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Coreslab joins global mission to promote excellence in precast-concrete technology

Coreslab, a leading South African precast-concrete specialist, recently participated in the eighth edition of CSG Engineering’s Missione Tecnica in Italy. These technical missions are geared at imparting knowledge of best practice in precast-concrete technologies and promoting excellence in the field.

CSG Engineering always strives to ensure widespread participation in its technical missions, which attract representatives from leading prefabricators from all over the world.

Delegates of this year’s event spent a week visiting state-of-the-art Italian prefabricators, considered to be among the world leaders in the design and application of precast-concrete technology. This provided an opportunity to learn more about how these companies organise their production cycles; automate their manufacturing processes; and integrate the various components of the precast concrete value chain using state-of-the-art technology. Moreover, delegates had an opportunity to learn about the latest cutting-edge technologies for the production of high-quality precast-concrete elements and witness their performance in the field.

As part of the mission, delegates were also shown innovative structures that have been built using precast-concrete technologies in the country. Specific focus was on showcasing the innovative use of architectural prefabricated concrete. The exceptional thermal performance and acoustic properties of precast-concrete technologies and the important role that they have to play in eco-sustainability were also a major motivation of these site visits.

CSG Engineering is a world leader in precast-concrete technologies. The company provides engineering and consultancy services to global prefabricators. This capability spans assisting companies with the optimal layout of new precast-concrete factories; construction management; through to the study of new building methods that involve the use of prefabrication technology and improving business performance of these operations. The company also provides design and structural, as well as project management services to precast-concrete companies. Moreover, CSG Engineering is the developer of state-of-the-art Building Information Management software that has been designed specifically for the unique needs of the precast-concrete industry.

Hennie Meyer, Managing Director of Coreslab, attended the technical mission on behalf of this leading South African precast-concrete specialist in October 2022.

“We visited the operations of Nuova TesiSystem, Cestaro Gustavo, Truzzi and Qeurzoli, as well as Itinera, a large Italian construction company that has built many precast-concrete

structures. It was, therefore, a very informative mission, especially in terms of being able to compare our own processes to leading Italian manufacturers of precast-concrete technologies. These ranged from basic products, such as pipes, pavers and blocks, through to extremely sophisticated systems for large and complex property developments and civil-engineering infrastructure. It was very encouraging to note that as a country we do not lag far behind in terms of international best practice in the field. This is despite the preference for in-situ construction methods in South Africa, with the real potential of prefabrication yet to be harnessed in the country. In some areas, I believe that we are actually pacesetters in the field. A case in point is the extensive quality controls in our factories considering the lower skills levels of South Africa’s labour versus that of more developed economies,” Meyer says.

The technical mission also informed Coreslab’s research and development (R&D) programmes. For example, delegates visited various precast-concrete warehouses in the country at a time when Coreslab is refining its very own solution for this application. Precast concrete provides a more durable method of constructing warehouses. They, therefore, require less maintenance, lowering total operating costs for owners of these assets. Warehouses can also be constructed faster with precast-concrete technology. Some of the facilities that Meyer visited were built using beams with spans of up to 36m to reduce the number of columns inside the warehouse to free up space. The precast-concrete roof panels of these facilities are between 50mm and 60mm thick. Meanwhile, the wall panels have an exceptionally high finish quality with exposed aggregates of different colours. Coreslab’s R&D in the field is based on the company’s stellar work manufacturing structural systems on behalf of Corestruc.

A case in point is the unique precast-concrete elements that Coreslab manufactured for a hotel that Corestruc built in Sibasa. A standout feature of the structure is its façade consisting of about 800 m2 of wall panelling and coping with a very high finish quality. Coreslab also manufactured the precast concrete elements that Corestruc used to expand a hotel at OR Tambo International Airport. Prefabrication provided a faster and less intrusive method of upgrading the hotel which had to remain operational throughout the project. Precast concrete technology also proved to be a better method of undertaking the upgrades in this heavily built-up area. Coreslab was also appointed by Corestruc to manufacture the structural precast-concrete systems that it used to expand a civic centre in Limpopo.

The delegates also visited Eucentre, which undertakes earthquake and risk engineering. Meyer says that it was interesting to note that precast-concrete technology performed as well or even better than in-situ structures during earthquakes, demonstrating high elasticity and structural tolerance.

“I was particularly impressed with the ongoing R&D into the field of precast-concrete technology. At present, there seems to be no end in site in terms of the possibilities for precast-concrete technologies. I am proud that Coreslab is also at the forefront of this innovation and that this could be shared with the many other delegates who attended the technical mission,” Meyer concludes.