THE FAT LADY HAS YET TO SING

It’s been a waiting game, these past few months, and the opera ain’t over yet. Most of the waiting has been for results that would largely be out of our control, both as individuals and as industries that rely on positive conditions in our economic environment so we can do our best work.

First we waited for the national and provincial elections, anticipated with great apprehension against a background of nine years of poor governance and collapsing infrastructure. Our hope was that when the country voted, it would choose to back regeneration. And in a way, many people that voted the ruling party back into power, did decide to support what they believed would be a changed, recharged, repentant environment under new leadership.

John Matthews, President, Master Builders South Africa

Whether that decision, albeit tentative, considering the lower percentages both in voting numbers and margins, will be rewarded with prompt, real, valuable change, remains to be seen. So we wait some more.

As responsible South Africans with the interests of our country paramount in our minds, most of us would be satisfied with an assurance of integrity and competence in the day-to-day business of the country. Most of us would be happy if South Africa was again seen by the foreign community as a place where investment was safe, where land could be bought without fear of loss, and immigrants could find a new haven, where their skills would be valued.

But most of all we crave a time when our citizens at all economic levels receive a fair deal in line with their efforts and entitlement. A time when hard work and acquired skills will result in real rewards and due respect.

This might sound idyllic - but South Africa is one of the countries of the world where such time-honoured ambitions are achievable. We have come through huge changes already, proving that willingness exists. That this odyssey reached a stumbling block was not surprising. In all societies, there will be factions whose goals are at odds with the grand plan for collective harmony. The real strength of a country’s backbone lies in its ability to recognise disruptive forces and mitigate their negative effect.

In looking for motivation in what seemed very dark times in the most recent past, I listened out for a voice of reason, with a positive message for our dilemma. I didn’t find it among the plethora of political analysts and forecasters, but in fact in the heart of media – itself now under siege from many quarters that would for particular reasons want to cause harm to journalists.

On May 14, Branko Brkic, founder, publisher and editor of The Daily Maverick, one of South Africa’s most reliable news and opinion platforms, wrote that the internal political divisions may soon slip into our daily lives and into the streets. He said South Africa was now a brutally divided country and its ruling party even more so and there would be no stability until this struggle had a measurable, clear outcome.

“If we are to stand a chance of making it to the other side, we must redefine the very idea of responsible citizenry and our duties to prevent another lost decade, or even a lost generation,” he wrote.

His words struck a chord. He was saying that the fate of South Africa lies in the hands of its citizenry and not in political figures. The unity of the country lies in alliances forged with mutual understanding between thoughtful individuals – in homes and business, on the streets and in the communities, not in fiery political rhetoric and rallies that stir up people’s negative responses.

I think he’s right. But still we wait.

John

Celebrating 40 Years Of Commitment

Celebrating 40 Years Of Commitment

Quality and technical excellence has been on the forefront for Terraforce since 1979.

The well-known Cape Town based pre-cast concrete manufacturer, specialising in modular hollow-core concrete blocks, has maintained a strong foothold in the South African concrete retaining wall market.

A Terraforce project in Swaziland designed using the Terrasafe software

2019 marks the companies 40th anniversary of being engaged in the earth retaining and erosion control industry. Initially as a supplier and installer of wire mesh gabions, Terraforce soon switched to the more sustainable concrete block method of their own design that was pioneered in 1984. Proven as a solid choice, and with only one competitor in this sector situated in Europe, their business has grown steadily and is now represented by dedicated licensees on all continents around the world.

Seating area in Qatar with lighting set into the 4x4 step blocks at regular intervals

Terraforce has managed to establish production in Canada, Australia, Spain, India, Algeria, Morocco, Nigeria, Swaziland, Lesotho, Ghana, United Kingdom, Namibia and United Arab Emirates. Their product presents one of the most energy efficient segmental retaining wall systems.

The blocks require low hardware input for manufacture, low transport costs and low inventory requirements at sales outlets. Being hollow, yet strong enough, they require less concrete to do the job when compared to solid block systems. All Terraforce earth retaining systems are plantable, and if irrigation and maintenance is set up properly an installed wall can be completely covered in vegetation.

From the beginning Terraforce knew that robust research, testing, and design guidelines were indispensable, not only as a service to their customers, but also to keep the free-riders that can and do pop up at bay. Over the years several laboratory tests (crushing resistance, inter-block sliding resistance, block-geogrid connectivity tests and block-geogrid shear resistance), three design manuals and a wealth of supplementary information were conducted and published.

Says Holger Rust, Founder and Member, Terraforce: “In 2004 our first design software was launched, and soon many of our clients requested the introduction of a design service. Subsequently Terrasafe (a professional design service for exclusively for Terraforce walls) was launched in 2011 and in 2018 we launched a state-of-the-art design software, Maxiwall – another design tool for experienced professionals.

Terracrete hard lawn paver that is fully permeable at a hospital parking
lot

Currently we are completing a comprehensive design course for gravity and composite retaining walls, in compliance with SANS 207 - based largely on BS 8006. This necessitated the verification of some of the findings of the aforementioned tests conducted in 1991 and 1995 (in South Africa and Canada).

Slope stabilisation with Terrafix, a versatile and plantable erosion control
block

To achieve this, we commissioned Curtin University in Perth, Australia, under the guidance of Johan Joubert of Wave International, to conduct shear strength tests between closed-face Terraforce blocks and geo-grids in accordance with ASTM-D6916-18, which is a performance test based on the strength between segmental concrete units (with and without geosynthetic reinforcement) used in design of reinforced soil retaining walls. The report conclusively re-confirmed shear strength between the blocks and geo-grid material.

Going forward, we plan to unfailingly re-affirm our position as an ethical business by practicing fair competition, truthful representation and honest advertising. Above all, we will continue developing our knowledge base and skill to the highest level of excellence. Considering this commitment, we are also currently looking into achieving a green certification from a reputable authority.”

Shear strength test on a Terraforce block in progress at Curtin University, Australia

For more information
Terraforce
Tel: 021 461 4939
info@terraforce.com
web: www.terraforce.com

Environmentally Eco Friendly Readymixes Are Gaining Traction

Environmentally Eco Friendly Readymixes Are Gaining Traction

AfriSam, as part of its efforts to conserve the environment, perfected the art of producing composite cements using additives as partial replacement for cement.

AfriSam uses sustainably sourced materials coupled with environmentally friendly manufacturing processes

While Portland cement served industry for well over a century it has been superseded by composite cements. Using sustainably sourced materials coupled with more environmentally friendly manufacturing processes, these are blends of high performance cement with carbon neutral mineral components designed to achieve excellent cementitious properties.

Depending on the compressive strength, the carbon footprint is reduced by between 46% to 51% when compared to typical industry cement. An example of this is the AfriSam Eco Readymix brands – Starmix, Foundation Mix and Retainer Mix – which were developed to suit particular construction sector applications.

The performance of the Eco Readymix concretes is far superior to concrete made from pure cements. AfriSam can produce ultra-high performance Eco Readymix concretes with compressive strengths of above 70 MPa.”

AfriSam, as part of its efforts to conserve the environment, perfected the art of producing composite cements using additives as partial replacement for cement. Not only does this practice of recycling products from other industries minimise harm to the environment, these additives also enhance the performance of cement and offer advantages over ordinary Portland cement.

The additives include limestone, fly ash (a by-product of coal fired power stations) and ground granulated blast furnace slag from the steel industry. These products behave like pure cements in the presence of cement of lime.

AfriSam perfected the art of producing composite cements using additives as partial replacement for cement

Significantly despite the low carbon footprint, the performance of the Eco Readymix concretes is far superior to concrete made from pure cements. AfriSam can produce ultra-high performance Eco Readymix concretes with compressive strengths of above 70 MPa.

Years of research and development in cement products and in particular C-Tech technology has given several distinct advantages overs pure cements including improved workability, reduce heat of hydration, reduced susceptibility to chemical attack and increased erosion resistance. The resultant concretes are less permeable and more resistant to corrosion. They also continue to gain strength over time.

Nelson Mandela University’s Riaan Huiskens wins Corobrik Architectural Student of the Year Award

Nelson Mandela University’s Riaan Huiskens wins Corobrik Architectural Student of the Year Award

Riaan Huiskens from the Nelson Mandela University is the 32nd winner of the Corobrik Architectural Student Award. He received his award at a ceremony in Johannesburg on Tuesday 7 May 2019. Riaan’s thesis is entitled ‘The design of a 3D printing facility in Central Port Elizabeth.”

The architects of the future will be the pathfinders who use the sophisticated technologies of the future to tackle the challenges of today whilst addressing both the learnings and the mistakes of the past, CEO of Corobrik, Mr Dirk Meyer, told key stakeholders in the world of academia, architecture and construction.

Speaking at the 32nd Corobrik Architectural Student of the Year Award at the Maslow Hotel in Sandton, Johannesburg, he said this applied to both this year’s winner – Riaan Huiskens from the Nelson Mandela University (NMU) – and the seven regional finalists whose work showcased the high calibre of young professionals that were entering this respected profession in South Africa.

During 2018, eight regional finalists from universities across the country were recognised and put forward to compete for a national title and a prize of R70 000 at the Corobrik Architectural Student of the Year Awards.

CEO of Corobrik, Dirk Meyer

Huiskens’ thesis, entitled The design of a 3D printing facility in Central, Port Elizabeth, explores how architecture is moving towards a paradigm shift with the development and incorporation of digital fabrication technology. This is extended into the discussion of recycling existing infrastructure and ties together both the heritage and ecological discourse and recognises the significance of historical urban elements and the finite quality of heritage resources within the city.

A historical building used as a host for the design of a 3D printing facility invites a dialogue between the architecture of the old and the expression of the new. The Premier Mill Building is identified as a historical urban artefact and the programme complements the historical background of the building, which was a granary. The primary architectural exploration focuses on the possibilities offered by 3D printing in the making and expression of architecture. The nature of the facility organises function before sign. Meaning the initial architecture lies in the systematic operations of the facility as a place of digital fabrication. Therefore, it focuses on successfully incorporating existing infrastructure as functioning components to the system. Secondly, the building is a sign of its function, a visual opportunity for a new architecture to reflect the nature of the facility,” he explains.

Andrew Palframan, head of the Department of Architecture at NMU, believes that this thesis addresses a very relevant topic as we head into the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

While increasingly mechanised and technologically advanced, the building process has essentially not changed for millennia. Riaan’s thesis creatively explores the potential for a fundamentally new way of making buildings, implementing cyber-physical systems that blur the lines between the physical, digital and biological spheres. The project lends insight not only into the systems and materials involved in this new way of making but comments on how these might be implemented in the preservation of our built heritage, he pointed out.

He said that awards such as the Corobrik Architectural Student of the Year Award brought public attention to architecture in general. “This is particularly important since architecture and the issues involved in its making are not generally part of public discourse in this country. Furthermore, the award programme is aspirational, driving quality through competition, promoting the adoption of contemporary issues and values and setting a benchmark for standards of excellence in architecture.”

Meyer thanked this year’s judges – Lauren Haiden from Paton Taylor architects in Durban, Rob Gillard from Intsika Architects in East London and Luyanda Mphahlwa, President of the South African Institute of Architects (SAIA) and director of Design Space Africa – as well as guest speaker, Ilse Woolf from Wolff Architects in Cape Town, whose presentation ‘Border Practice: Some attitudes towards architectural publications, exhibitions and design’ addressed the relationship between restorative justice, embedded research and juicy design aesthetics.

The creative output from our studio considers the past in terms of how to act restoratively and imaginatively when making interventions into the present,” she noted.

Meyer also noted that Corobrik, too, believed in the fusion of past and present. One of the company’s most celebrated products – face-brick – demonstrated how sophisticated research and development could lead to the introduction of innovative new products born from technology dating back to 7 500 BC.

Like their predecessors, the recently launched new Corobrik black and white face bricks were durable, non-toxic, reusable, energy and thermally efficient and low maintenance. Manufactured using some the latest technology in sophisticated eco-friendly gas fired kilns which minimised energy usage and emissions, they nevertheless catapulted a tried and tested building material from the realm of the conservative and historical into the new age of modern, dramatic architecture.

Riaan Huiskens synopsis.

THE DESIGN OF A 3D PRINTING FACILITY I N CENTRAL PORT ELIZABETH.

High-tech architecture is moving towards a paradigm shift with the development and incorporation of digital fabrication technology. This interest is extended into the discussion of recycling existing infrastructure. In this treatise, a topic which ties into both the heritage and ecological discourse. It recognises the significance of historical urban elements and the finite quality of heritage resources within the city.

A historical building used as a host for the design of a 3D printing facility invites a dialogue between the architecture of the old and the expression of the new. The Premier Mill Building is identified as a historical urban artefact and the programme complements the historical background of the building, which was a granary. The primary architectural exploration focuses on the possibilities offered by 3D printing in the making and expression of architecture. The nature of the facility organises function before sign. Meaning the initial architecture lies in the systematic operations of the facility as a place of digital fabrication. Therefore, it focuses on successfully incorporating existing infrastructure as functioning components to the system. Secondly, the building is a sign of its function, a visual opportunity for a new architecture to reflect the nature of the facility.

Riaan Huiskens biograaphy

I was brought up in the presence of an architectural mind, exposing me to simplified thinking and challenging the status quo. My school career provided a solid foundation towards studying architecture and my interest in photography aided with visualisation and composition.

Corobrik celebrates progress at new R801 million brick factory at Driefontein

Corobrik celebrates progress at new R801 million brick factory at Driefontein

30 April 2019

Pictured at the sod turning of the new Corobrik factory at Driefontein is from left to right Lerato Mokgotsi, Rehab Mathobela Corobrik Directors, Peter du Trevou Corobrik Chairman with Bryan Soldaat, Director: Resources Based Industries for the Department of Trade and Industry.

Corobrik, South Africa’s leading brick maker, is making steady progress in the construction of its R801-million new Driefontein factory and expects to see the first bricks exit kiln one of two kilns in March next year.

Speaking at an event held at the new factory building at Driefontein and attended by Minister of Trade and Industry, Rob Davies, chief executive of Corobrik Dirk Meyer said that Corobrik would commission Africa’s largest and most environmentally friendly brick factory by September 2020.

We are committed to South Africa and believe that it is just a matter of time before the construction sector improves. The construction industry and the associated brick industry has traditionally been and still is, cyclical. Corobrik has always invested strategically at the bottom of the cycle in order to be better prepared to reap the rewards of an upturn.” he said.

Meyer said that the driving force behind investment in this exciting facility was to increase production whilst reducing costs. The implementation of the best technology available worldwide would ensure that Corobrik remained a world-class superior quality producer.

Dirk Meyer, chief executive of Corobrik presents to Bryan Soldaat, Director: Resources Based Industries for the Department of Trade and Industry

The new Driefontein facility, which is expected to produce 100 million bricks per year, will meet larger volume orders for major construction and infrastructure projects while the company’s existing 13 clay brick factories and 14 kilns which produce a mix of plaster and face bricks for the residential and commercial markets, will meet smaller orders, he added.

Corobrik currently sells about four million bricks per working day. Construction of the new facility began in July last year. Construction is expected to be completed by the end of 2019.

Approximately 200 employees are on site each day during construction with a total of 323 000-man-hours recorded so far, he noted.

Minister Rob Davies congratulated Corobrik on progress so far. He said the company was well positioned to take full advantage of increased demand for building materials as the many new manufacturing facilities that had been announced by investors in response to government’s drive to attract both local and foreign investment began to take shape.

Bryan Soldaat, spokesperson for DTI pictured with Musa Shangase, commercial director of Corobrik

He also welcomed the fact that the construction of the new Driefontein facility would have a positive impact on the neighbouring community.

“The new Driefontein factory will use considerably less energy than the adjacent older facility.

It will fire bricks at an average natural gas consumption at less than 40% of the current facility consumption.”

 

30 people from the local community and family members of the current staff have completed a 12-week bricklaying course. The main contractor will employ these newly trained bricklayers for the duration of construction.

More than a million bricks will be used to build the new facility. Designers have used mainly face bricks manufactured at the current Driefontein factory. This includes 720 000 Blue Barley, 50 000 Country Classic Travertine and 163 000 Golden Wheat face bricks together with smaller numbers of Maize Travertine, Onyx Satin, Roan Satin, Agate and plaster bricks.

Corobrik does not intend to shut down the older Driefontein factory, Meyer said they were exploring the feasibility of running both production facilities by introducing new product offerings in the market.

The new plant will create around 60 jobs in the factory and will require at least 800 bricklayers to bring in the bricks that are produced and sold.

It would also be necessary to upgrade existing skills needed to operate the state-of-the-art technology factory.

When recruiting staff for the new factory, preference will be given to existing employees who will be trained on the new equipment as they have the advantage that they understand the brick making process,” he said. This will create vacancies and job opportunities elsewhere in the business.

Both local and overseas manufacture of the new equipment to be installed at Driefontein has already begun. Some of the items have already been installed. 178 shipping containers have been delivered and offloaded since the middle of January 2019. By the end of the project, approximately 600 containers of machinery and equipment will have been delivered to the site.

All surface water will be channelled into one of the existing quarry dams and then reused as process water. A new effluent treatment plant will also be constructed.

Photovoltaic panels will be installed on the north facing roof to convert solar energy into AC power and act as a grid tie in system to supplement Eskom supply during the day. It is estimated that the electrical energy produced will be approximately 10% of the factory’s daytime electrical power requirement.

HARD TIMES

HARD TIMES

John Matthews, President, Master Builders South Africa

It seems things couldn’t get a lot worse than the Executive Director of an industry’s representative body having to remind Government that its bad payment record has contributed to a huge financial problem, and plead for an intervention to prevent “further destruction of the industry”. It’s true though, and we have all been aware of this for a very long time. Private clients are also not blameless.
As a result, five major building companies have succumbed to fatal financial losses in less than a year and for an industry that employs 11% of the South African workforce, its plight is quite correctly described as a national crisis.
It’s all in your SA Builder magazine this month, so it’s not helpful for me to labour the point.
What is just as disturbing, however, is that a struggling industry should now find itself under threat from criminal gangs intent on disrupting projects estimated to have a total value of R25.5 billion. Claiming to want a slice of the pie, the invading offenders then proceed to damage or destroy the work being done and send the professionals and artisans fleeing for their lives – 110 of them are reported to have actually left the country.
The results have been bad. Foreign investors in infrastructural projects have withdrawn and projects have been halted.
There’s no doubt that in both instances, it’s the government’s task to rectify the wrong. Sure, contractors can employ heavy security to keep projects safe and reassurances can be given to foreign investors that the invasions will stop as a result, but how is this a way to build our country’s vitally needed infrastructure? Are we to believe that criminal activity has become the norm at all levels of civil society? I personally don’t believe that – and put it down to poorly applied, probably badly-trained, law-enforcement, combined with poverty-driven criminal desperation.
This does paint an awful picture and nobody could be more regretful than I am in having to make it the subject of my contribution to our industry magazine. I pray for the day when our hard-won skills, tireless work, diligence, honesty, integrity and plain downright decency win out in the end.
I must however not let the gloom overshadow a remarkable achievement by one of our number, Stefanutti Stocks Building KZN who up to 31 January this year had worked 3 031 818 hours without a lost time injury over a period of 58 months. This is highly commendable and even more so in an industry like ours where the potential for harm is high, considering the workforce numbers, machinery and materials involved. The company puts the achievement down to management commitment and a very stringent occupational health and safety regimen.
Congratulations to this admirable member of our industry whose achievement stands as a benchmark and objective in respect of safety for all of us.
It’s news like this that gives us the motivation to forge ahead in difficult times.

All the best to all of you.

John

Master Builders Association North – celebrates 115 years of service to the construction industry

Master Builders Association North – celebrates 115 years of service to the construction industry

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Pretoria Master Builders Association was founded in 1903 and the Johannesburg Master Builders Association was founded in 1894 and was formally constituted in 1904. These organisations merged in January 1996 to form the Gauteng Master Builders Association (GMBA). In 2012, the association underwent a name change and is now known as the Master Builders Association North (MBA North) – incorporating the following four regions: Gauteng, North West, Mpumalanga and Limpopo.

The Association is located at Construction Park, No. 1, 2nd Road, Halfway House, Midrand and is an employers organisation serving the interests of its members in the building and allied trade industries, registered in the Building Industry.

Since its inception the Association and its members boast a rich legacy of construction of countless iconic landmarks across the region and has pioneered important construction training courses, developed contractual agreements and brought construction health and safety into sharp focus – amongst numerous other services for its members.

The Union Buildings: On the 26th November 1910 the cornerstone of the Union Building was laid by the Duke of Connaught after General Jan Smuts had given the go-ahead for the planning.

Two firms of contractors were appointed on the Building. Meischke, a Hollander to build the two blocks, and Messrs Prentice and Mackie for the central Amphitheatre Block.

Hoisting of the Atlas statue at the Union Buildings

115 Years On – Building On The Decades Of A Strong Legacy

115 Years On – Building On The Decades Of A Strong Legacy

It is for us as the Master Builders Association North team – comprising our professional services staff, office bearers and Executive Committee – indeed a great honour and privilege to uphold and continue with the excellent work begun by the industry stalwarts of the late19th and 20th centuries,” said Mohau Mphomela – Executive Director of Master Builders Association North.

A significant portion of our membership base has been with us for over 50 years and many are also smaller family owned businesses, such as HJ Wolfwinkel , who have been members of MBA North for over 70 years, Each still plays a very active role in the association, particularly in the ExCo and mentorship roles..

Such companies, to name but a few, include HJ Wolfwinkel (1947); Derek Smith & Sons (1926); Giuricich Bros Construction (1946); Barrow Construction (1905); Ohlhorst Africa (1963); Concor Construction (1936); Edilcon Construction (1968); and Corobrik (1963).

Mohau Mphomela – Executive Director of Master Builders Association North

Furthermore, it is these legendary stalwarts of old that have ultimately made the MBA Norththe strong member-orientated organisation it is today: in particular with regard to training and skills development, preparation of standard contracts and manuals, and most importantly, the great strides made in the management and operation of Construction Health and Safety

Looking to the future

Musa Shangase, President of Master Builders Association North

As 35% of overall business comes from Government projects it remains one of our key objective to continue with direct and robust engagement with Government at every level on behalf of our members,” said Musa Shangase, President of MBA North.

In this way we will assist where there are gaps and will have a dedicated team interacting directly with Ministers to promote the National Development Plan (NDP).

In the same vein, as much project investment funding is derived from the private sector, we will maintain and escalate our engagement with these companies and individuals.”

Mphomela notes that: “We envisage expansion and growth into different provinces, thus creating much more awareness. In addition we re now holding more events and workshops in the various northern provinces.”

Mission

The following are the Strategic Pillars of Delivery of MBA North:

  • Providing quality services that matter to our members

  • Facilitating best practice within our MBA and within the building industry

  • Building teams and network platforms that make a difference

  • Enabling exceptional quality through sustainable transformation.

Code of ethics

The Association expects its members to maintain a high standard of conduct and efficiency and has accordingly drawn up the following code of ethics to which all members are required to adhere.

A member shall conduct their business in a just and honourable manner and shall, in their dealings with clients, with members of the professions, other contractors and subcontractors, suppliers and employees, maintain at all times the high standard of business integrity required by the Association.

MBA North Executive Committee Members

The general management of the Association is overseen by the Executive Committee (EXCO). Members of the EXCO are elected from the ranks of the general membership.

There are currently twenty elected members on the Committee and one co-opted member. The EXCO meets at least once a quarter and follows a structured Agenda which covers governance, membership, financial, commercial, administrative and strategic matters.

 

 

2019 Office Bearers: Front row, from left to right:Sello Mokawane – Jnr Vice President, Musa Shangase – President, Wayne Albertyn – Vice President. Back row, from left to right:Mohau Mphomela – Executive Director, Jason Wilmot – Immediate Past President, Mandla Danisa – Honorary Treasurer.

SIDEBAR

MBA North markets the association to all relevant target markets, from architectural professionals and developers to homeowners.

MBA North provides services that support the continuous development of our members through educating, informing networking and strategic partnerships. By becoming a member you will instantly be part of a professionally diverse network of over 500 members. Our regional and provincial events and online resources provide our members with unprecedented networking and business opportunities with fellow MBA North members, access to employers, vital industry advice, continued learning and high quality speakers.

This puts them in a mutually beneficial networking space that creates business opportunities between members.