Supporting industry associations adds value – CMA
To ensure the use of high-quality precast concrete products in the market, it is vital for professionals and manufacturers of products related to the built environment to realise the value of joining industry associations, particularly those that have the wellbeing of end-users and industry at heart, says newly appointed Concrete Manufacturers Association (CMA) GM Henry Cockcroft.
“Professionals must realise that they can approach industry associations for very valuable information regarding specifications, products and product innovation, and suppliers that supply product with consistent quality into the market.”
Using poor-quality precast concrete products can cause structural failure, financial loss and even death.
“Reputable producers can provide clients with the necessary evidence related to the production of quality products, and clients using contractors should insist on seeing evidence of materials compliance before accepting products for a project,” explains Cockcroft.
Developers, engineers and specifiers can limit legal liability by making sure of the quality of the product they are specifying and using.
End-users can rest assured that manufacturers across the country who implement a quality management system are more likely to supply a product with consistent quality.
Bearing a “quality-approved” certificate will also enhance their credibility.
The CMA would like to see increased cooperation between the professional sector involved in the built environment and the producers of precast concrete products.
The corporate sector should rely more on associations to ensure that they specify and use high-quality or certified products supplied by reputable manufacturers. Industry associations like the CMA are seen as a porthole to these manufacturers and suppliers.
The CMA provides assistance and guidance, through its members, regarding installation and specification training, therefore increasing the level of competence in the installation of precast concrete units. This will result in the completion of successful projects.
While a few individuals might consider association memberships as a grudge purchase, many others believe that there are several benefits to membership of well‑known and well-run associations. In fact, industry sector contractors, professionals and manufacturers that belong to industry associations are deemed more “serious” about their business.
“This is one of the major benefits in belonging to the CMA, with the CMA being the custodian of precast concrete in South Africa,” says Cockcroft.
Pan Mixers South Africa (PMSA) Group of Companies sales and marketing manager Quintin Booysen concurs. “As the leading manufacturer and supplier of a full range of concrete equipment in South Africa and the continent, PMSA has an obligation to industry as well as its clients to support the concrete manufacturing industry.”
The CMA is the best placed body within the industry to provide a one-stop shop for manufacturers and suppliers with regard to technical support, marketing and keeping a database of leading producers, as well as the latest news and daily activities in the industry, he adds.
He believes that it is an opportunity for companies to showcase what they are doing in the industry, as well as to clients, and compels producers and suppliers to manufacture to a certain standard, ensuring that a quality product is delivered to end-users.
“Institutions like the CMA are vital to ensure products are fit for purpose and that industry complies to international best practices and standards,” he emphasises.
Besides the ‘soft’ benefits of membership, which include being listed in the CMA’s quality magazine publication, Precast, and attendance at relevant workshops, the main benefit of membership is that end-users’ procurement of quality precast concrete products is ensured by dealing with CMA member companies.
“The CMA only allows membership from producers of precast concrete products that comply with strict standards set by the CMA and the industry. The CMA is represented on the workgroup that writes and reviews the specifications for precast concrete for the South African National Standard (SANS) and, as a result, member companies must have a quality management system in place that has been entrenched in the manufacturing process of its products,” explains Cockcroft.
It is easy to confirm whether a precast concrete product supplier is a member of the CMA or if the products bear the CMA Certification Services (CMACS) stamp of approval by simply looking for the stamp or searching for the company on the user-friendly CMA website, he adds.
“The CMA is a porthole, a basket of knowledge, a resource which people can use when sourcing information on where to procure the best precast concrete. Displaying a CMA logo provides peace of mind for end-users.”
The CMACS received South African National Accreditation Services (SANAS) accreditation in 2016 as an accredited certification body for the certification of a range of precast concrete products.
The SANAS certification puts CMACS at the forefront of precast certification and ensures that specifiers and engineers can stipulate products bearing the CMACS mark of approval with the utmost confidence. Products bearing this mark are certified to comply with requirements prescribed by the relevant SANS code.
CMACS product certification is valid for three years. The process of product certification is subjected to an initial audit process, after which the product is tested and then issued with the certificate in terms of the agreement with SANAS. The CMACS certification carries the same weight as the South African Bureau of Standards certification and the process is also the same. Certification through CMACS is affordable and can be issued in four to six weeks, should the producer meet the necessary qualifications.
Meanwhile, Cockcroft laments the state of the economy, as well as upheaval in South Africa’s political system, as the main challenges for the concrete industry today.
“South Africa is holding back on infrastructure development, and that hits our big producers hard. While there is still a significant amount of large residential development taking place, the country needs large-scale infrastructure development to create the jobs that government is so desperately seeking,” he notes.
Cockcroft acknowledges that job creation is a difficult subject to discuss. The CMA attended the official Jobs Summit 2018, in October, which successfully identified the key areas and interventions needed to bolster local job creation but, he says, it is imperative that there is demand in the market for products, which will make it much easier to create these jobs.
The CMA is also involved in Operation Phakisa, an initiative of the South African government that aims to implement priority programmes better, faster and more effectively.
When asked about the progress of the concrete industry’s consolidation talks – which are aimed at consolidating the various concrete, cement and readymix industry associations to collaborate as a single entity – Cockcroft reveals that talks have stalled and that the draft agreement was referred back to the major stakeholders so that an external facilitator can facilitate the consolidation talks.
It is hoped that the talks will resume soon, as it is important that all professional bodies in the construction sector work together for the greater good of the industry.
“Companies should support professional bodies that act in the interest of the industry to ensure that end-users are protected,” concludes Cockcroft.