The Southern Africa Readymix Association (Sarma), The Concrete Institute (TCI), the Concrete Society of Southern Africa (CSSA) and the Concrete Manufacturers Association (CMA) are looking forward to hosting more than 300 delegates at this year’s The Concrete Conference (TCC), which will take place on August 1 and 2 at the Birchwood Hotel & OR Tambo Conference Centre, in Boksburg.
Themed ‘The Future is Concrete’, the event is sponsored by construction materials companies AfriSam, Chryso, PPC, Sephaku Cement and KonkreteGlobal.
Owing to the high costs of organising an event of such magnitude, Sarma director and TCC organiser Johan van Wyk tells Engineering News that the conference will be held biennially as from 2020. He says TCI, CMA, CSSA and Sarma are discussing the finalisation of the consolidation process to form one industry organi- sation next year.
“The consolidation of all industry-related associations will help us to uplift the industry, capitalise on our resources and set high standards in advocating for quality products and good governance to the benefit of all our members.
“We know that the industry needs this kind of consolidation from us, it will be better for them to have a one-stop shop.”
He says all related associations still have to consult and get approval from their individual and company members, as well as funding partners, about the proposed consolidation plan.
Van Wyk mentions that, in the market size survey conducted by Sarma last year, 109 companies owned about 350 readymix plants in South Africa, of which 242 were Sarma members. “We are conducting this year’s market size survey and are expecting it to be released this month.”
He notes that Sarma members have more advantages than nonmembers because they are held accountable to a high-quality standard in terms of the concrete they produce.
“Our members get audited every year, where we assess safety, health, road transport, environment and quality, as well as legal compliance. The reason we do this is because we defend good concrete and we know some readymix companies produce substandard concrete. We want clients to know that Sarma members are reputable companies that produce quality products.”
If a member does not adhere to Sarma standards, clients can lodge a complaint with the association.
“If we receive a complaint, the association investigates and, if needs be, we mediate on behalf of both parties to avoid the cost of litigation. If the investigation establishes that the Sarma member was at fault, the Sarma insurance scheme, through its product liability cover, can pay out the cost or reconstruct the project.”
He says, in a case where a member is not insured by the scheme, the association will encourage the member to pay the costs.
Van Wyk explains that concrete can fail on strength, appearance or application, where a particular type of concrete can be used in the wrong application. It is the responsibility of the engineer to specify the right concrete, and a contractor must also apply it accordingly, he adds.
He is concerned about the volume of concrete currently produced in the country, which he says is too low, owing to slow growth (currently under 1%) in the construction industry. “The funding for infrastructure development is available, but the government does not know how to use it.”
However, Van Wyk adds that reputable readymix companies – particularly Sarma members – are continuing to grow in this environment.
He says delegates attending this year’s TCC, will witness concrete producer Basilisk launching its self-healing concrete, the first of its kind in South Africa, while KonkreteGlobal will demonstrate its robotic, nonentry readymix truck cleaning system and MAN Automotive will run a competition and give away a surprise prize for readymix concrete operators to the value of R150 000.
He says Netherlands’ Delft University of Technology professor Henk Jonkers will give a presentation about self-healing concrete technology, which is his invention and has had success globally.
Van Wyk says the first day of the conference will culminate in a gala dinner, where Sarma will present readymix awards sponsored by Liebherr. The awards consist of the categories for the best plant, best fleet, best health and safety operator, as well as best quality operator. There will also be a special readymix plant recognition award.
“A panel of auditors adjudicate the awards. They looked at 720 point audits done at plants during the year under review, and a combination of many factors such as the working environment and clean- liness of the plant and fleet.”
AfriSam won the awards for best plant and best fleet for the Gauteng region, while cement producer NPC won the best-quality representative award in 2017.