The role a Czech company played in the building of the Burj Dubai
Last month spelt the end of a major six-year-project for Czech businessman Pavel Policar, the head of a company that helped build what is now the world’s tallest building, the Arab Emirates’ Burj Khalifa (until recently the Burj Dubai). At an incredible 828 metres, it is the world’s tallest free-standing manmade structure. And it was the family-owned company, Pega, based in Pardubice - founded by Pavel Policar’s father-in-law - that designed and built the world record-breaking construction elevators that helped make the tower a reality.
Before then, the firm had designed and produced hoists for buildings 200 or 300 metres tall; but even such skyscrapers are in a different league from what are Policar calls the “supertalls”. In Arabic, Burj means tower and this was one tower that was unique from the very start. Businessman Pavel Policar:
Pega had already been present in Dubai on a number of other projects and also involved in major projects in Australia and the USA. But to clinch something like the Burj, meant many hours of careful negotiation, research and assessment. Eventually, Pega Hoist bid successfully for the deal. Pavel Policar again:
After winning the contract, what followed was the hardest job of all: the grind of putting up and managing a dozen or so hoists at the site, which operated practically 24/7 over four years’ time, lifting equipment and personnel, of whom there were as many as 12 thousand on the site. Day-to-day operations meant being on call at all times, whether at home in the Czech Republic or in Dubai:
All the same, Pavel Policar says, operations went smoothly. That doesn’t mean they weren’t stressful. And I asked him how, when he had the time, he managed to relax:
“It’s got to be something with adrenaline. I used to compete on skis and in volleyball, but I don’t do that anymore. But I started motocross riding when I was 39-years-old. And I play ice hockey. Within two hours you are bruised and beaten up and it’s the same in motocross. But it helps me relax. They are super-intensive sports. They help me eat, which I usually can’t, sleep, which I usually don’t, and to be a relatively bearable husband, which I’m usually not! The answer is motocross and ice hockey!”
“We called it the ‘Inter-City’! That was the one that had few stops and was travelling very long distances. That was the fastest machine: 425 metres, one hundred metres per minute, with 3.2 tonnes of material. That was the world record. Then, there was one that was dedicated just to material. And other machines with odd or even floors, just to make travelling as efficient as possible. We fine-tuned this with Samsung and they were really good at that and it worked perfectly. Everything about the hoists was designed and manufactured by us, with the exception of some parts such as motors and gearboxes, which we traditionally buy from a large German manufacturer.”
According to the businessman, working above the clouds was an incredible experience:
And, says Pavel Policar, he went close to the very top, where his firm built a permanent hoist, to be used by maintenance, which rests at more than 600 metres above the ground.
“We would be bad managers, there would have to be something wrong if we had exclusivity for the rack-and-pinion technology but if we hadn’t won the contract for the permanent lift at the top. It’s there, the highest-placed elevator anywhere in the world, it’s approved and it’s running. For us this was the cherry on top.”
Photo: archive of Pavel Policar