Durban-based nonwoven geotextiles manufacturer Fibertex South Africa has responded to the construction industry's request for a protection geotextile that can provide even higher performance when protecting the most important, vulnerable component of a lining system.
The latest upgrade at the company’s Hammarsdale factory will certainly meet that call, not only for the local market but international demand as well, says Fibertex South Africa CEO Clive Hitchcock.
Prompted by the global protection trend, the significant upgrade of the company’s nonwoven line will enhance its ability to produce products that were previously not available in South Africa, mitigating imports, as well as create valuable export opportunities for the country, he explains.
Subsequently, Fibertex South Africa expects some valuable opportunities to be unlocked across a range of markets.
The value of using high-performing protection geotextiles is being noted in the construction of lined landfills, tailings storage dams and other facilities where ground water contamination is a concern, owing to South Africa’s water scarcity, notes Hitchcock.
“There is, therefore, an increasing trend, in line with global standards and norms, towards the specification of virgin polypropylene geotextiles in these installations, as they offer superior chemical resistance than previously available products.”
In addition, there is a greater focus on puncture resistance and resistance to damage during installation, given the primary objective of these protection geotextiles.
These demands support ongoing growth of some specialised Fibertex protection geotextiles, despite overall geotextiles demand being subdued, which is in line with the state of South Africa’s construction industry.
However, with the large infrastructure projects coming up for tender, Fibertex South Africa hopes these projects will be awarded and started early in 2020.
As a global entity, Fibertex is involved with institutions and technical organisations that are at the cutting edge of construction technologies, specifically related to the use of geosynthetics in enhancing the built environment.
“Fibertex South Africa is, therefore, in the ideal position of having direct access to this information and know-how, and has had the privilege of being able to share the latest information and technology with South African engineers. As awareness grows, so does the realisation that these technically advanced products can save money, lives and reputation,” highlights Hitchcock.
Meanwhile, owing to the growing understanding of how high performing geosynthetics can enhance the engineering of infrastructure, Fibertex South Africa is experiencing solid growth in neighbouring countries and throughout Africa.
He notes growing demand from East Africa, which is driven by investments in infrastructure and improved knowledge on how to combine geosynthetic technologies with conventional building methods to increase performance, while reducing total project cost.
Although part of a multinational, Hitchcock emphasises that Fibertex South Africa is committed to providing African solutions for African problems. Therefore, the company has taken advantage of combining the latest technologies, with local industry experience to provide appropriate solutions.
“We are committed to local empowerment, and actively build competencies and capacities in our organisation to turn locally sourced raw materials into export opportunities.”
The polypropylene for the company’s high-performing geotextile range is locally produced, and then converted into fibre at Fibertex South Africa’s plant, while the fibre for its recycled GTX range called Betatex, is spun by local producers and sourced from various waste streams.
“The same fibre sources apply to our range of technical fabrics for the automotive, filtration, flooring, bedding and furniture industries. We also manufacture weldmesh gabions from locally drawn wire for a range of architectural and landscaping applications,” adds Hitchcock
He explains that the manufacturing processes of its products are essentially the same, differing only in terms of fibre recipes and machine settings, with the same quality systems employed across all products. “The ability to flexibly manage these individual components, gives Fibertex the capability to truly produce engineered fabrics, designed to meet specific needs.”