Amid continuous technological development, equipment must keep up with global trends, says earthworks company ICON Group MD Wayne Neary.
Although “unusual for the construction industry”, ICON Group has embraced technology and effectively uses drones, global positioning systems and machine control systems to track project progress and productivity.
While concepts such as robotics are fairly new for earthmoving companies, there is a lot of traction in that regard, he adds.
“This helps us to keep tighter control over our costs and provide better feedback for clients and professional teams. It is an adapt-or-die situation, as all those aspects feed through the system,” says Neary.
The company provides bulk earthworks, demolitions and other related civil engineering and construction services that are required to get commercial, industrial or mining sites to a state of build readiness.
With tightening global emission standards, the company’s equipment complies with European emission standards – a policy that ICON Group follows in terms of buying new equipment, he notes.
“Even when we hire third-party equipment, one of our conditions is that it is the latest equipment, with low fuel consumption as a big driver. We also have other environmental concerns that we work towards addressing, with a full-time, in-house health, safety and environmental manager who handles that aspect for us. This was not as common about ten years ago; however, we do not want to cause any damage that we can avoid,” he tells Engineering News.
Consequently, as part of its environmental efforts, ICON Group relocates trees that are in the way of construction at its own expense with the assistance of an expert tree relocator. The company is also very aware of minimising its carbon footprint through on-site recycling by crushing rock that is then reused on the same job.
Most recently, the ICON Group’s newly purchased hydraulic hammers and crushers were deployed on the greenfield Sunderland Ridge Project in Centurion, Gauteng, for developers Falcon Forest Trading in association with real estate agency API Property Group. This greenfield industrial development project is being developed to accommodate warehousing and factory premises.
The rocky conditions typical of dolomitic areas were a challenge for the company particularly owing to the large level variations, resulting in peaks and valleys in the trench excavations.
The dolomitic and rocky ground conditions required a large amount of rock breaking and crushing which was accomplished by making use of this equipment. The piping material used is also specific to the conditions and the combination of spigot and socket stormwater pipes with high-density polyethylene for all other pipes ensures longevity of the services in such dolomitic conditions.
Neary stated in a press release that ICON Group also did not have to import some of the layer works because of this positive effect.
“We are proud of our equipment range and our impact rollers are probably the flagship of our range. We hire and contract these to clients and we also employ the equipment on our own projects. It enables us to yield cost savings for clients and it gives us a competitive edge that allows us to do work at a reduced rate while remaining relevant in this tough market,” says Neary.
Further, the company is working on several other projects, such as the Helderfontein development, in Midrand, Gauteng, where it has been contracted to supply infrastructure, including the main outfall sewer for the developer.
While the labour laws in South Africa are putting pressure on the sector amid tough economic conditions, Neary states that people are the most important aspects of the business and having the right team is crucial to the company’s success.