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.


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