Finding a way forward for recycled building material

Robust debate is needed in the construction industry to map a way forward for the recycling of demolishment material on construction sites.

Continue reading View more

Laboratories costing concrete suppliers dearly

An urgent meeting of the technical committee of surface mining industry association, ASPASA, was convened to address inaccurate and procedurally incorrect laboratory tests that are costing the sand and aggregate industry hundreds of millions of Rands every year.

ASPASA is receiving ever-increasing complaints from its members with readymix concrete subsidiaries about stock returns and even litigations as a result of erroneous laboratory results conducted on concrete. In many of the instance’s tests used in evidence against members have been compiled by unaccredited laboratories or without a proper paper trail.

ASPASA director, Nico Pienaar, said the problem was being compounded by the closure of the Southern Africa Readymix Association (Sarma), which previously championed the fight against incorrect testing procedures, as well as tests from non-accredited laboratories. Whether the proliferation was as a result of laboratories taking chances due to the demise of Sarma, or simply a growing trend could not be established.

Crackdown coming

Pienaar added that laboratories need to understand the excessive costs experienced by suppliers when incorrect results have been submitted. He further added that ASPASA will have to step in to address the problem and take quick action. 

“ASPASA is on a mission to improve the quality of the products that its members produce and is prepared to crack down heavily on laboratories who provide inaccurate results on the products as supplied – especially those who we find to be repeat offenders,” said Pienaar. 

He added that they will be addressing non-compliance issues with SANAS and report any accredited laboratories that have consistently produced suspect results on the SANSA complaints webpage. 

“It is worth noting that the national standards surrounding the testing of concrete are clear and have been around for a long time. It is just that some laboratories seem to be less committed to the drive for quality testing by abiding by these standard requirements,” Pienaar said. 

According to Pienaar one of the challenges that ASPASA will face is holding commercial laboratories responsible if they submit incorrect results. This could result in entire consignments of concrete being rejected by a client.  

Costly exercise

Technical committee chairman, Barry Pearce explained that the onus then lies on the supplier to prove the laboratory’s result are wrong and this can be a difficult and lengthy process. In the meantime, the damage to the reputation of the company suffers and cash flows can become severely constrained particularly in the current marketplace that is highly competitive with very low margins for profit. In some instances, these may even lead to the closure of smaller businesses which is a bitter pill for the association to accept even more so when the results are proven to be incorrect.

In some instances, engineers may even become unwilling victims as these incorrect results influence their decision to accept or reject the constructed works.  In some cases, the use of inferior products has potentially deadly consequences. 

Pearce explained that this could result in engineers accepting incorrect results and the matter will have to be urgently addressed. He added that he found that engineers do not always have sufficient knowledge of what happens in the laboratories to evaluate the results.

“ASPASA is very concerned at the lack of accountability in some quarters of the industry where these material failures occur.  Those at fault look at every means possible to point a finger in someone else’s direction rather than look to themselves to assist in resolving the issue and admit to their own wrong doing,” said Pearce.

View more

Taking responsibility for concrete onsite

Surface mining industry association (ASPASA) says its members, who supply sand and aggregates, as well as readymix concrete to the construction industry, are alarmed at the lack of responsibility taken for concrete used on construction sites.

This is increasingly leading to disputes onsite where the blame is often incorrectly placed on the shoulders of the material suppliers. They then carry the burden of proving materials were delivered as specified and prescribed.

ASPASA director, Nico Pienaar, says many of the country’s sand and aggregate producers also operate readymix concrete plants on their sites and are calling for fairer practices when it comes to proportioning blame when things go wrong.

“During recent construction industry-wide discussions it was evident that those involved throughout the construction supply chain do not want to take responsibility and would prefer it stays with the concrete supplier – even despite various onsite factors that can affect the quality of concrete,” explained Pienaar. 

He further explained that there needs to be a clear cut-off at every stage where the responsibility changes from the supplier to the contractor and site engineers. 

“A good example of this is where readymix trucks wait for long periods of time to offload concrete with potentially significant effects on the quality, consistency, and workability of the concrete. In these events, the suppliers should be absolved of liability and it should fall squarely on the shoulders of the engineer in charge,” Pienaar added.

According to Pienaar to avoid future problems, members and suppliers in the industry take their time to carefully negotiate all the requirements of the supply agreement upfront. 

“When a contract is being negotiated there should be a meeting with the client, the engineer, the contractor, and the suppliers to set out the rules and to agree on the various issues,” Pienaar said. 

“Agreement needs to be reached on specifications, material requirements, testing methods onsite, as well as delivery and timeframes for the placement of the concrete. Laboratory procedures also need to be discussed and methods used internally, as well as by accredited laboratories that will test the quality of the materials. With these types of agreements in place, ASPASA hopes to see fewer disputes in future,” added Pienaar.

He concluded that the association is also taking a further, proactive approach to preventing disputes with the compilation of a site meeting guideline and process documents to be used by members when accepting supply contracts. These will be made available from the association when completed.

View more

Encouraging more women to enter the construction industry

Prior to the Covid-19 crisis, of the 1,339 million people employed by the South African construction industry. Out of those employed only 11% were female. However, representation in the construction industry has increased by 7% over the past decade. Similarly, in the sub-Saharan African transport industry, only 8% of employees are female – a number which is steadily increasing as the years go by, albeit slowly[iii]. Nevertheless, these are welcome changes.

Construction events key empowering young women

In 2021 the Vice President of dmg events, Devi Paulsen-Abbott, will be hosting the African Construction and Totally Concrete Expo as well as the Transport Evolution African Forum and Expo. She explained that these events their aim is to “close the gender gap” in the industry both locally and internationally. 

“Not only does diversity generate a bigger bottom line, but there are a multitude of other benefits including access to a variety of perspectives, increased productivity, improved performance as well as heightened company reputation,” Paulsen-Abbott said. 

She further explained that these events provide an opportunity for young women to see that there is a place for them in “traditionally masculine industries.”

More women in the construction sector

Chief Quantity Surveyor at the National Housing Corporation in Tanzania, Margaret Ezekiel commented that more women are entering this industry, especially in the informal sector. She stressed that it’s important for young girls to see women who succeed in these industries. 

“This is because when girls see that women can succeed within the industry; they realise that they can succeed too. These days, you can find engineering classes and construction sector classes with more women than previously,” Ezekiel said.

Chief Quantity Surveyor: Infrastructure Services – Education at the Gauteng Department of Infrastructure, Zanele Mabathoana agreed with Margaret Ezekiel. 

“If you look at women, we’re the majority of the population. The construction industry has been making spaces to be occupied by the population,” Mabathoana commented. 

Mabathoana added that industry events are crucial for engaging women as well as for disseminating information and networking. 

“A lot of information is shared at these events which are important for the industry at large. If women intend to be part of the industry, then they have to know what is happening within it,” Mabathoana said.

Both Ezekiel and Mabathoana are judges in the African Construction Awards. The Awards highlight the year-round pursuit of excellence that is driven by the passion of leading professionals in the industry. Categories include the Female Innovator of the Year Award and the Women in Construction Award

“We need to be allowing women to participate, beyond administrative and HR functions and highlight the opportunities that are available for everyone in the sector in the sense of true transformation,” Paulsen-Abbott concluded. 

View more

No excuses for damaging the environment

While the construction industry remains in the grips of a long-lasting downturn, worsened by Covid-19 in recent months, there remains no excuse for construction contractors or building material suppliers to excavate sand and aggregates illegally.

Surface mining industry association, ASPASA, has asked the public to be vigilant and to report suspicious excavation of sand and stone that is either being sold or used for construction purposes. Damage caused to land in this manner can render it unusable for future generations and may lead to erosion or contamination of waterways or other surrounding areas

ASPASA director, Nico Pienaar, emphasised that even while the economy is strained, it is not an excuse for the construction industry to neglect their responsibility towards the environment. 

“While the economic outlook for the industry is severely strained at present, there is no excuse for environmental negligence and adds that court rulings against directors of mining companies found to be responsible for polluting the environment in recent years should act as a warning to others to get their environmental-affairs in order,” said Pienaar. 

Facing jail

In certain instances, individuals and directors of companies have been found guilty of damaging the environment and faced substantial fines and in some instances prison sentences. The same applies to public sector employees, municipalities and state-owned enterprises who are not above the law.

Pienaar explained that ASPASA serves on numerous environmental boards and is an influential member of the Mineral Council of South Africa (MCSA). ASPASA has also enjoyed a working relationship with the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy. 

Pienaar added that emphasised that environmental damage has been taken very seriously and they continue to work with the MCSA, SA Police Services, Green Scorpions along with other government departments to identify transgressors. 

“Needless to say, we will not hesitate to escalate any violations through these authorities in addition to reporting such incidents to the South African Police Services,” Pienaar said. 

Legal suppliers

Pienaar further added that it is their goal to route reckless damage to the environment. He explained that this process began more than twenty years ago when they required members to comply with environmental legislation and internationally accepted environmental standards.  

“As a result, our members are audited every 18-months and will lose their membership if they do not rectify any transgressions within a stipulated time period should transgressions occur,” Pienaar explained.

He concluded that sand and aggregates should only ever be purchased from legal suppliers and encourages would-be customers to look out for ASPASA accreditation suppliers to rest-assured that they are dealing with an environmentally conscious company in future.

View more

Frost International

Frost International was established in the construction industry in 1970, initially in the ceiling and partition sub-contracting arena, before evolving into the Entrances and Security side of things. As a specialist contractor, Frost delivers a range of solutions to any project.

Frost International formed a partnership with Boon Edam in the early 90’s, when the first Boon Edam revolving door was installed by Frost International – a door that is still in operation today, and from here the partnership has grown from strength to strength. Boon Edam is a premium brand, recognised as a royal brand in Holland – an honour awarded by the Dutch royals themselves.

Further to the first-class range of revolving doors, we also offer the options of security doors, and pedestrian Speedlanes. The current best-seller, the Boon Edam Lifeline Speedlane, is the slimmest on the market – with a cabinet width barely in excess of 100mm.

Frost also offers the only South Africa designed, developed and manufactured Automatic sliding door operator – the FROST AUTOMATIC, which adds to our offering of non-contact activated entrance and security solutions. During these-times, we see a huge focus on non-contact automation, be it through facial recognition, wave-activation or motion sensors – a trend which started a few years ago, and is expected to carry into the future – a truly hygienic option.

Frost International also offers HUFCOR acoustic operable walls, which allow the user to split one big room into multiple rooms, all the while selecting their Sound Transferal Coefficient (STC) rating based on the application.

A latest edition to our product range is the option of High Speed/ Performance doors – suitable for factories, warehouses, pharmaceutical and food handling distribution centres.

Frost International pride ourselves on our service, and after-sales service through routine and preventative maintenance to get the longest life out of our premium range of products, and allowing for the most user-friendly experience for our clients.

View more