkey, which produces 2 million sq metres of A2-rated panels per year through which Alubond USA currently supplies the UAE market.

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