CONCRETE THAT WORKS FINE – WITHOUT ANY SAND

No-fines concrete (NFC) is obtained by eliminating the fine material – sand – from the normal concrete mix. Instead, single-sized coarse aggregates are surrounded and held together by a thin layer of cement paste to add strength.

Among the main advantages of NFC is economy in materials, higher thermal insulating values, lower shrinkage, and lower unit weight and density.  It is mainly used for load-bearing, cast-in-place external walls of single storey and multi-storey housing, small retaining walls or damp-proofing sub-base material for concrete floors cast on grade.

 Here Bryan Perrie, managing director of The Concrete Institute (TCI) sheds some light on this type of concrete:

NFC consists of coarse aggregate and cement paste. In the hardened state, the aggregate particles are covered by a thin layer of cement paste and are in point-to-point contact with each other. At each contact point, the paste forms a small fillet and these fillets hold the particles together and give strength to the concrete.

NFC therefore has large interconnected voids and a lower density than conventional dense concrete. The structure of NFC makes it ideal for use as a drainage layer under reservoir and basement floors and it can also serve as an insulating layer and as a damp-proofing material. Note, however, that NFC is definitely not suitable for drainage purposes where the water is soft or aggressive to concrete.

Materials:

* Cement – Common cement that complies with SANS 50197 should be used for NFC. Masonry cements are not suitable.

* Water – Water that is suitable for making conventional concrete should be used.

* Aggregates – Clean, single-sized concrete stone should be used, and flaky aggregates should be avoided. The most commonly used aggregate is 19mm crushed stone. Smaller stones may be used and mixes made with smaller stone are in fact easier to handle and place, but consume substantially more cement.

For most applications, mix proportions range from 200 to 300 litres of aggregate per bag (50 kg) of cement. The water content of the mix is critical: if the paste is too dry it will not coat the aggregate properly; if it is too wet, it will run off the aggregate particles and possibly block the voids at the bottom of the pour. Experience has shown that the water content should be between 18 and 22 litres of water per bag of cement.

A cubic metre of compacted NFC requires about 1.05m3 of stone, measured in the loose state. Cement content is between 260 and 180kg, depending on mix ratio.

NFC should be machine-mixed as hand mixing is difficult and laborious. If hand mixing is unavoidable, it is best to mix the cement-water paste in a container prior to mixing the paste with the stone. When mixing the paste, mix the cement into the water rather than the other way around.

NFC must be placed and compacted as soon as possible after mixing as it tends to dry out rapidly because of its open structure. Compaction is achieved by rodding the concrete – vibration must not be used and heavy tamping is not necessary.

Because of its open structure, NFC must be protected from drying out and must be thoroughly wet cured for at least seven days unless it is plastered, screeded or covered before that time.

NFC has a rough surface texture for plastering. Normal plaster mixes are used and the surface of the NFC must be dry when applying the plaster. Plastered NFC walls have some excellent qualities, but one drawback is that neither conventional wall plugs nor masonry nails can be used for attaching fixtures to the walls.

When used in underfloor drainage, roof insulation and domestic floors, NFC should be screeded within 72 hours of placing with particular attention paid to wet-curing the screed. Normal screed mixes of 100 to 130 litres of concrete sand per bag of cement should be used with enough water to produce a mix of plastic consistence.

NFC has negligible flexural or tensile strength. Compressive strength is usually between 5 and 10 MPa at 28 days for mixes in the range mentioned previously. Higher strengths may be obtained by including 50kg of fine sand per bag of cement. This increases the size of the fillets, and hence the strength, but reduces the voids and increases the density correspondingly.

For further information, contact info@theconcreteinstitute.org.za or visit www.theconcreteinstitute.org.za or phone 011 315 0300.

Construction sector is critical to SA’s post-COVID economic recovery

Traditionally, the development of risk management plans is tailored to address assessed and quantified risks. There is however always the ‘the unknown factor’. Enter the COVID-19 pandemic. Of course, we have faced localised pandemics before, but never one on such a globally synchronous scale, thanks to global travel and trade. It propelled the entire world into unchartered territory as mass economic and travel lockdowns were implemented, and contingency plans were hurriedly rolled out.  For many industry sectors and businesses already teetering on the brink, it has been a crisis of unprecedented scale – a black swan event that simply cannot be quantified or dealt with, without the benefit of hindsight.

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Traditionally, the development of risk management plans is tailored to address assessed and quantified risks. There is however always the ‘the unknown factor’. Enter the COVID-19 pandemic. Of course, we have faced localised pandemics before, but never one on such a globally synchronous scale, thanks to global travel and trade. It propelled the entire world into unchartered territory as mass economic and travel lockdowns were implemented, and contingency plans were hurriedly rolled out.  For many industry sectors and businesses already teetering on the brink, it has been a crisis of unprecedented scale – a black swan event that simply cannot be quantified or dealt with, without the benefit of hindsight.

According to Michael Viterenwa, Senior Broker in Aon South Africa’s Construction & Engineering Broking Centre, Government is the biggest spender on infrastructure in SA’s construction industry. “With the onset of our national lockdown, government diverted infrastructure spending to alleviate the economic and social crisis facing the country, cutting traditional expenditure by 80%.  This brought a large portion of the country’s economy, including the construction industry, to a grinding halt.  At the same time, restrictions on construction activity under lockdown regulations added further pain.  Projects were left standing, deadlines were missed – the consequences of which are enormous.”

Viterenwa goes on to detail some of the emerging and concerning trends impacting the construction industry – and while many existed prior to Covid-19 – they are now exponentially amplified:

Community Forums – Better known in the industry as the ‘construction mafia’, local ‘community forums’ have been springing up around virtually every construction project – from a commercial project to the roll-out of fibre in the suburbs.  Members demand their cut of the ‘work’ pie by applying pressure to contractors to employ local ‘community’ members, many who do not have the experience or skills required to perform the job. If contractors don’t comply, they are typically threatened with disruptions and even the safety of their employees and projects – some of these disruptions and threats are so severe that contractors are either forced to comply at huge cost, or in some instances, abandon the projects entirely as the situation becomes untenable and not worth the risk.  It’s a serious and growing threat to the construction industry and the much-needed infrastructure development in SA – law enforcement, local authorities and construction bodies need to find common ground to resolve this issue and regulate the practice – the practice is likely to worsen as South Africa shed a further two million jobs in the last quarter alone.

Pricing – With work and projects in short supply, pricing wars are leaving contractors exposed to the risk of unexpected costs or delays, that are often met with penalties that contractors will simply not be able to meet. Cutting corners and costs inevitably means cutting skills, quality and safety.

Currency – The Rand’s declining value against the US Dollar (26% in the last five years) has severe financial implications for an industry that relies on the import of machinery and specialised materials.

Supply Chain – Given the global nature of this crisis, supply chains across all geographies have been disrupted with extended and costly delays on key components and materials, not to mention skills.

Credit Risk – The failure of businesses across the spectrum is bringing capital availability problems into sharp focus.  Accounts receivable is often the largest uninsured asset on a company’s balance sheet, constraining cash flows and having huge implications for creditors when debtors go into business rescue or liquidation.

Skills Shortages – Uncertainty and volatility around politics and economics are likely to widen SA’s growing skills shortage as an exodus of skilled people takes place. Companies are under pressure to afford and retain top talent.  Increasing crime rates and growing social unrest as a direct result of the Covid-19 fallout are likely to further push skilled people into the arms of emigration to seemingly safer shores and better social structures.

Property Portfolios – During lockdown, many companies gave up their office space in a bid to cut costs as the work-from-home trend took hold. As a result, many companies are not spending on building new offices or renovating existing office space.  It’s likely to be a long-term trend as many corporates realise that staff can successfully work from home, and that prime floorspace might not be as necessary as once thought. Shopping centres and malls are also under severe pressure with many large retailers having to cull stores and jobs as a result of the lockdown and depressed consumer spending.

To say that times are incredibly tough and uncertain would be a gross understatement. In a bid to cope, many construction companies have cut capex by 50% – 60%, jobs have been cut, work hours have been reduced and property rentals in industrial and commercial properties are likely to never return to pre-COVID levels as remote working becomes part of the new normal.

“Construction companies, landlords, developers and contractors will need to explore ways of managing the impact and complexity of a radically changed environment.  It is vital to engage with all relevant parties to renegotiate contracts and clauses. These may include authorities, owners, lenders, contractors, subcontractors, suppliers, clients, and so on.  Aon Global Risk Consulting (AGRC) has been working with organisations to identify, assess and quantify the short- and long-term impact of Covid19 on construction projects which can then be used as a basis for negotiation with external stakeholders and help communicate the situation internally,” Michael explains.

To this extent, the approach consists of:

Identifying construction project components which can generate high financial impacts, from a cost and delay perspective.

Preparing a register listing and justifying each high financial impact and grouped by generating component.

Quantify the overall financial losses associated with each impact and creating multiple impact scenarios from a cost and delay perspective.

Comparing the results of impacts quantification to the contingency plans in place and existing insurance policies.

Insurance matters related to projects that are still on the go remains a concern. “Many companies are opting not to renew their insurance policies due to cost-cutting, which could be detrimental to their operations on projects that are still in progress. Companies have a legal obligation to ensure that cover is maintained up to the conclusion of a project, as the financial and liability repercussions could be catastrophic if anything should go wrong,” Viterenwa urges.

“The industry will pick up in the coming months and we are already seeing a commitment from Government to infrastructure spending, and positive signs on the energy front with a determination by mineral resources & energy minister Gwede Mantashe to procure 11.8GW of additional electricity in the coming years from Independent Power Producers.  Government has also committed to expedite the implementation of at least 50 infrastructure projects with a total investment value of more than R340 billion in the coming months as part of South Africa’s economic recovery plan.

“It is crucial that construction companies maintain their covers and conditions of cover as far as possible. As reinsurers and insurers prepare for their major renewal season in January 2021, they may find that they will not have access to the same type of cover, pricing and terms and conditions from insurers that they have now. A conversation with a professional broker that specialises in construction risk is crucial in order to anticipate any changes in policy wording, terms and conditions, pricing and potential exclusions  to maintain a workable and affordable level of cover during these trying times, and to avoid the potential for costly and potentially uninsurable liabilities,” says Michael.

As a key driver of South Africa’s economy, and a key pivot in the country’s post-COVID recovery, more than ever the industry sector needs to maintain and grow its resilience and embrace change to emerge leaner, focused, having mastered new technologies and a new world of work in a very different new normal. Suitably scoped insurance and risk management practices remain fundamental to being able to embrace risks for the opportunities they present in the coming months.

South Africa’s Construction & Engineering Broking Centre, Government is the biggest spender on infrastructure in SA’s construction industry. “With the onset of our national lockdown, government diverted infrastructure spending to alleviate the economic and social crisis facing the country, cutting traditional expenditure by 80%.  This brought a large portion of the country’s economy, including the construction industry, to a grinding halt.  At the same time, restrictions on construction activity under lockdown regulations added further pain.  Projects were left standing, deadlines were missed – the consequences of which are enormous.”

Viterenwa goes on to detail some of the emerging and concerning trends impacting the construction industry – and while many existed prior to Covid-19 – they are now exponentially amplified:

Community Forums – Better known in the industry as the ‘construction mafia’, local ‘community forums’ have been springing up around virtually every construction project – from a commercial project to the roll-out of fibre in the suburbs.  Members demand their cut of the ‘work’ pie by applying pressure to contractors to employ local ‘community’ members, many who do not have the experience or skills required to perform the job. If contractors don’t comply, they are typically threatened with disruptions and even the safety of their employees and projects – some of these disruptions and threats are so severe that contractors are either forced to comply at huge cost, or in some instances, abandon the projects entirely as the situation becomes untenable and not worth the risk.  It’s a serious and growing threat to the construction industry and the much-needed infrastructure development in SA – law enforcement, local authorities and construction bodies need to find common ground to resolve this issue and regulate the practice – the practice is likely to worsen as South Africa shed a further two million jobs in the last quarter alone.

Pricing – With work and projects in short supply, pricing wars are leaving contractors exposed to the risk of unexpected costs or delays, that are often met with penalties that contractors will simply not be able to meet. Cutting corners and costs inevitably means cutting skills, quality and safety.

Currency – The Rand’s declining value against the US Dollar (26% in the last five years) has severe financial implications for an industry that relies on the import of machinery and specialised materials.

Supply Chain – Given the global nature of this crisis, supply chains across all geographies have been disrupted with extended and costly delays on key components and materials, not to mention skills.

Credit Risk – The failure of businesses across the spectrum is bringing capital availability problems into sharp focus.  Accounts receivable is often the largest uninsured asset on a company’s balance sheet, constraining cash flows and having huge implications for creditors when debtors go into business rescue or liquidation.

Skills Shortages – Uncertainty and volatility around politics and economics are likely to widen SA’s growing skills shortage as an exodus of skilled people takes place. Companies are under pressure to afford and retain top talent.  Increasing crime rates and growing social unrest as a direct result of the Covid-19 fallout are likely to further push skilled people into the arms of emigration to seemingly safer shores and better social structures.

Property Portfolios – During lockdown, many companies gave up their office space in a bid to cut costs as the work-from-home trend took hold. As a result, many companies are not spending on building new offices or renovating existing office space.  It’s likely to be a long-term trend as many corporates realise that staff can successfully work from home, and that prime floorspace might not be as necessary as once thought. Shopping centres and malls are also under severe pressure with many large retailers having to cull stores and jobs as a result of the lockdown and depressed consumer spending.

To say that times are incredibly tough and uncertain would be a gross understatement. In a bid to cope, many construction companies have cut capex by 50% – 60%, jobs have been cut, work hours have been reduced and property rentals in industrial and commercial properties are likely to never return to pre-COVID levels as remote working becomes part of the new normal.

“Construction companies, landlords, developers and contractors will need to explore ways of managing the impact and complexity of a radically changed environment.  It is vital to engage with all relevant parties to renegotiate contracts and clauses. These may include authorities, owners, lenders, contractors, subcontractors, suppliers, clients, and so on.  Aon Global Risk Consulting (AGRC) has been working with organisations to identify, assess and quantify the short- and long-term impact of Covid19 on construction projects which can then be used as a basis for negotiation with external stakeholders and help communicate the situation internally,” Michael explains.

To this extent, the approach consists of:

Identifying construction project components which can generate high financial impacts, from a cost and delay perspective.

Preparing a register listing and justifying each high financial impact and grouped by generating component.

Quantify the overall financial losses associated with each impact and creating multiple impact scenarios from a cost and delay perspective.

Comparing the results of impacts quantification to the contingency plans in place and existing insurance policies.

Insurance matters related to projects that are still on the go remains a concern. “Many companies are opting not to renew their insurance policies due to cost-cutting, which could be detrimental to their operations on projects that are still in progress. Companies have a legal obligation to ensure that cover is maintained up to the conclusion of a project, as the financial and liability repercussions could be catastrophic if anything should go wrong,” Viterenwa urges.

“The industry will pick up in the coming months and we are already seeing a commitment from Government to infrastructure spending, and positive signs on the energy front with a determination by mineral resources & energy minister Gwede Mantashe to procure 11.8GW of additional electricity in the coming years from Independent Power Producers.  Government has also committed to expedite the implementation of at least 50 infrastructure projects with a total investment value of more than R340 billion in the coming months as part of South Africa’s economic recovery plan.

“It is crucial that construction companies maintain their covers and conditions of cover as far as possible. As reinsurers and insurers prepare for their major renewal season in January 2021, they may find that they will not have access to the same type of cover, pricing and terms and conditions from insurers that they have now. A conversation with a professional broker that specialises in construction risk is crucial in order to anticipate any changes in policy wording, terms and conditions, pricing and potential exclusions  to maintain a workable and affordable level of cover during these trying times, and to avoid the potential for costly and potentially uninsurable liabilities,” says Michael.

As a key driver of South Africa’s economy, and a key pivot in the country’s post-COVID recovery, more than ever the industry sector needs to maintain and grow its resilience and embrace change to emerge leaner, focused, having mastered new technologies and a new world of work in a very different new normal. Suitably scoped insurance and risk management practices remain fundamental to being able to embrace risks for the opportunities they present in the coming months.

Paragon Interface completes multi-company fit-out at 1 Park Lane

If designing the interior fit-out for an iconic building is not enough of a demanding challenge, imagine the complexities that arise when such a building contains a number of different clients, each with their own requirements, branding and aesthetics.

This was the challenge that faced interior architecture company Paragon Interface, part of the Paragon Group, at 1 Park Lane in Sandton. “Essentially what you end up with then is a number of smaller, self-contained projects contained within the whole,” comments Paragon Interface Associate Kirsty Schoombie.

Located within the new Katherine Street mixed-use precinct, 1 Park Lane is a P-grade development within walking distance of Sandton City and the Sandton Gautrain Station. It has seven levels of parking and a ground floor, with Bidvest Financial Services occupying the building from reception to L4.

There is an impressive double-volume space on L5 that forms the shared reception area for both Peregrine and Citadel. This is an elegant, high-end space containing various-sized meeting rooms. The signage and artwork in this space was designed in collaboration with Citadel marketing agency Bain & Bunkell.

It came up with the unique concept of naming each meeting room after a prominent Johannesburg street or location, including specific photographs and locally-commissioned artwork to differentiate and individualise each space.

The southern wing contains a client entertainment area, in addition to an auditorium that is glazed on two sides to allow for breathtaking views over Johannesburg. The auditorium posed a particular technical challenge in terms of its acoustics and unique positioning.

Peregrine and Citadel occupy L6 to L10, consisting of Peregrine Capital, Citadel Wealth Management, A2X and Peresec. The latter is a newly-listed company on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange that takes up L9 and part of L10, which is a hi-tech trading space that includes a bar and entertainment area, with panoramic views over northern Sandton.

“A main feature of our design approach was to give each and every one of our clients a distinctive look and feel, especially as each one has their own corporate identity,” notes Schoombie. This was achieved by means of specific furnishings, colour palettes, fabrics and fixtures, while also accommodating the specific technical requirements of such financial services companies.

While the entire 1 Park Lane project was handed over in September last year, Schoombie has maintained close contact with her clients to gauge how the different companies have adapted to their new office environments.

“One of the biggest changes has been from a traditional closed-off office plan to a more open-plan set-up. We spent a lot of time with these clients to ensure that a level of privacy was maintained while still taking optimal advantage of the natural light and creating a more open collaborative space,” Schoombie concludes.

PUBLIC PROCUREMENT PROCESSES LARGEST STUMBLING BLOCK TO ROLLING OUT PUBLIC INFRASTRUCTURE

In June this year, while National Treasury called for public commentary on the Draft Public Procurement Bill, President Ramaphosa held the Inaugural Sustainable Infrastructure Development Symposium (SIDSSA). Out of this, National Minister of Public Works and Infrastructure Patricia de Lille announced 276 projects aimed to fast track a “robust infrastructure pipeline” purported to set South Africa’s economy back on track and kickstart the flaying property development and construction industry.

Deon van Zyl, chair of the Western Cape Property Development Forum (WCPDF), believes there is a great deal of expectation on this very pipeline to help resurrect the private sector within the property development and construction industry.

“Ironically,” notes Van Zyl, “it is, to a large extent, the way in which the public sector has tied up our industry in red tape and legislation for years that has led to the critical situation we are now in.  Especially when it comes to procurement − which includes tendering − as well as planning and building approval processes.”

The WCPDF itself has delivered comment on behalf of the industry against the Draft Public Procurement Bill, noting that while the organisation believes the Bill is a valiant attempt at ensuring that procurement becomes more transparent and uniform across the country, it remains to be seen if the culture of change which the Bill proposes will filter down to local municipal levels, where the biggest problems lie in.

Chris Botha, the Chief Operating Officer of civil engineering and construction company, Civils 2000, agrees. The company has itself been in operation since 1992 in both construction as well as plant and machinery hire to the local construction sector. With tendering for projects in both the civil and private space being a very resource-intensive process at the best of times in terms of estimating and pricing, he notes: “Most contractors hope to have a funnel of work and to convert at least 10% of projects tendered into awarded projects.”

However, a huge frustration in terms of government projects is the withdrawal of tenders resulting in no awards being made at all, notes Botha: “And this is something that we’ve seen increase substantially over the past 12 to 18 months.”

Van Zyl adds that, with government’s own inability to get its projects to market, the construction industry is desperate for private sector projects to hit the ground: “Yet applications by the private sector are also severely hindered by government red tape and ineffective bureaucracies, with statutory approvals required just being too slow for projects to remain economically viable.

This means that private projects stagnate due to rising costs even before a shovel hits the ground, and thousands of  planned jobs in for construction workers in the most vulnerable of communities never materialise.

“So the contracting industry is being penalised on both public and private sector projects . Government is not spending money on its projects and is also actively delaying the spending by private sector clients on their own projects due to delays in processing applications,” explains Van Zyl.

On the hopes of achieving stability in the industry via the President’s proposed SIDSSA projects, Botha notes: “Any information that comes to the market and promises work is obviously good news for us. However, with the pain that the industry has had with the folding of many of the larger construction companies, we now need to see what the actual timelines will be of those promises unfolding.

After all, he says: “We’ve had the National Development Plan that’s been around since 2012 and how much of that have we seen?”

While Civils 2000 is in a position to enjoy a “50/50 balance between work for the public versus the private sector” Botha admits though: “On the public sector side, it’s extremely competitive and has become a very costly process just to tender.”

He cites the example of a recent large public sector project the company tendered for in East London: “In terms of manpower hours and out-of-pocket expenses, the tender process alone cost us about R400 000.”

However, at the end of the day, the local authority decided to go with a lower-priced win, which saw the technical aspects of the project slip substantially – a common occurrence among numerous municipalities.

Says Botha:  “That’s extremely frustrating because you hope most of your clients have the technical interests of a project to heart when they consider what they are buying. But, unfortunately, in the Western Cape, at municipality and sometimes even at provincial level, there seem to be different motivators to awarding projects.”

Van Zyl believes that trying to do work for government is becoming too costly for the private property industry and the process too risky, leading often expenditure on the part of the tenderer that will never be recouped: “The very process of government trying to limit its own exposure to frivolous and wasteful expenditure, is causing the private sector to incur frivolous and wasteful expenditure on its part.”

These are among the many concerns that the WCPDF has also noted in its response to the Procurement Bill, says Van Zyl, explaining that procurement procedures in the past have also been unable to distinguish between the procurement of day-to-day commodities versus the procurement of fixed capital investment assets and associated services.

“It may be fair to procure the lowest prices on consumables,” explains Van Zyl. “But to consider only the lowest prices on tenders aimed at building fixed capital assets, which are meant to serve the country for decades to come, should carry a strong weighting towards being ‘fit for purpose’ rather than just about price.

“If this is not acknowledged by the new Bill, then the government will continue to be guilty of not only wasting taxpayers’ money, but even putting the wellbeing of citizens at risk when the cheapest builds result in unsound structures. Something we are now seeing increasingly, particularly in the affordable housing market.”

The industry views procurement in such a serious light, that it is the topic of the last in the series of the WCPDF’s online “In Conversation” webinar, against the topic: “Procurement – Impeder or Enabler in Infrastructure Delivery,” to be held on Thursday 19 November from 14h00 to 16h00.

MORE ABOUT THIS WCPDF “IN CONVERSATION” WEBINAR

 To be held on Thursday 19 November, from 14h00 to 16h00, Dr Ron Watermeyer (Visiting Adjunct Professor, School of Construction Economics and Management, University of the Witwatersrand) will set the background for the discussion. Watermeyer is also the author (together with Sean Philips) of the March 2020 Draft Background Paper on Public Infrastructure Delivery and Construction Dynamism in the South African Economy. This was part of the National Planning Commission’s Economy Series contributing towards the understanding of progress towards the National Development Plan Vision 2030.

 Dr Watermeyer will be in conversation on the 19th with Alwyn Laubscher (COO of AL&A), Assoc Professor Kathy Michell (Head of Department: Construction Economics & Management, University of Cape Town) and Prof Geo Quinot (Department of Public Law, Stellenbosch University.)

 

 

Fabric Masks: Important information on the do’s and don’ts of which masks to use

General fabric masks with breathing valves and fabric neck buffs

Fabric face masks for general public use with valves or vents permit air to be exhaled through an opening in the material, which can result in expelled respiratory droplets that can reach others – potentially enabling the spread of Covid-19.

General public fabric face masks with breathing valves/vents does not have the necessary barrier efficiency required.
It is therefore NOT recommended for the general public to use fabric face masks with breathing valves or vents. These breathing vent/valve masks defeat the purpose and it is recommended that these types of masks not be worn or sold in the Republic of South
Africa.

Fabric neck buffs, are generally a tube of fabric worn around the neck, are made of thin, stretchy material and offer little to no prevention for respiratory droplets from being expelled by the wearer
and reaching others. It is NOT recommended that these neck buffs be worn as a preventative mechanism against the Covid-19 pandemic.

Fabric Selection for Masks

Tests have shown that at least two layers of fabric is sufficient for balancing performance and comfort. An increase in the number of layers will improve the barrier efficiency, but have the opposite effect on breathability.

Using three layers, selecting a non-woven fabric with strong filtering capability as the middle layer is recommended.
Ideally this middle layer should be inserted into the mask (or removed) via an envelope style design to allow for improved cleaning and easy replacement filters when worn out.

It is recommended that the pocket into which it fits be at least 120mm by 100mm to ensure compatibility between multiple masks and filters in production domestically. Clear markings or design options must be used to distinguish between the outside of the mask and the inside of the mask.

ESTABLISHMENT OF LOCALISATION TARGETS

As you may be aware, the recently announced Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plan (ERRP) announced by President Ramaphosa lists various interventions to return the economy to growth. This follows extensive engagement between social partners at NEDLAC.

Among the economic interventions outlined in the ERRP is a commitment to greater localisation from social partners, including specific commitments from business. In line with this, BUSA committed on behalf of its members to (1) develop a list of products with specific localisation targets; and (2) disclosure in company annual reports the value of procurement from local producers and on steps taken to improve localisation.

In a recent engagement with Minister Patel, BUSA undertook to submit a list of products with specific localisation targets. I would like to therefore request that you submit a list of products that will be targeted for localisation in the short to medium term, with details around volume and value targeted, for consolidation into a BUSA submission to the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Competition. I would be grateful if this information could be submitted by 12:00 on Thursday, 5 November 2020.

I appreciate the very short period in which I am asking for this information, but we think it will be possible for business to drive this localisation agenda if we have comprehensive data as soon as possible. We believe the localisation area is one where business can take the lead, including in demonstrating our thinking and progress, and identifying ongoing blockages to progress. The data I seek now will get us onto this road!

Kind Regards,
Cas Coovadia (BUSA CEO)

Unpacking the digital transformation of the built environment

RIB CCS’s #FutureNow virtual conference emphasises how engineering and construction companies can embrace and fast-track their digital transformation journey.

RIB CCS, the leading supplier of specialised software solutions to the engineering and construction industry, is hosting its first ever #FutureNow virtual conference on 11 November 2020, addressing the challenges and benefits associated with the adaptation, digitisation and transformation of the built environment.

Digital transformation and technological possibilities are changing how the business world operates, however, according to Andrew Skudder, CEO of RIB CCS, the construction industry is one of the least digitised industries, citing that this needs to change, given the current technology-first business landscape.

“The construction industry is ready for disruption, and as a pioneer in digital software technology and solutions we wanted to emphasise our commitment to the industry by imparting the knowledge that can help drive and guide the digital transformation of the industry,” he explains.

Skudder says the conference aims to tackle each stage of the transformation journey and highlight the benefits of the shift – from defining digital transformation to accepting and implementing the right technology stack.

Further, the company believes participation will be higher than if the event were to be hosted physically. RIB CCS attributes this largely to the current pandemic, the belief that people feel more comfortable in attending virtual events, and that the company’s global audience simply won’t allow for multiple conferences of this nature across various markets.

Apart from a panel discussion featuring industry leaders and peers that have successfully navigated the digital transformation journey, keynote speaker and knowledge mercenary John Sanei will delve into changing the perception of accepting, managing and embracing change to craft a better and more successful tomorrow, both from a personal and business perspective.

“The event is free to attend and is targeted at anyone in the built environment industry wanting to learn about embracing and adopting digital technology to drive better proficiencies and overall business success and continuity,” concludes Skudder.

For more information on the event and to register, kindly visit https://go.ccssales.com/futurenow.

University of Fort Hare Student Village

The largest student housing project ever undertaken by a South African public university is currently under construction at the University of Fort Hare (UFH) in the Eastern Cape. The 2 047-bed student village is being developed by student accommodation group STAG African in conjunction with East London-based contractor Dewing Construction. It aims to address a major accommodation shortage affecting UFH and create a student community conducive to academic success.

Lack of accommodation is one of the biggest challenges faced at UFH, which is home to over                        9 000 students. Currently, residences at the university’s Alice campus are barely able to accommodate 50% of the student population. With this project, the university aims to house 65% of students on campus, giving UFH the highest ratio of students to beds in the country.

“The fact that Alice and University of Fort Hare are in a rural area makes it incredibly important that the university supplies sufficient student accommodation. Fort Hare students who do not get into university residences are forced to seek accommodation elsewhere. For some, the only affordable options are far from campus, in areas with high crime rates and little infrastructure. Accommodation in these areas is not always academically conducive or well-regulated – students can find themselves housing that is over-crowded and under-serviced,” Director at STAG African, John Schooling, said.

To date, each sectional completion has been achieved on time and within budget. Phase one of the project, completed in 2014, saw 610 beds made available to the university. A further 1 437 beds have been completed in phase two, this has been funded by the Department of Higher Education and Training, the Development Bank of Southern Africa and the European Union and is valued at over R400-million.

Due to the remote location of the development in Alice, the development team faced certain logistical challenges.  “We had to be innovative in terms of finding solutions, since all of our materials were sourced from out of town. We brought in sand from the Great Fish River are, bricks from Bisho and Mount Coke, concrete, fill materials and aggregates from Fort Beaufort. Roughly 6,5-million bricks were transported from around 60 kilometres away,” Matthew Beard, Contracts Manager at Dewing Construction, said.

The development at the University of Fort Hare also contributed towards the general upliftment of Alice, surrounding towns and local residents through job creation, as well as the need for accommodation, food and other necessities. Local SMMEs were brought on board to assist, and through learning and skills development, will be positively impacted in the long term.

“One of our goals with this project was to train local employees in bricklaying, plastering, concrete works, shutter works, plumbing and scaffolding – to name a few. This type of skills development benefits our own workforce, as well as each individual who learns these skills,” said Beard.

Studies show that students who are not in on campus accommodation have a 50% chance of dropping out by the end of their first year. In contrast, a first-year student in good on-campus accommodation has an 80% chance of passing and is 50% less likely to drop out. For STAG and Dewing, good on-campus accommodation means providing more than just beds. Safety, internet connectivity, access to resources and social support, are all critical to a student’s ability to succeed.

“When a student is placed in temporary accommodation or is required to stay in accommodation that is unsafe, overcrowded and unhygienic, it’s no surprise when they can’t cope. Our goal with this development is to maximise student success through the provision of world-class accommodation, at an affordable price,” said Schooling.

The new UFH student village will also provide a dedicated postgraduate accommodation block and new student centre for studying and social events. “Over 60% of learning at the tertiary level occurs outside of a lecture hall, within the communities we create on campus – this is known as the hidden context of learning. STAG and Dewing’s vision for this development goes beyond providing accommodation; we want to create a sense of community and a feeling of belonging,” said Schooling.

One the biggest challenges faced during the development of the student village was the impact of Covid-19 and the subsequent lockdown. Construction was forced to pause for three months, which resulted in delays and changes to the building scheduled. Despite this, the development is on track for completion in December 2020.

“Following the lockdown, we implemented strict health and safety measures in accordance with Covid-19 regulations. Physical distancing, the use of face masks, and continued education are among the measures we continue to take to prevent the spread of the virus, and ensure the safety of construction workers. On a project of this magnitude, we have to put in extra effort to ensure everyone is protected from risks,” said Beard.

In terms of the bigger picture, South Africa is experiencing a student housing crisis – government has acknowledged that an additional 300 000 beds are required to accommodate the nation’s students. “A big part of this is not just a lack of beds, but also a lack of innovation. In South Africa, the construction of student accommodation cannot be purely profit-driven, we have to consider the impact on our students, who represent the nation’s future,” said Schooling.

The student village at University of Fort Hare is not only a landmark achievement, but a positive step forward in terms of addressing the national student accommodation crisis. The challenge for universities and student housing providers is to prioritise the construction of affordable, world-class student housing that uplifts all parties involved.

STAG African

STAG African have delivered more than 3 000 beds across South Africa, including the greenest residence in Africa at Stellenbosch University. They are also in the process of funding the development of 34 000 beds at universities in Kenya, 4 700 in Malawi, 5 400 in Zambia and 3 000 in Lesotho. STAG’s holistic approach to campus development is guided by principles of community, flexibility, technology, sustainability, innovation, affordability, job creation and transformation. For more information, visit www.stagafrican.com.

Dewing Construction

Established in 1981, Dewing Construction is one of the leading construction companies in the Eastern Cape. Dewing has extensive experience in retail, fuel, hotel, student accommodation, schools, motor dealerships and hospitals over the past eleven years for both private and public sectors. The company, which is a BBBEE level 1 contributor, employs over 300 employees throughout the Eastern Cape and it is their policy to support local communities and small business enterprises surrounding their projects. Dewing is an active member of the Construction Industry Development Board (CIDB), a registered as a level 9GB contractor (General building works with no limit), and a 5CE (Civil engineering works up to a contract value of R10 million). For more information, visit www.dewingconstruction.co.za.

Awards

The University of Fort Hare residence site was awarded 1st Place for Category H (R300-R500-million) of the Master Builders Association Regional Safety Competition.

 

 

Asbestos

Pandemics manifest in various ways, impacting all of us and leaving behind pain, suffering and disbelief. Not only is the coronavirus on the rampage, but Britain has in the past year experienced more than 2 000 asbestos-related deaths especially in construction related industries.

For many years, asbestos was used in almost every public and commercial building constructed before the 1980s across all continents. As a fireproofing material, it was applied on steel beams and columns during the construction of multi-storey buildings. Due to its strength, asbestos was added to concrete, asphalt, vinyl materials, roof shingles, pipes, siding, wall board, floor tiles, joint compounds and adhesives. Its heat-resistant qualities made asbestos the perfect thermal insulation material. The material was also used in acoustical plaster and as a component of a mixture sprayed on ceilings and walls. In short, it was the miracle material of the building industry.

Asbestos only becomes a hazard when it is not kept in a well-maintained state and exposed to weather conditions, or mistakenly damaged by renovators, installers, electricians, plumbers, etc. This poses a health risk to building occupants, employees, and maintenance workers due to the fine invisible fibres released into the air. If inhaled, it can penetrate into the deep gas exchange areas of the lungs. As a result of its characteristic properties, these almost chemically inert, aerodynamic and lightweight fibres cannot be removed from the lungs resulting in chronic illness and adverse, irreversible health effects. The risk is even greater, if the building is demolished, renovated, remodelled without adequate control measures in place. Repeated exposure to asbestos increases the risk of developing asbestos-related diseases with a cumulative effect.

In the Republic of South Africa, the Zondo Commission have recently untangled the corruption surrounding Asbestos in the Free State Province where a useful Asbestos Management tool was used to swindle millions out of taxpayers’ pockets. The occupants are still no closer to being rid of the silent killer in their houses.

Master Builders Association North (MBA North) facilitated various discussions and workshops with regards to the impact of the Asbestos Abatement Regulation in the construction Industry. The new Asbestos Abatement Regulation has finally been signed in Parliament and is underway to the Government printers. These regulations give guidance to all employers on the safe work management of asbestos, asbestos-containing materials and the recommended steps which need to be taken by the asbestos owner or persons employing individuals to work on asbestos.

For the first time, the Abatement Regulation calls for the owner of a building to have a document declaring that the building is free of asbestos. If asbestos is identified in the building, an Asbestos Management Plan and a Phase-out Plan for any asbestos on site is required. Banking and insurance industry are more knowledgeable on financing buildings containing asbestos owing to containing poorly maintained buildings which may be damaged extensively during heavy storms which may require repairs and pay-outs.

Before the commencement of maintenance, refurbishment, demolition of pre-existing structures or excavations where asbestos pipes / materials are found underground, the risk of potential exposure should be known and included in the management and or project plan. All hazardous chemical substances identified on the site should be removed before the dismantling and or demolition of structures is started. This asbestos work should be performed by a registered asbestos contractor and all waste which potentially contain asbestos, must be disposed of on a high hazardous (HH) waste facility.  The originator of such waste must retain a safe disposal certificate as proof thereof.

The Asbestos Abatement Regulation now also bans the use of high-pressure water jetting to clean asbestos containing materials as this may contribute to the release of debris which can lead to airborne asbestos fibres.

With the introduction of a new Regulation, the Chief Inspector of the Department of Employment and Labour pledged that the 500 newly appointed inspectors will be more proactive in enforcing the Occupational Health and Safety Act and its Regulations which includes the Asbestos Abatement Regulation.

 

 

 

Light Steel Frame Hospitals In Support Of The Fight Against The Coronavirus

By John Barnard, Director, SASFA

A total of eight projects, 39 000m2 floor area, using 1000 tons of LSF

It is easy to forget the anxiety that prevailed some six months ago when the Covid-19 infections ran rife. It was during this time that it was decided to urgently add hospital beds to existing capacities to cater for the expected exponential growth in demand for hospital facilities. The core requirement was that construction had to take place at a rate faster than what could be supplied by masonry construction. Accordingly, innovative building systems had to be considered, and light steel framing stood out as the most viable alternative.

A number of smaller hospital projects, not all related to Covid-19, was completed using light steel frame (LSF) during the first half of the year, viz

  • Niemeyer Hospital: Utrecht, KZN, client: DOH, Covid-19 related, scope: roof only, May to Aug 2020 (LSF contractor: Lakeshore Trading)
  • Sonstraal Hospital: Western Cape, client: DOH, scope: walls and roof, 1300m2 and 43t, July to Sept 2020 (LSF Contractor: Steel Modular Construction, Africa)
  • Dorris Goodwin Hospital: Client: DOH, 80m2, 1,5t, April 2020 (LSF contractor: Shospec)
  • Town Hill Hospital: Roof only, 2500m2 and 19t, Apr to Sept 2020 (LSF contractor: Shospec).
  • George Mukhari Hospital: Garankuwa, 746m2 floor area – floor joists, walls and roof. 22t of LSF used in a premanufactured panel system –10 blocks of 1 140m2 = > 63t of LSF
  • In Cape Town, LSFCo is busy with Sonstraal hospital in Paarl – 1 400m2, requiring about 47t LSF.

 

The two mega projects aimed at providing for the expected threat of Covid infections were the Jubilee field hospital in Hammanskraal (north of Pretoria), and the Baragwanath Hospital (near Soweto).

Project name: Jubilee field hospital, Hammanskraal (North of Pretoria)

Concor was the main contractor for the Jubilee Field Hospital. Futurecon was awarded the contract for the supply and erection of the LSF for the internal and external walls and roofs, clad, lined and insulated with windows installed. From 27 July 2020 they had to complete the project in 10 weeks on 27 September 2020.

The project entailed the supply of 10 000m2 of hospital wards and associated buildings, housing beds in general wards, and in high and intensive care. The foundations were supplied by Concor.

Futurecon had to hand over 1 000m2 of hospital buildings per week. And they kept to the programme, barring two weeks when they were not allowed onto the site due to disturbance caused by the local communities.

They used fibre cement external cladding, supplied by Etex Group (Marley Building Systems). OSB timber strips were used as thermal break between the external cladding and the LSF. A vapour permeable membrane was installed around the outside of the wall frames to waterproof and draughtproof the buildings, while allowing any vapour in the wall cavities to escape outwards. 102mm thick Cavity Bat glass wool insulation was installed in the wall cavities, with 15mm fireproof gypsum board on the inside, to provide a 1-hour fire rating.

The installers of the services found installation in the LSF walls very easy and quick, as there was no cutting and chasing of masonry walls required. They were able to carry out their work in tandem with the LSF project teams, speeding up the completion of the final project.

Even before this project was finished, enquiries were received to upgrade the existing Jubilee hospital, and to supply hospital buildings in sub-Saharan Africa.

Project name: Baragwanath Hospital, Soweto

The Gauteng Department of Infrastructural Development issued a project to add 500 ICU beds to Baragwanath Hospital to supply additional ICU capacity for Covid-19 patients, and thereafter to serve as a permanent extension of the hospital.

The floor area of the 20-ward expansion is 23000 m2 which includes passageways and ancillary buildings. Approximately 470 tons of LSF (20kg / m2) was supplied for the single storey extension with roof trusses spanning 27m between external walls.

Trumod was appointed as a subcontractor to Bambanani Construction, who in turn were contracted to Enza Construction for the building of the 500-bed ICU facility at Baragwanath Hospital.

Rolling and assembly of the LSF wall panels and roof strusses by Trumod started on 7 August 2020, and was essentially completed by mid-October 2020, on time, eight weeks from start – which meant delivery of LSF for 2 000m2 of floor area per week.

Trumod rolled the LSF, and assembled wall panels and trusses at their factory in Springs before delivery to site. Most of the internal walls consist of standard drywall construction, ie 63mm wide non-loadbearing drywall studs, clad with gypsum board. Trumod also supplied the profiled roof sheet for the entire project.

The Baragwanath project has been a great example of all the benefits that LSF has to offer – speed of construction, off-site fabrication which reduced the number of workers on site, accuracy, good insulation and neat finishes. Whilst the start of the project was delayed due to architectural and engineering issues, once the green light was given, Trumod managed to claw back on lost time and the project is shortly due for completion.

info@sasfa.co.za