SAFCO's activities can be split into two divisions – Geotechnical Services and Geotechnical Contracting. As part of the Geotechnical Services, the site investigation forms our main activity. In terms of the equipment and facilities that we utilize for the Soil Investigations, we have specialized Rigs that are used to explore the ground and take samples at various depths in both land and marine environments. These samples are then taken to our Independent Lab for testing. Based on that, the team develops a report outlining the suitability for different buildings, and where the situation may need to be remedied. When SAFCO first started out, the original Rigs were manufactured in the US. “Now, we have 69 Rigs and we assemble most of these ourselves. We have a team of Mechanics and Welders that are basically assembling the machines. All of these machines are Truck-mounted (Mercedes) – this is for the site investigation work.
On-site Quality Control and Material Testing also forms part of SAFCO's Geotechnical Services Division. “SAFCO acts as a Third Party Testing Laboratory, which, using the labs that we have in our Offices, or actually constructing a new Laboratory for an independent project.” Over the years, the number of Technicians working and testing materials in SAFCO's laboratories has grown to about 400 today – almost have of our workforce.
We have sixteen labs – based at our main offices – and we have eight mini-labs in the follow-up offices. On top of that, we have a mobile lab that is used on various large projects – project sites where there are no permanent lab facilities available, we create the lab there for the project, SAFCO's lab equipment is bought in from Italy, the UK, and the US.
We have about 4 groups of surveyors – a group basically comprising the Surveyors and a number of Assistants – located at the Jeddah, Riyadh and Al Khobar offices, although they operate across the entire Kingdom.
Another service entails testing the structural integrity of concrete structures. Concrete is not 'ever-enduring' – it needs to be tested regularly. Our company therefore carries out Structural Analysis to address this concern, assessing the condition of concrete in all types of structures.
Another field within SAFCO is called 'Laboratory Services', which is involved in the testing and calibrating of all kinds of machines – this is both for our offices and for the offices of other companies as well, the last area of Geotechnical Consulting in which SAFCO participates. “Geophysical surveys – this is an economic way of covering large areas in investigations – getting a clear picture of what is going on under the surface, but without the need for intrusive, underground testing activities.”
The second major division of the Company, Geotechnical Contracting, is offered only at the Jeddah, Makkah, Madinah and Al Khobar Offices. These Services include Shoring and Dewatering, Sheet Piling, Piling and Micro-piling; we also do Ground Anchors and Rock Bolting. In the past ten years, one of the services that have really taken off is the grouting services that we offer. We also do all types of earthwork. As you would expect, contracting activities such as these can require more manpower, and this extra labor capacity is facilitated by leasing in labor – depending upon the size of the project.
SAFCO's biggest customer is the Saudi Bin Laden Group (SBG) – other major clients include Messrs. El Seif, and more recently, Messrs. El Arab. We also have some consultants as clients – firms such as Messrs. Khatib and Al Alami, Dar Al-Handasah and Saud Consult. Other clients include Messrs. CDE, Emaar, Amias, and some government ministries in Saudi Arabia. In total, we have more than 10,000 clients and we continue to have new companies requiring our services. Indeed, the company has thus far tallied up in excess of 105,000 completed projects, in all fields. These differ in size, of course – from a walk-in client with a concrete cube that he wants to test, to a huge project that we could be involved with for three years. In fact, one of our strengths is that we are actually able to deal with projects of all shapes and sizes – we have to, in our field. Our role is at the beginning of every project – and it is crucial for every project.
To outline some of the projects in which SAFCO has been involved over the past few years, in Makkah, we have worked on two of the major projects – the Jamarat Project in Mena Makkah Al Mukarramah, and in Jabel Al-Kaba development. In Jeddah, we have worked on King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz International Airport on the Lamar Towers; and we are the main geotechnical contractor for Messrs. Emaar in the newly established King Abdullah Economic City in the north of Jeddah.
In Riyadh, we are working on numerous large projects including the Princess Noura University and the King Abdullah Financial District. In the Eastern Province, we have worked on many tunnel projects and we are involved in the Kayan Petrochemical Project in Jubail. So, these are the major projects that we have worked on in the past few years – we have obviously done a great deal of medium and smaller scale projects in addi-tion to these.