Heavy Earth Moving Equipment Ideally Suited To Construction

Key to construction projects spanning the full range of sizes (from domestic to heavy industrial) is heavy equipment. The range of description applying to earth moving equipment covers a huge sector of machines that excavate and grade soil and rock. These also serve to increase the pace of earth work, materials handling, demolition and construction.

Vital to construction projects, these heavy construction machines serve a variety of purposes and have many functions. Let’s take a look at the most important machines for major construction projects.


Driven by tracks or wheels, excavators are substantial in size, and usually have a 360-degree rotating long bucket arm connected to a pivoting cab. Ensuring a 360-degree line of sight, the operator is positioned in the cab. These machines have added fit for purpose qualities, can be modified with specific attachments for jobs, and are used for river dredging, mining, heavy lifting and pipe installation, rough grading, demolition, brush cutting, excavating trenches and materials handling.

Backhoe Loaders

These machines look like farm tractors, comprising a front adjustable shovel and a back digging bucket. Medium-sized and suitable for small to medium jobs, they can operate in tight spaces. Backhoe loaders place pipes, dig holes and trenches, backfill excavations and move dirt. Ideally suited to urban areas where they can be wheel driven, their back buckets can be altered to dig trenches.


Considered by many to be the most strong and dependable machines in the construction sector, bulldozers shift dirt along large areas of land, as well as rough or fine grading, and in certain cases crushing boulders. Their front blades are wide and flat, operated by hydraulic pistons which adjust the blades to different angles and depths.

Skid-Steer Loaders

Versatile, these loaders are compact and able to circulate in their own footprint. Similar to a tank, they are suited for confined space work or in regions where work has been completed. They are driven by wheels which lessen soil compacting and disruption to completed areas, with excellent traction in snow and mud. The loaders come in different sizes and can be fitted with different addons for digging, drilling, compacting, log grappling, snow blowing and jack-hammering.

Motor Graders

These move small tranches of dirt and are used for fine grading, gravel roads and preparing road bases prior to asphalt placement, with an adjustable blade that can create a flat surface. Motor graders may be fitted with a second blade in the front axle for mining operations. Also used to make surfaces and drainage ditches with shallow V-shaped cross sections.

Crawler Loaders

A blend of a bucket loader and an excavator, it has tracks for stability and its bucket is suitable for transporting soil and loading material onto vehicles. These machines can be used for small excavations.


These dig trenches for piping and cabling, and comprise multiple sizes, from large trenching machines that can cut into asphalt pavement and other hard surfaces, to small walk-behind versions.  Trenchers have a conveyer feature to transport the excavated dirt to the adjacent ground. Attaching certain digging implements depends on the trench depth and evacuated material.


These transport material at a rapid pace around a construction project, and dig and level big land areas. Designed mostly for open areas, scarpers are big machines running at high speeds for cut and fill operations. Their sizes range from large (motor scrapers) to small (pull scrapers).

Dump Trucks

Highly useful on construction sites, these machines have the vital function of moving and dumping material that weighs a ton. Dump Trucks are suitable for use on roads and so can transport material to and from site, consisting of a range of sizes depending on the job needs (small with dump beds to extra-large ones for mining.

Tower Cranes

These fixed cranes hoist material for use in construction structures at height, and can lift heavy components such as concrete blocks, steel trusses and frames to the desired height. Tower cranes comprise the mast (vertical supporting tower), jib (operating arm of crane), counter jib (rear counter weight carrying arm) and an operator cabin from which to operate the crane.


Operating in the construction of roads to lay equipment, these have a feeding bucket into which asphalt is loaded nonstop by the dump truck. After the paver evenly spreads the asphalt on the road surface with a degree of compaction, a roller finishes the required compaction.


These compact the material / earth surface, and come in three different types. Smooth wheel rollers compact shallow layers, sheep-foot rollers compact deep layers and pneumatic tyred rollers compact fine materials.

Feller Bunchers

Feller Bunchers are tree cutting and removing heavy equipment. Without felling, they cut and grab trees, gathering them in one location for loaders and dump trucks to remove them.

Pile Driving Equipment

More heavy-duty equipment used for construction sites and areas, specifically for pile foundation procedures. These equipment components lift piles and hold them in the required position, then drives them into the ground at the necessary depth.

Diverse pile driving machines, falling under the banner of pile driving equipment, consist of Piling Rigs, Piling Hammers and Hammer Guides. In all cases, piles are inserted into the ground by repeatedly hammering the pile top, either by dropping or hydraulic methods.



ISO 20887 Sustains Buildings and Civil Engineering Works

Contributing nearly 40 % of global CO2 emissions from energy, the building sector has enormous potential to clean up our world. A new International Standard helps the industry do just that by optimizing how buildings are used as well as effectively reusing and recycling their components when their time is finally up.

ISO 20887, Sustainability in buildings and civil engineering works – Design for disassembly and adaptability – Principles, requirements and guidance, helps owners, architects, engineers and any other party involved in the life cycle of a building to improve its sustainability, saving time and resources along the way.

It assists users in two ways: by extending the building’s life through effective adaptability that makes it suitable for another use; and by optimising its resources at the end of life through effective disassembly, reuse, recycling and disposal of its various materials.

The result is reduced carbon emissions through optimal use of the building, lower costs through longer lifespan and better use of resources, and less waste going into landfill.

Philippe Osset, Chair of the ISO subcommittee that developed the standard, said users get the most benefit from disassembly and adaptability guidance if they consider its integration into the very early stages of the building works project.

“This will help them obtain the full potential value of a building throughout its life cycle, from repairs and refurbishments to the reuse, recycling and appropriate disposal of its components when it is no longer able to be used,” he said.

“What’s more, this approach is exactly what supports the circular economy, thus contributing to a more sustainable world.”

In that sense, the new standard also contributes directly to the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goal 11 on sustainable cities and communities.

ISO 20887 was developed by ISO technical committee ISO/TC 59, Buildings and civil engineering works, subcommittee SC 17, Sustainability in buildings and civil engineering works, the secretariat of which is held by AFNOR, ISO’s member for France. It can be purchased by your national ISO member or through the ISO Store.

About ISO

ISO is an independent, non-governmental international organisation with a membership of 164 national standards bodies.

Through its members, it brings together experts to share knowledge and develop voluntary, consensus-based, market relevant International Standards that support innovation and provide solutions to global challenges.

International Standards make things work. They give world-class specifications for products, services and systems, to ensure quality, safety and efficiency. They are instrumental in facilitating international trade.

ISO has published 23 010 International Standards and related documents, covering almost every industry, from technology, to food safety, to agriculture and healthcare. ISO International Standards impact everyone, everywhere.

PPC’s Dikagong Addresses South Africa’s Home Development Knowledge Gap

Over the past 127 years both PPC and South Africans have worked in unison to fulfil our home development ambitions. PPC has evolved its customer engagement efforts to include edutainment that takes place in a fictional city in South Africa called Dikagong. In doing so we strive to empower communities to experience a better quality of life while adding sustainable value.

Recognising that ordinary South Africans need far more support in home building than they are currently receiving, Dikagong advocates conversations around quality home building. The 13-part radio drama series uses dialogue that reflects and addresses South African’s everyday building concerns as they work to improve their streets and communities.

“As the leading supplier of cement related products in southern Africa, we actively seek to create sustainable value that makes a real difference to everyone. Our South African communities are at the core of this commitment. Therefore, by using Dikagong we aim to ensure that all South Africans, irrespective of their socio-economic status, get the best education and expert guidance that relates to building quality, durable homes,” explains Njombo Lekula, Managing Director at PPC RSA Cement.

With the right support in building quality, durable structures in short supply, Dikagong enables the country to see themselves in each of the characters as they follow the tale of MaPPC and his no-nonsense mother Mme Moagi She, like all of us, want only the best materials when building our dream homes. Dikagong, under the guidance of Ntate Mothusi, the village hardware store owner, takes the nation on a journey as they learn about building long lasting homes that will stand the test of time.

“Our people are committed to realising their home development dreams,” continues Lekula. “We know that together we are stronger and by working together with South Africans, we ensure that quality, strength and pride remain a consistent feature in the building of all our homes. PPC recognises that we are destined to have a country with durable, dignified homes that are built for all families and we are working to ensure we provide the education, knowledge and support to secure this.”

To follow the story join Dikagong on Thursdays at 17:35 with repeats on Saturdays between 06:00 and 09:00 on a community radio station near you. Visit https://ppc.africa/za/ppc-dikagong or follow PPC on Twitter @PPCisCement, like us on www.facebook.com/PPC for more information.

About PPC Ltd

PPC is an iconic material and solutions provider of quality and consistent cement, aggregates, metallurgical-grade lime, burnt dolomite, limestone, ready-mix and fly ash. We also provide technical support to our customers. PPC’s story stretches back over 127 years to where we were first incorporated on the outskirts of Pretoria in 1892. As the first cement plant in South Africa, we have established ourselves as a resilient organisation by adapting to ever-changing economic, operating and political environments.

This Sub-Saharan brand continues to grow beyond South African borders into Botswana, Zimbabwe, Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda and Ethiopia where our footmark extends. We are proud to be a leading provider of quality building materials and solutions to empower people to experience a better quality of life.

The 5th Edition of The Franki Guide to Geotechnical Engineering in Africa

Reflecting the rich history of the Franki legend, the Fifth Edition of the widely acknowledged “Blue Book” on geotechnical engineering incorporates elements of its holding company, the Keller Group, and many of Keller’s state-of-the-art ground improvement and grouting technologies. 

The book, entitled A Guide to Practical Geotechnical Engineering in Africa was officially launched by Keller’s Prof Michal Topolnicki, Senior Technical Advisor, at the 17th African Regional Geotechnical Conference in Cape Town, held between 7 and 9 October 2019.  The conference was attended by both local and international delegates, including senior board members of the ISSMGE.

A Celebrated Tradition

This latest edition maintains the 50-year tradition of updating this now well-established textbook every 10 years. The book also mirrors the evolution and changes within Franki, from a small piling company in the era after the Second World War to the leading Geotechnical Engineering Company in the African Region.

The first two editions published in 1976 and 1986, respectively, entitled A Guide to Piling and Foundation Systems illustrate Franki as a piling company and the Southern African branch of the worldwide Belgian-owned Franki group. Franki started as a small piling company in Southern Africa after the Second World War and expanded into a significant piling company during the 1950s and 1960s. The first edition was authored by then managing director Ian Braatvedt, with a foreword by the legendary Prof JE Jennings.

The second two editions, published in 1996 and 2008, respectively, are both titled A Practical Guide to Geotechnical Engineering in Southern Africa. They demonstrate Franki’s change of logo and ownership, as well as the evolution into a geotechnical contracting company offering a wide range of geotechnical products and marine engineering capability.

The development of Franki’s in-house geotechnical design capability is demonstrated by the significant sections on design and the co-authoring of Gavin Byrne as a senior member of the Franki team, for both these editions.

New Chapters

The new Fifth Edition, co-authored once again by Gavin Byrne – together with Dr Nicol Chang as Technical Director of Franki and Dr Venu Raju as the Keller Group’s director: Engineering and Operations – depicts Franki’s expansion through the African continent and the Indian Ocean Islands.

The ownership of Franki Africa by the Keller Group, the largest geotechnical contractor worldwide, is reflected in the significant change and evolution of the book’s content, the inclusion of colour into the graphics and illustrations, as well as the doubling of the pagination from 270 pages in the First Edition to 540 pages in this Fifth Edition.

The new edition incorporates the deep foundation, lateral support, design, marine and limited ground improvement content of the third and fourth editions, and adds Keller’s extensive range of ground improvement, grouting and associated design methodologies.

Trenchless technology and the introduction to Limit State Design are an added feature of the comprehensive publication. Franki’s key suppliers are acknowledged and provided with advertorial space and reference to their products/equipment.

The foreword by Professor Peter Day, recognised internationally for his delivery of the Terzaghi Oration as a leading geopractioner of the African region, is greatly appreciated for its recognition of contribution of the Blue Book to the geotechnical industry. The authors would like to thank all in the Keller Group and Franki for their contributions and support in the preparation of their new publication.


SONA: Construction Industry Needs Less Talk, More Action

Construction industry cannot live on plans alone

At this year’s State of the Nation address (SONA), President Ramaphosa once again emphasised the need to shift state expenditure from debt servicing to infrastructure and other forms of productive activity likely to create growth and jobs. He also announced that the funding available for infrastructure had ballooned from R100 billion to R700 billion. But, says Mohau Mphomela, Executive Director, Master Builders Association (MBA) North, these plans are not translating into projects with sufficient rapidity.

“For the past three years, the President has used SONA to announce the need to revitalise the economy and the key role that infrastructure will play in that process. Although there has been a series of consultation between the construction industry and government, few tangible projects have resulted,” he says. “The fact is that the past three years has seen several of our leading construction firms going into business rescue or going out of business entirely: big infrastructure plans are not translating into work for the construction industry.”

Group Five, Basil Read, NMC Construction, Esor and the Liviero Group are just some of the big names who have had to file for business rescue or declare bankruptcy in last few years. These companies in turn support a wide range of smaller contractors which collaborate with them on massive projects. These sub-contractors not only employ thousands of people, they also represent the next generation of empowered businesses.

For example, according to the IDC, the construction sector has shed some 142 000 jobs and its employment figures are at a four-year low. MBA North points out that as one of the foundational industries of any economy, the construction industry has a significant multiplier effect on the economy as a whole. For example, in the United States, for every 100 direct jobs, the industry supports a further 226 indirect jobs – the same sort of ratio is likely to hold for South Africa.

“Creating jobs, especially for our youth, is a burning priority for government, and construction offers one of the most reliable and direct ways of doing that. Government needs to find ways of translating its ambitious infrastructure plans into actual projects. Since SONA 2019, the Infrastructure Fund implementation team has got no further than finalising a ‘list of shovel-ready projects and has begun work to expand private investment into public infrastructure sectors with revenue streams’, to quote the President,” Mphomela says. “With all due respect, this glacial pace is simply not good enough. The industry is tottering.”

Another worrying development is the fact that CETA, the body responsible for administering the funds contributed by the industry towards training, is under administration for the second time in 10 years. This means that the industry is not upskilling its people as efficiently and quickly as required for today’s advanced construction techniques.

“The President and his team are doing a great job in raising the investment to fund the infrastructure we need to put in place, but now they need to speed up the implementation,” he concludes. “I think I speak for the whole industry when I say that we are committed to working with government to get these projects completed, but we must emphasise that the clock is ticking for us. We need action, and soon.”

Construction Sector Body Bates Breath As Minister Blade Nzimande Launches Investigation Into Financial Misconduct At Construction Sector Education and Training Authority (CETA)

The country’s body of construction contractors, Master Builders South Africa (MBSA), has called for an urgent meeting with the Minister of Higher Education, Science and Technology. The meeting is meant to provide clarity on the standing of thousands of learners who are in training programmes supported by the CETA.

The CETA was placed under administration by Minister Nzimande on the 29 January 2020 to facilitate an investigation into allegations of financial mismanagement and maladministration.

“We have thousands of learners placed with building contractors on learnerships, apprenticeships and candidacy programmes, and the immediate concern is to ensure that the placing of the CETA under administration does not result in unintended consequences for these programmes and for skills development in the construction sector,” said MBSA President, Mr John Matthews.

Matthews confirmed that MBSA was aware of ongoing challenges at the CETA, which were causing significant delays in payments of training grants, bursaries and stipends to employers and learners.

At just below 10% of the total labour force of the country, the construction industry remains one of the largest employers in the country. However, the lack of qualified and experienced workers has been cited as one of the biggest threats facing the industry. To improve delivery of skills programmes in the country, Minister Nzimande made an undertaking to implement a Contract Management System to keep track of the flow of funds, so that financial management becomes more transparent within the department. He also indicated that there would be consequences for individuals who fail to comply.

“As an industry body, maintaining a steady supply of the required building skills for the country is at the core of what we do for our members, and we remain committed to working with the minister to ensure that the CETA is more effective and delivers the skills needs of the industry,” said Matthews.