The same mistakes are continuously being repeated on construction sites as a result of people not understanding the fundamental concepts of concrete technology, says the School of Concrete Technology (SCT), which is facilitated by concrete industry technical services provider The Concrete Institute (TCI).
SCT lecturer John Roxburgh tells Engineering News that the school helps dispel industry misconceptions and concrete techno- logy myths, which results in flawed concrete that requires costly remedial action at a later stage.
Some of these misconceptions include the notion that adding more stone to concrete makes the concrete stronger, that adding salt to the concrete makes it waterproof, and that to make concrete more durable, one simply needs to add more cement.
Roxburgh notes that several of these myths – and the truths or falsehoods behind them – will differ substantially depending on the situation. He says, while some may be partially true, the SCT courses are designed to debunk these concrete myths and provide a platform for the correct teaching of concrete production.
Roxburgh further emphasises that, considering these types of misconceptions, formal concrete education is essential. By understanding the ‘why’ – and the basic scientific principles behind concrete manufacturing – concrete producers will not only do a better job, but will also save costs and ensure that they produce top-quality concrete the first time.
“A qualification in concrete technology will open doors in many different fields of employment at a critical time in South Africa’s infrastructural development,” he says, adding that an SCT certificate is instantly recognised and highly regarded in the industry.
Roxburgh believes the need for skills upliftment in the construction industry has never been more vital, as South Africa prepares for the at times delayed and much anticipated roll-out of tenders for the Presidential Infrastructure Coordinating Commision’s strategic infrastructure projects (Sips) in 2015.
These 18 Sips, which comprise government’s National Infrastructure Plan, adopted in 2012, aim to transform South Africa’s economic landscape, while simultaneously providing a sufficient number of new jobs and strengthening the delivery of basic services. In 2013, then Minister of Finanace Pravin Gordhan announced that, over the three years from 2013 to 2015, government had set itself the task of investing R827-billion in building new and upgrading existing infrastructure. It is hoped that this investment in the construction of ports, roads, railway systems, electricity plants, hospitals, schools and dams will contribute to faster economic growth.
He explains that, at SCT, the correct concepts of concrete manufacturing are taught step by step. Further, anybody can attend a course at the school to progress their studies under the guidance of lecturers who are experts in the field. These courses are also backed up by practical demonstrations in TCI’s laboratory.
“There is massive scope for work opportunities in the construction industry, as well as in the following industries: admixtures, ready-mix, cement producers, sealants, floor covering and more,” notes Roxburgh, adding that SCT has continually adapted and evolved to meet South African concrete requirements.
“Moreover, as lecturers at the school do duty on the telephonic technical advisory desk, we have a very good feel for what is going wrong on construction sites,” he concludes.