Steel and aluminium building products supplier and manufacturer Duro has supplied many hospitals and schools with steel windows and doors in support of the South African government’s development projects in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN), during the past year.
The most prominent devel- opments in which Duro has been involved include the Empangeni Hospital project, which is about 160 km north-east of Durban, and the Emmanus Hospital project, in the Ukhalhamba local muncipality, Duro chief sales and marketing officer John Lamb tells Engineering News.
He highlights that the company manufactured specific doorframes of 1.6 mm galvanised steel with nonstandard hinges to accommodate the wheeling of beds into the wards of both hospitals.
Lamb adds that Duro also fitted specific doorframes with nonstandard hinges, manufactured to suit overhead door closers and floor springs, to La Verna Hospital, in Ladysmith.
Further, he points out that the company has also supplied steel windows to various early-childhood development facilities and high schools in KZN.
“Umsilinga High School, in Pietermaritzburg, which accommodates about 400 children, was fitted with industrial galvanised windows, with burglar bars for extra safety,” Lamb high- lights, adding that two other high schools in Qumbu, namely Mkambeni and Lugonqozo, were also fitted with the same windows and burglar bars.
He says there are many advan- tages to using steel, which include lower maintenance, as it does not crack or bow, and being less expensive than reinforced concrete and more secure than wood or plastic.
Lamb adds that steel is a strong material, which is flexible, making it ideal for building houses in harsh and unfavourable conditions.
“All these factors make it one of the most durable and sustainable building materials available,” adds Lamb.
Moreover, he states that steel reduces construction companies’ carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions.
According to the World Steel Association’s (worldsteel’s) website, the steel industry has reduced its energy consumption by 50% for every ton of steel produced during the last 30 years.
According to worldsteel, steel has a long life span and, as a result, the contribution of modern steels in improving the energy efficiency of buildings, plants, machinery and transportation is greater than the emissions associated with the initial steel production.
Lamb notes that there is definitely a decline in terms of sales owing to the lack of construction activity taking place during the rainy months owing to the obvious constraints placed on construction sites
“We have also registered a slight decline in sales at the end of the South African government’s 2012/13 financial year, as monies for future projects are yet to be allocated,” he adds.
However, Lamb emphasises that Duro’s single-biggest commercial challenge relates to the allocation of its financial resources, which must be cor- rectly focused to generate the best return for the company.
“There are numerous oppor- tunities, but we need to be incredibly selective and focused to achieve our goals,” he stresses.
Additionally, Lamb says it is a challenge for the company to continually meet and exceed customer expectations in terms of service and quality.
“Consumers’ expectations regarding service and quality have become far higher than [in the past] and Duro, as a manufacturer, has to ensure that meeting this demand remains its priority, so it continues to be successful and sustainable,” Lamb stresses.
Equally challenging, he says, is training unskilled staff and retaining skilled staff members.
Retention has become a priority for the company, as Duro recognises that these skilled workers drive the business forward and ensure that it will be equipped to deliver on all its promises and commitments in terms of manufacturing high-quality products, says Lamb.
Consequently, the company established a dedicated training department at its head office in Alrode, in Gauteng, in January, which focuses entirely on training all staff members and educating the company’s customers on how to best use its products.
Lamb points out that Duro is also one of South Africa’s largest manufacturers of steel and aluminium products such as windows, doors and steel garage doors.
He adds that the company manufactures a range of shower doors and do-it-yourself products to complement its product offering.
“Duro is also a partner of alternative housing solutions manufacturer Vela, which services lower-income categories throughout Africa and hopes to be as successful in South Africa soon,” notes Lamb.