Naya Pakistani will lead to Naya Pakistan

A candid conversation with Engr. Fahim Iqbal Siddiqui, CEO, FND Consulting Engineers

One of the most important and cost intensive part of any construction project is its air-conditioning system, which needs to be reliable as well as effective for the project to be successful. As the construction activities are accelerated across the country, the HVACR industry is flourishing as well. One of the most prominent names in the field of HVACR consulting is “FND Consulting Engineers (Pvt) Limited, a firm consisting of Consulting Engineers, specializing in Mechanical-Electrical-Plumbing (MEP) Building Services. The firm is based in Karachi with an office in Lahore and has to its credit prestigious projects all over the country.

Engineering Post went to Engr. Fahim Iqbal Siddiqui CEO & Principal Mechanical Consultant of FND Consulting Engineers to try to understand his perspective on the current market conditions. During the conversation he said that as new construction projects keep materialising there is no shortage of business in the market for now, but for the past few weeks a slowdown is noticed.

While speaking about the products being used in the projects he said “VRF systems are being used extensively in the Pakistani market, but we get to hear of many issues even now after so many years of VRF application in Pakistan. Secondly, especially in coastal areas like Karachi the outdoor units suffer damage because of the corrosive environment. Just recently LG and Samsung have launched units designed for coastal application and these units have special anti-corrosion coatings on the condenser and the entire outdoor unit is of thicker metal with anti-corrosion coating and also has PCBs provided with conformal coatings for protection of electronics against corrosion.  Other manufacturers should also follow suit.

During the exclusive interview with Engineering Post, Engr. Fahim Iqbal Siddiqui discussed at length the influx of Chinese products in the Pakistani market. He revealed that although China is producing many HVAC products, but the quality of AHUs is not at par with Turkish and European AHU’s.  He indicated that Turkish products, especially air-handling units, have improved in quality very substantially over the past 10 to 15 years, and they are getting Eurovent certification for their AHU’s. He opined that for Pakistani manufacturer’s it would be pragmatic to study the Turkish model and understand what steps were taken both at government and private level that caused very substantial improvement in their product quality and range of manufacturing of air-conditioning products.  

While commenting on the local manufacturing, Engr. Fahim Iqbal Siddiqui stated that there is a movement among the local manufacturers that advocates “Buy Pakistani”. Consultants are singled out for not specifying Pakistani products. Understandably this slogan is beneficial for the local manufacturers, and appeals to the emotions of all Pakistanis, but the local products fail to provide the level of quality and reliability required by Clients of high-profile projects.  Products imported from manufacturers of established brands provide good service and last a long time.  Certification from 3rd parties like Eurovent, AHRI, CTI, etc., give a high level of confidence to the Consultant & Client. 

Pakistani manufacturers of air-conditioning products need to shift gears. They need to make major investments in collaboration with established international brands and achieve technology transfer. Their products must have 3rd party certification. Government must be moved to give them the required incentives. They should study the Turkish modal and learn as what caused the spurt in growth in the past 10 to 15 years in the air-conditioning manufacturing sector in Turkey. After all cars manufactured in Pakistan are readily purchased by the vast majority.   Well manufactured and certified air-conditioning products will always be preferred over imported products both by the Consultants as well as Clients, as they too stand to gain due to lower costs, faster delivery due to savings in freight time as well as cost and readily available after-sales service.  Unfortunately, the vast number of business houses prefer to work as agents of established foreign manufacturers.  They also need to think “Buy Pakistani”.

During the exclusive interview with Engineering Post, Engr. Fahim Iqbal Siddiqui spoke at length about the declining standards of education from the educational institutes of the country and therefore the resultant decline in building up Pakistan. With the passage of time the overall quality is declining from engineers to technicians” he said. In previous times the education of a technician used to be the responsibility of an Ustaad. The one true professional who knew what he was doing and would train his Shagird. This transfer of skill was seamless and a thing of beauty which forged a proper professionally skilled worker whose skill and expertise would be at par with his Ustad if not better. This chain started breaking up from early ‘70s when the skilled workforce started getting jobs in Dubai. “The movement for the construction of Dubai resulted in a huge amount of skilled workforce leaving the country. All the “Ustads” left the country leaving a huge vacuum. This vacuum was filled by the Shagirds left behind who were not as proficient. These weak Shagirds became Ustads and resultantly produced weaker Shagirds and the process continued. Even today when we see the quality of work done by hand it is lower in quality than the one done in 70s and 80s” he explained. It is the need of the hour to work on the establishment and upgradation of vocational institutes in the country otherwise this sector will suffer even more. Someone once said to me the only difference between a Pakistani and a European is that a European is well trained; we need to invest heavily in vocational training, he added.

At the end of the interview Engineering Post asked Engr. Fahim Iqbal Siddiqui to share a word of advice for the upcoming engineers and entrepreneurs in the market who want to work in the country and will be the future of the industry in a few years’ time.  “I think the most important thing a new engineer can do for now is to become a good muslim according to the moral values dictated by Islam. This will lead him to be a good professional as well. When one inculcates the qualities of a good muslim his character, honesty, integrity determination discipline, he is bound to be successful in his personal as well as professional life,” he said. “We are in much more need of Naya Pakistani than Naya Pakistan. The change in the behaviours of individuals can bring change in Society”, he concluded.