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SMS Projects > Articles > What you see and what you don’t, when it comes to

What you see and what you don’t, when it comes to electro-mechanical system management and control

What does the definition of electro-mechanical systems include?
Yoram Kraus: "Electro-mechanical systems are actually all of the systems within the building, excluding the structure itself.  This definition includes the electrical, communications, fire detection, plumbing, low voltage systems and all of the security and control systems, the elevators and, of course the air conditioning systems".

What is the role of the electro-mechanical systems manager/supervisor in a construction project?
Yoram Kraus:  "The electro-mechanical systems manager/supervisor in a construction project is supposed to coordinate all of the different systems planned for the building.  He must ensure that there are no clashes between the systems and their infrastructures, as well as the correct interoperation of the various systems.  For example, ensuring that the various openings and passages do not interfere with each other, that the ducts do not interfere with the electrical ladders, that the air conditioning drainage pipes indeed fit in with the structure's duct system, that there is nothing to interfere with the operation of the smoke and fire detectors, not from the air conditioning or any other system, so that smoke removal will  be optimal, and innumerable other elements whose installation must be handled and steps must be taken to ensure perfect and clean operation thereof".

How is that done?
Yoram Kraus:  "The electro-mechanical systems manager/supervisor begins working in the preliminary project planning stages.  He compiles all of the plans from the consultants, professionals and engineers, each specializing in a certain field and responsible for a single system, and coordinates all of the plans with the architect, in order to create a systems coordination plan, which professionals call "super position".   In many cases, he is also responsible for external systems, such as the sewage system or the security and control systems, which are also outside of the structure.

To what extent do Israeli developers utilize the services of electro-mechanical systems managers/supervisors?
Yoram Kraus:   "Compared to Europe or the U.S., we are still far from rendering the electro-mechanical systems manager into an integral part of the professional team involved in a construction project.  In Europe, for example, building a house without employing an electro-mechanical manager, full-time, is unheard of, not to mention when constructing large and more complex projects.  But here in Israel, everyone tries to save and round corners wherever possible, even where it is prohibited.  Even large companies and veteran real estate developers often try to save in this regard, erroneously assuming that all of the consultants, engineers and planners will work with the architect, and everything will work out…"

And really, why can't the architect cover this area too?

Yoram Kraus:  "First of all, because the architect invests most of his time in issues relating to planning spaces and the structure exterior.  Secondly, the architect, by trade, is a construction professional, and any intelligent person who peeks at the list of electro-mechanical systems included under the definition of "electro-mechanical systems", will realize that they call for a professional who specializes, both technically and in engineering terms, in each of these systems.  Each of the systems mentioned above is a professional field in itself, which requires know-how, understanding and specific experience measured over years.  To think that a "builder", no matter how experienced, can do the world of an electro-mechanical systems specialist is not only a mistaken assumption; it is a sign of disrespect toward all of the disciplines included under the definition of electro-mechanical systems".

How did SMS of Tel Aviv become the first choice of international hi-tech giants, such as Google, SAP and others?
Yoram Kraus:  "The field of electro-mechanical systems was our area of expertise when SMS began.  At the time, in the early '90's, when we worked out of small offices in a house in Tel Aviv, we identified a void in the field of electro-mechanical systems management and control in Israel.  We knew that this is an area that requires a level of expertise and investment that is beyond that which is required in the construction world, both in terms of personnel and in terms of time.  But if you excel in this field, then you also perform well in other areas of construction management.
"We introduced the SMS added value to every project – our unique managerial method, which is based on comprehensive strategic planning, advanced and computerized management methods and the most innovative and original executive solutions, together with our absolute and uncompromising commitment to quality and excellence.
"SMS' power and uniqueness is in our ability to translate all of these pretty and lofty words into real results in each project.  Our first projects with "Google" and "SAP", which included advanced communication infrastructures and complex electro-mechanical systems, established the recognition in SMS' capabilities, leading to continuous operations and further projects derived of those international hi-tech giants.  It is also important to mention the complex project that SMS carried out for "Mellanox", which consisted of a data center and among the most advanced communication infrastructures in the field".

Is this a case of "appreciated abroad, but not at home", or are Israeli companies also familiar with SMS' leadership in the field?
Yoram Kraus:  "We all know that Israel is a very small place and that when you are good at something – everyone knows about you.  Needless to say, everyone wants to work with the best.  Therefore, SMS also performed high technology projects for leading Israeli companies as well, requiring advanced and complex infrastructures.  Thus, for example, "Bezeq" selected SMS to manage its largest and most complex projects, such as constructing the main computing center in Jaffa, and "Bezeq Tech" in Haifa, with one of the largest call centers ever to be built in Israel.  SMS also managed a project for "HOT", which called for the establishment of its control center and headquarters in Park Yaqum, including a data center and broad infrastructure of advanced and sophisticated electro-mechanical systems".

Why is it so important, when it comes to electro-mechanical systems, to work with a manager/supervisor who specializes in the field?
What does an electro-mechanical coordinating engineer do in such large projects?

"He is responsible for air conditioning, electricity, structure control, elevators, fire detection, plumbing, etc.  In practice, he coordinates all of the systems within the building, excluding the building itself.  In large structures, the systems are complex and therefore he must prevent "clashes" and ensure proper interoperation – such as between the fire and smoke detection and extinguishing systems and the air conditioning and smoke ventilation systems".  The coordinator is in constant contact with all of the structure consultants, also addressing issues relating to the architecture, such as coordinating entrances and passages.  The final outcome is a systems coordination (super position) plan.  The coordinator takes on the position immediately as the professional consultants begin planning and he is responsible for the coordination efforts throughout the building, including the external systems (for example, sewage).

Which problems do you encounter in your position?
"Typical problems are clashes between various systems and problems with openings and passages.  For example, a duct system that interferes with electrical ladders or air conditioning drainage pipes in locations that render it difficult to drain the structure, or lack of space in various passages.

Does this position exist in every construction project?

"There should be an electro-mechanical systems coordinator in each complex or large structure, and not necessarily in tall residential buildings.  In Europe, for example, building a house without employing a super position engineer, full-time, is unheard of.  Here in Israel, it's different.  Lot owners, holdings managers and contractors, even the largest and best known, often try to save in this regard, erroneously assuming that all of the consultants, engineers and planners will work with the architect.
"There is a big double error in this assumption.  First, the architect is very busy planning the spaces and providing solutions for issues that constantly arise relating to the space and building exterior.  Secondly, the planning engineers and on-site supervisors are usually construction specialists and they are not really proficient with systems coordination.  This is an essential position and using a construction professional used instead of an electro-mechanics specialist may cause severe problems".

What are the major problems in tall construction?
The problems with tall buildings include smoke ventilation, escape routes, required shafts, equipment location, noise, etc.  In addition, there are cardinal decisions to be made, such as whether or not to build water cooling towers or work with air condensation systems.  There are important questions, such as how to plan the fresh air systems, the emission systems and the air treatment systems, are questions that we mulled over very intently.  The most important issue is providing creative, aesthetic and high quality solutions.  There is no value to a perfect and well designed building, if its emission systems pollute the environment.  We are committed to planning the construction in a manner that will also be suited for a residential neighborhood, i.e. first and foremost clean, efficient and environmentally friendly.