Steely resolve, innovation continue despite lockdown

31st July 2020 By: Darren Parker

Steely resolve, innovation continue despite lockdown

MULTIPLE USES Light-steel-frame buildings can be repurposed, modified or moved to a new location with relative ease

Although production came to a halt over the past two months, light-steel-frame building (LSFB) materials supplier Etex South Africa – formerly known as Marley Building Systems – continued planning and innovating throughout the Covid-19 lockdown so that it would be well positioned to take advantage of any opportunities on the horizon.

“Much work has been done by the teams at Etex South Africa over the past two months to take advantage of any opportunities for material supply,” says Etex South Africa metals product manager Garry Powell.

He explains that, similar to most companies in the construction sector, Etex South Africa essentially had two months during the various levels of lockdown without any revenue.

“Although the lockdown restrictions have been eased, we don’t expect the next few months to be easy either because various restrictions still remain – such as limitations on the number of personnel allowed on site.”

He says Etex South Africa has endeavoured to ensure that it can supply its products as quickly and efficiently as possible. The company is also ensuring that the team remains keenly aware of new project opportunities while maintaining relationships with partners to secure those opportunities.

Opportunities that Etex South Africa is pursuing – in collaboration with key partners – include emergency health infrastructure additions.

“During the lockdown, we have remained active in terms of not only planning but also design. We’ve used the time to plan and readjust our strategic objectives to align with the needs of the healthcare sector,” says Etex South Africa technical services and new business manager Sibusiso Mthembu.

The main reason for the national lockdown, according to President Cyril Ramaphosa’s national address in March, was to “flatten the curve” enough to give government a chance to ensure that its health infrastructure and operational capability was in place to cope with the expected spike in Covid-19 infections in the coming months.

As such, several hospital extensions were earmarked for alternative construction by the Department of Health, in conjunction with the Department of Infrastructure and Development.

Mthembu explains that all these projects have been earmarked for alternative construction – which includes the possibility of LSFB – so that they might be erected swiftly.

Moreover, Mthembu says the company has designed three light-steel-frame prototype structures for various purposes, such as quarantine and testing, which can be rolled out as turnkey solutions throughout the country.

“One of the main advantages of LSFB is that it can be repurposed, modified or moved to a new location with relative ease. It’s a very adaptable building system,” adds Powell.

For example, one of the units could be used as a Covid-19 testing station during the current crisis, and thereafter be moved and repurposed for use as a school classroom or a clinic.

Powell and Mthembu applaud government for strongly considering LSFB solutions for these and other similar projects – such as emergency housing – because of the quality, flexibility, longevity and energy efficiency of the structures.