As part of its continuous drive to improve on its solutions offerings, diversified construction materials company AfriSam is developing multiple new solutions to provide more environment-friendly and cost-effective products for clients.
Cost effectiveness is particularly important, considering that the South African construction industry remains under pressure and is in a state of accelerated decline.
Consumers can expect at least two new offerings by the end of this year.
The first of the new solutions, forming part of AfriSam’s construction materials segment, will result in the company developing a manufactured sand, AfriSam readymix GM Amit Dawneerangen tells Engineering News.
“This is on the back of natural sands – such as plaster and river sands – becoming a very scarce resource while losing its consistency and quality over time.”
This declining resource is of particular concern for the production of concrete, which uses natural materials.
With the sand being processed in a certain way, AfriSam intends to manufacture the solution so that its performance is the same as that of natural sand, thereby enabling the company to use fewer natural materials while reusing waste materials.
Currently, natural sand accounts for 20% to 30% of the sand component of a concrete mix and AfriSam’s intention is to replace this completely with the new sand once the solution is in operation. By replacing the natural sands in a mix, Dawneerangen explains that the mix itself has a lower carbon footprint and will result in improved durability.
Another offering in the pipeline is the improvements on AfriSam’s readymix eco-range to increase the amount of supplementary cementitious materials (SCMs) that the company uses.
Despite the perception that environment-friendly products are cheaper, Dawneerangen says this is not the case, and suggests that one should rather think about the benefits of such products in terms of durability, sustainability and the environment.
In spite of this perception, AfriSam has continued to ensure the consistency and quality of its products through sustainable and environment-friendly operations, which entails the recycling and reusing of all water on site, he says.
For example, the recycling pits at the company’s readymix plants use filter-like technology to separate solid materials from water once a truck has returned to site and discharged its leftover load into a settling pit. Where possible, materials, mainly comprising sand and stone, from the settling pit are then reused in the concrete mixing process. In other instances, the waste material is recycled at AfriSam’s aggregate operations.
The Carbon Tax, which came into effect in June, has had a direct impact on the price of construction materials.
Dawneerangen says the tax has particularly influenced AfriSam’s readymix division in terms of the cost of cement, considering that companies are charged a higher cost for cement manufacturing, which is highly carbon dioxide intensive. In turn, this influences the production costs for one cubic metre of concrete.
The different brands in AfriSam’s cement product range contain varying amounts of clinker, which is the most energy-consuming element of cement. This means that the carbon footprints of the brands differ from each other.
However, AfriSam, which has estimated the impact of the Carbon Tax on the prices of the range of cement and readymix concrete products to range between a 1% and 3% hike, has informed clients of the price increases.
In taking a transparent and responsible approach to the new tax, AfriSam is showing clients, via their quotations and invoices, the amount of carbon tax payable on each specific bag of cement and in the case of readymix for every cubic metre of concrete.
This means that customers can still see the base price of what the company is charging for the product.
The idea is to incentivise clients to make more environmentally responsibly choices, Dawneerangen says, adding that AfriSam’s “drive is to use as little cement as possible in its mixes while maintaining quality, durability and compliance”.
He explains that a concrete product with more Portland cement will be more expensive to buy, compared with an environment-friendly concrete product.
AfriSam’s ecofriendly range uses SCMs comprising waste products, such as slagment and fly ash, with cementitious properties. Therefore, a portion of the Portland cement component can be replaced with a portion of the SCMs without sacrificing the quality of the product, he adds.
According to Dawneerangen, test results have shown that concrete durability is enhanced when using these SCMs.
Further, AfriSam’s pollution abatement technology includes adequate silo filter technology, as well as sprinkler suppression systems to help control dust.
The silo filters ensure that there are no overflows when cement is pumped into silos, which could result in dust settling over the surrounding environment, while the sprinkler suppression system allows for concrete producers – such as AfriSam – to suppress dust when tippers are offloaded on site.
“That’s really what our main issue at a readymix site is, and we focus on that by having the adequate filtration and dust suppression systems in place,” Dawneerangen comments.
Meanwhile, as testament to AfriSam’s technical capabilities, reliability and the scale to which products are produced, the company supplied construction materials to 15 of the projects of the 31 finalists of the 2019 iteration of the Fulton Awards.
The ceremony was held at the Champagne Sports Resort, in KwaZulu-Natal, in June.
The awards recognise and honour excellence and innovation in the design and use of concrete.
“That’s what sets us apart from our competitors – creating customised solutions to meet the very difficult requirements for these types of projects,” Dawneerangen concludes.