Kuwait-based Al Fajr Al Jadid specialises in automation and control solutions for industrial applications. Director Ano Nazarian talks about the importance of innovation and keeping abreast of the latest technology.
The secret behind many successful start-up companies is being in the right place at the right time. And that is certainly true for Kuwait-based Al Fajr Al Jadid. Now celebrating its 20th anniversary, the company has carved a leading position as a trusted manufacturer and supplier of cutting-edge automation and controls solutions, a success that can be put down to continuous effort to identify and develop the very latest technologies from around the world, and offer unique design solutions backed by high quality service.
The company was launched in 1992 at a crucial point in Kuwait’s history, just months after the nation’s liberation. “My vision,” says owner and director Ano Nazarian, “was to provide electrical control and automation solutions for small to medium-sized industries, using the latest technology.” The company started very small with just Nazarian and a handful of part-time employees. But in the aftermath of invasion and conflict, there was plenty of work available renovating and repairing industrial plant damaged by war, looting and neglect. “At that time, there was nobody else in the marketplace,” he continues. “The country was trying to rebuild its industrial capacity and was willing to invest. So the time was right for us.”
From the very beginning, the company’s expertise lay in understanding industrial processes in their entirety, and designing complete and highly specified automation and control solutions for repair and renovation as well as new installations. Now, as then, the company focuses on searching for and examining the latest technologies from around the world, bringing them back to Kuwait, trialling them and integrating the successful ones into the next generation of control and automation solutions.
Competition always comes hot on the heels of business success, and over the past 20 years many companies have entered this space. “And we have always stayed ahead of the competition by being at the cutting edge of technology and introducing new products and solutions every year,” Nazarian says. “By the time the competition finds out what we’re doing, we’ve moved on to the next step.”
Al Fajr has an enviable track record of introducing new ideas. Soon after its launch, the company became the first to introduce sophisticated automatic transfer switches for emergency standby power applications, and variable frequency drives for the HVAC (heating ventilation and air conditioning) industry in Kuwait. Now they are an industry standard. It was a similar story with power factor correction equipment.
A more recent success story has been the introduction of mobile synchronising systems for the oil industry. Oil wells in Kuwait are often in remote locations, so each pump is powered by its own electrical generator. Running 24 hours a day, the generators require maintenance at regular intervals. This involves shutting down the well, connecting a mobile generator, restarting the well while maintenance can be done, and shutting it down again while the main generator is reconnected. This results in a significant loss of output from the well, and often causes problems when the oil is brought online again. The solution Al Fajr devised to address this issue was to design and install generator synchronisation panels on the mobile power generators so they could be hooked up to the output of the existing generator and synchronised with it. The generator could then be switched off with no loss of power or need to shut down the well. This new innovation was originally put in place with Caterpillar mobile generators, and it has now become an industry standard for all mobile generators in the region.
Today, Al Fajr Al Jadid employs more than 50 staff and operates from multiple facilities. Thirty engineers and technicians are employed at the manufacturing plant on the Sulabiya Industrial Area, designing, assembling and commissioning control panels as well as providing maintenance and repair services for all the company products.
The automation division is located in the Shuwaikh Industrial Area. This facility provides hardware/software solutions, programming, engineering site support, SCADA and remote control systems. Factory acceptance testing and customer demonstrations as well as in-house training in automation systems is also part of this division.
The third very lucrative element of the company’s infrastructure is a major showroom selling, over the counter, a wide range of control and automation components and products from reputed manufacturers. This has positioned the company as a supplier to the entire industry in Kuwait, and provides a base from which to export products to the rest of the Gulf and beyond. The showroom building also houses the company’s administrative departments.
Facilities for bulk storage of products and components to service the immediate needs of the customers are a major element of the infrastructure. An electronic repair and service workshop provides repair services for industrial electronic equipment from any manufacturer.
Providing solutions and service is a major differentiator for Al Fajr, and has contributed significantly to its growth and reputation for excellence. Today, the company is a leader in its field in Kuwait, providing solutions and 24/7 callout services to large organisations including most of the country’s major banks and hospitals. “We put a great deal of time, effort and quality into the solutions we provide, so it’s not in our interests to try and tackle every project. Instead,” Nazarian continues, “we sell components to the companies who are also dealing with control and automation projects.”
Not only does Al Fajr have an excellent reputation with its customers, but it has also built a relationship of professional trust with many of the world’s top suppliers of automation and control products and acts as their qualified representative in the region. Among the many companies it deals with are Schneider Electric (France), ASCO (USA), Deep Sea Electronics (UK), Finder (Italy), Revalco (Italy), Phoenix Contract (Germany) and Boardman (UK).
Looking to the future, the company has begun providing automation solutions for other countries in the Gulf region and is actively examining other possible markets with a view to expand into the CIS (former Soviet Union) and African countries. If the company is able to translate this ethos of technical innovation and customer service beyond the borders of Kuwait, we are likely to see the name becoming established internationally in the near future.
Written by Gay Sutton; research by James Boyle