Solving Local Problems in International Quality
Our readers do not speak Hungarian. What does the name of the company mean, and how long has KÖMI been active?
– KÖMI is an acronym. It is composed of the initial letters of the Hungarian name of our line of business: an office of transport engineering. The company was set up by private individuals in 1996. The members then included strategic investors and professionals, which continues to be the case.
What propelled the foundation of the business into action?
– The establishment of KÖMI was motivated by a philosophy calling simultaneously for top quality engineering services, quality inspection and quality assurance. The vision of the company was to offer international solutions to local problems.
What specific features distinguish your company?
– Our company is a flat organisation, which allows us to swiftly recognise and respond to market changes.
Could you give us an example?
– Naturally, our core business upon foundation involved engineering consultancy for road construction. We have recognised the need for high quality and reliable services during project preparation and the follow-up. So we’ve diversified our activity to cover those segments as well. In recent years, we have observed signs of a future slow-down in road construction in Hungary and in the meantime a surge of railway construction in the European Union. We have managed to forge partnerships in that business area and at present railway projects generate a significant portion of our income.
Yet, we keep up being attentive and see a shift of emphasis to environmental projects (sewer construction, wastewater treatment, water retention, flood and drainage control, and habitat reconstruction), an area where we are trying to play a role.
So you refuse the principle of being “lean and mean”, and look upon diversification as a proper strategy?
– Regardless of economic theories, a constantly changing business affected by its environment cannot afford to have only a single foot on the ground. Some of our competitors have refused to adapt to changes and are now in deep trouble.
What would you list as the values of your business?
– I can summarise that in five words: reliability, innovation, preparedness, commitment and cooperation.
To elaborate a bit more: we have certificates to verify our reliability as our operations have been certified under ISO 9001:200, 14001:2007, and 18001:2005 audited by the international certifications firm e.com-Cert. We were among the first who developed procedure guidelines for the Engineer’s and the Contractor’s activity. We are proud to see that our customers look upon those as a standard and demand others to follow them.
We place heavy emphasis on obtaining state-of-the art knowledge. All of our associates are college or university graduates and are continuously upgrading their skills. Years passing without them participating in conferences and training, in addition to mandatory professional upgrading, are few and far between. A high percentage of our people speak several languages. Customer satisfaction is of great importance to us. Although most of our contracts have been awarded under public procurement, where it is essential to submit bids in line with the terms of reference, we are proud to have participated in restricted tendering, where the customer selects bidders on the basis of their track record of performance.
Who are your major customers?
– National Infrastructure Development Co. Ltd. is the host organisation for projects implemented in Hungary with EU support. We have also been awarded several contracts by the Municipality of Budapest and we are proud to list among our clients both of Hungary’s railway investment companies, namely: Győr–Sopron–Ebenfurti Vasút (GYSEV Raaberbahn) and Hungarian State Railways (MÁV). Both companies are state-owned. Our clientele also includes several local governments. We’ve worked for Nicholas O’Dwyer Consulting Engineers, an Irish engineering firm, Hungarian national parks, the consultants Ernst and Young, and private companies, such as the Lidl supermarket chain and Lagermax Lux, a logistics provider active in transporting cars.
What kinds of projects do you participate in Hungary at present?
– We participate as consultants in Hungary’s railway development program. We play a role in GYSEV Raaberbahn’s railway development projects covering a 120 km section of the railway line Sopron–Szombathely–Szentgotthárd (Western Hungary) with a budget of EUR 185 million. We coordinate the implementation works of six contractors in the areas of laying track, building OH lines, power supply, pitching bridges, and railway interlocking. We have successfully introduced software supported project management monitoring in this assignment. Besides this railway construction project, we also act as consultants for other works planned along the same line. We deliver quality assurance, audit plans and provide expertise to the evaluation of several studies.
KÖMI performs an assignment of larger order of magnitude at two locations along the railway lines operated by MÁV in Eastern Hungary: a 67 km section between Szajol and Püspökladány, and a 37 km section between Gyoma and Békéscsaba. The total budget of the two projects is EUR 780 million. Our role is the technical inspection of the construction project covering tracks, OH lines and interlocking. We provide technical inspection concerning the construction of transformer substations for traction along GYSEV and MÁV lines.
Our firm has wide-ranging experience in road construction projects too. We have participated in some ways in the construction or reconstruction of Hungary’s 9 numbered motorways. For instance, we were responsible for construction management (of about 70 km) on the Görbeháza–Nyíregyháza section of M3. We ensure some of the project management and technical supervision regarding the building of the section of M43 between chainages 18+400 and 34+600 (Szeged–Makó). We acted as supervisors of the land acquisition required for the section between chainages 13.7 and 113.8 of M5 motorway. We provided project organisation, monitoring and database management in English and German for the M6 motorway construction. For Formula 1 fans might be interesting our role in managing the redesign and reconstruction of the race tracks at Hungaroring.
We provide technical inspection for the construction and renewal of national public roads at countless locations in Hungary. Our operations cover more than the technical inspection of read and rail projects. We provide consulting for the preparation of statements by investors and construction contractors to help prove eligibility for tendering for road reconstruction works. KÖMI acts as an independent consultant, in partnership with Ernst & Young for several projects funded by the EU (Structural and Cohesion Fund). Our firm writes reports to the EU to help promote the proper utilisation of funds. We provided claim management services during the apron extension of Budapest Airport. We have prepared operation manuals for 23 mix plants to comply the new Hungarian asphalt mix plant standard.
Is there anything you are especially proud of?
– On two occasions, we have won various levels of the Tierney Clark Prize, a recognition of engineering excellence awarded by the Chamber of Hungarian Engineers and the Association of Consulting Engineers.•