Corobrik Is Here For The Building Industry

Following the announcement by Corobrik of the appointment of Chief Operating Officer, Nick Booth, as the new Chief Executive Officer, Booth spoke with SA Builder.

How are you settling into your new position, and what is the future of Corobrik?

I am settling into my new position well and wrapping my arms around it; leveraging my 40 years of experience in the building supply industry. My career began at Corobrik in 1980 when I started working at the factory in Stellenbosch. I returned in 2017 after gaining a holistic understanding of the building materials supply industry – not just the clay brick industry.

Over the past few months, we have done some restructuring. Due to the poor economy, the demand for bricks declined over the previous four years and Covid-19 created the urgency for the restructure. During the lockdown we closed down four factories, laying off 650 staff members.  When Level 3 allowed us to recommence manufacture, we made sure we were ready for the “new normal” in whatever form it will take. We are constantly monitoring the environment in which we are operating to adapt as needed.

Corobrik remains an important supplier for the building industry, and the demand for our products is showing signs of picking up. We have been here for the last 118 years and will be here for the next 118 years.

We continue to invest in new capacity and our plan is to reopen the closed factories as the demand increases; the first reopening will be in November 2020, with the second reopened factory planned to reach full capacity by the end of the year.

Our new factory under construction at Driefontein, which will utilise state-of-the-art technology supplied by the German company, Keller, will restart construction as soon as the easing of Covid-19 travel restrictions enables the arrival of the international experts who will oversee the construction. It is expected to be fully commissioned by mid-2021.

My new role as CEO will add value to the Corobrik team and allow the team to draw on my experience to advantage us in the marketplace

What are the current operational challenges (COVID-19, etc) Corobrik is experiencing?

Corobrik has experienced several challenges due to Covid-19. However, the organisation swiftly followed the recommended protocols, ensuring that staff understood the regulations to the letter. We have been practising social distancing in common areas, control measures in the ablution blocks and maintaining careful hygiene control. Our focus has ensured our customers are safe when they visit our premises. As our factories run 24/7, we have introduced preventative measures and controls to safeguard everyone and ensure we do not have any downtime.

There have been very few staff who suffered Covid-19, and we are delighted to advise that all have recovered. We believe this was due to our quick response to each incident and the training carried out within the whole organisation.

Going forward

The demand for our products is increasing as we were allowed to open at Level 3 which was earlier than expected, as return was originally set at Level 2. This meant that we were able to commence manufacturing and delivering of bricks in June. The bulk of our business comes from Government projects and the commercial property market. The immediate demand for bricks has been based on completion and continuation of existing projects; however, there are already signs of new projects starting up.




Metal Cladding: How To Get The Best From A Metal Roof

Published courtesy SAMCRA

In making the decision to have a metal clad roof one must remember that the most important functions of a roof cladding system (profiled cladding plus ancillary items and fasteners) is to provide a weatherproof membrane followed by aesthetic appeal, however, aesthetic appeal is invariably the governing consideration.


The first step is to choose a profile (geometric shape) from the two main categories, pierce fix or concealed (secret) fix that best suites the aesthetic and service performance requirements of the building.

 Pierce fix profiles are those where the cladding is anchored to the supporting structure by a fastener that passes through the cladding, the head of which is permanently exposed. Corrugated and box rib are the most common forms of pierce fix profiles. These profiles are not suitable for flat roofs (less than 5°) generally it is recommended that corrugated be limited to a minimum slope of 10° and 7,5° for box rib.

The length of individual sheets is limited to between 10 to 13m due to transport constraints. This, however, eliminates the need to provide for thermal movement. We strongly recommend that both side and end laps be sealed with a reinforced butyl based sealer strip and that side laps are stitched as per manufacturer’s recommendations.

Concealed fix profiles have unique anchoring devices which are contained within the profile and are therefore not exposed to the elements. They also allow for unrestricted thermal movement of the cladding. These profiles can be used on slopes as low as 2°, moreover, they can be rolled on site thereby eliminating the need for end laps. These profiles should never be end lapped which means they are not suitable for in-plane rooflights.

An often overlooked component of cladding systems are the flashings, most leaks emanate from undersized and/or poorly fitted flashings. Whilst the basic design of flashings is universal to all profiles their dimensional proportions vary considerably and we recommend the cladding manufacturer’s standard designs for the respective profiles be adhered to. The two flashings that cause the most problems are the valley and counter flashings. Valley flashings are to have a return, similar to that on a counter flashing, along the full length of their longitudinal outside edges which are overlapped by the cladding, this is necessary to eliminate the formation of a capillary siphon.

Counter flashings have to be independent from head and sidewall flashings, the reason for this is the differential thermal movement between the flashing attached to the cladding and the counter flashing which is anchored into masonry. Under no circumstances is the counter flashing to be mechanically connected to any other flashing.

A similar situation arises with gable and barge flashings on concealed fix systems where sliding connections are required for the attachment of the flashing to the roof cladding. Sliding connections are also required for the attachment of headwall and ridge flashings. Most manufacturers of concealed fix cladding systems supply matching sliding connectors. Under no circumstances are paint-on membranes to be used as a substitute for metal flashings.

Fasteners are to be in accordance with the cladding system manufacturer’s specification and the requirements of SANS 1273 which requires that the durability of the coating on the fasteners and washers, together with that of the sealing gasket, is equal to or better than that of the cladding.


The second step is to choose the material from which the cladding is to be roll-formed together with the finish, ie metallic or colour coated. Traditionally metal cladding is formed from metallic coated steel and less frequently from aluminium, stainless steel, titanium zinc or copper, all of which perform differently in a given environment. With coated steel there is a choice between galvanised and 55% aluminium / zinc (ZincAL, Zincalume, etc) both with a colour-coated option with finishes ranging from 30% gloss to matt and textured. Aluminium is also available with a 30% gloss painted finish.

Whilst galvanised is the cheapest option, it is, with a few exceptions, the most vulnerable to corrosion both from the environment and rainwater runoff from other metallic, painted or glazed (including glass and plastics) surfaces, whereas the 55% aluminium / zinc is vulnerable in highly acidic and alkaline environments (pH less than 4 and greater than 9), plus areas of intensive animal farming together with runoff from copper or lead.

All coated steel products must not be in direct contact with stainless steel, copper or lead. Please note that metallic coatings are available in a range of thicknesses and that in general durability is proportional to thickness, ie the thicker the coating, the longer the corrosion protection. When selecting the base material it is vitally important to consider both the macro (area or region as a whole) and micro (adjacent area surrounding a building) environments. Under no circumstances are solar heaters and PV panels to be installed on uncoated galvanised surfaces.


An important aspect that is regularly overlooked is maintenance, particularly in coastal and highly polluted areas where the regular washing, on a quarterly basis, of surfaces not washed by rainfall is necessary to preserve the protective coatings and compliance with warrantee conditions. We recommend an annual inspection of roofs to check the condition of the surface, attachment of flashings and in the case of pierce fix systems, the condition of the fasteners and their sealing gaskets. In all cases, the regular removal of debris is important as plastics and vegetative matter block drainage systems. In addition, accumulated vegetative matter accelerates corrosion of surface coatings, including painted ones.


In order to ensure the best performance from a cladding system, we strongly recommend that it is installed by a competent, well-trained and experienced roofing contractor. A good starting point is to establish if a prospective contractor is approved by the manufacturer of the chosen system.

SA Builder Report

My tenure as editor at SA Builder began with the resignation of industry stalwart and ex-editor John Thome in early 2020, and coincided with the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic and the various level lockdowns, in which the construction industry ground to a halt, took a dive, and negatively affected the revenue of SA Builder.

Mention must be made of the cancellation of different industry conferences and events due to the rise of physical distancing, leading to meetings and discussions in the virtual realm on Zoom and Microsoft Teams, as well as the global trend of working from home and the shaky movement to a post-pandemic world.

These webinars spotlighted viral containment measures on construction sites, as well as what to do with persons under investigation of suspected Covid-19 infection; cleaning and disinfecting of construction work spaces, and insights into the mechanism and biological implications of the novel viral pandemic. Working at height webinars offered valuable tips to industry role-players.

Additional challenges in the industry included ways in which companies could avoid business rescue and closure, the slow pace of public sector infrastructure investment pre and during the pandemic, the shortage of effective PPE equipment, inflation of PPE prices, “Covid-19 red tape”, the comprehension of regulations which changed on a sometime daily basis, and the hastened uptake of hygiene and social distancing measures in general and on work sites, with masks, gloves, disinfectant and temperature readings.

Positive actions included Government injection of cash into small and medium-sized businesses, and the re-evaluation of general value systems due to the pandemic.

President Ramaphosa’s anti-corruption drive is a beacon of hope but its effectiveness remains to be seen. Issues of sub-standard cement and steel remain in the construction industry but mitigative measures have been put in place.

The move of SA Builder from print to digital has been relatively smooth, with average download figures of 5 500 at the beginning of the year rising to 6 000+ in the latter months, newsletter readership remaining steady at 4 600 per month, and website views averaging 2 600 monthly.

Despite the downward economic curve, lockdown restrictions have been eased and the economy looks set for a staggered upward trajectory. Cautious optimism remains the industry buzzword. Although John Matthews’ tenure as President draws to a close, his regular monthly commentary has injected optimism and direction into what has often seemed like rough seas.

Our monthly focus on the different MBA SA regional branches has thrown light on the how the organisation is galvanised by the sum of its parts.

What follows is a month by month summary of SA Builder articles from October 2019 to August 2020.

October 2019

  • Rebuilding of trust between Government and private sector – Patricia de Lille at MBAWC
  • Collaborative training on mitigating injuries in the workplace
  • 144 Oxford project
  • Heritage rehabilitation of National Council of Provinces building in Cape Town
  • SAISC Steel Awards 2019

November 2019

  • Master Builders KwaZulu-Natal Annual Awards 2019
  • Lack of quantity surveyors In Government departments leading to Infrastructure budget misspending
  • Infrastructure investment by Corobrik
  • Insights into inner-city trends from TUHF’s conference
  • SA cement makers get tough with sub-standard supplies
  • Inclusionary elements of housing policies

December 2019

  • The importance of hiring a professional designer
  • Paragon Group emerges a winner at the Gauteng Institute for Architecture (GIfA) 2019 Awards
  • Psychological benefits of colour in office design

January 2020

  • Uptick in building activity in Q4, but constraints remain
  • MBA North seminar on fall arrest and temporary works
  • Ownership of unfixed materials in a building contract explained
  • ASPASA lobbies government to crack down on ill-conceived borrow pits

February 2020

  • SONA – President Ramaphosa emphasises shifting state expenditure from debt servicing to infrastructure
  • Arresting mafia gangs the first step to reviving construction Industry
  • ISO 20887 brings sustainability to buildings and civil engineering works
  • Q&A with Ntombifuthi Ntuli, South Africa Wind Energy Association (SAWEA) CEO

March 2020

  • 21-Day lockdown – what businesses need to know
  • MBA North AGM 2020: Weathering rough patches but overcoming them
  • Profile of Wayne Albertyn, President, MBA North
  • Corobrik: importance of right building materials so that funds can be allocated to new projects rather than maintenance
  • Clay brick contributes to SA’s socio-political and architectural legacy

April 2020

  • Call for the designation of construction sector as essential service
  • Aurecon assists Government with national Covid-19 response
  • Finance Minister Tito Mboweni paints a sobering picture of economy in Budget Speech
  • Concrete Institute’s School of Concrete Technology: concrete Industrial floors need special skills

May 2020

  • MBA President John Matthews: SA in holding pattern
  • Construction sector welcomes easing of lockdown under Level 3
  • Rope masterclass incorporating two separately secured rope systems
  • Q&A With Njombo Lekula, MD at PPC RSA

June 2020

  • Focus on Master Builders East Cape
  • Compliance with regulations and equipment specifications are vital for working at height
  • Covid-19 OHS compliance in the construction sector

July 2020

  • Focus on Master Builders KZN
  • Guidance on deep cleaning of workplaces
  • Unpacking the supplementary budget speech
  • AfriSam looks forward to the role it can play in rebuilding our beautiful country

August 2020

  • Focus on Master Builder Free State
  • Risk assessments for construction sites
  • Future-ready jointless flooring In South Africa
  • Focus on The Institute for Work at Height


SA Builder’s annual mandate is to disseminate relevant information to the construction industry, with a view to bolstering the agency of the MBSA and its affiliate membership; MBA regional branches and membership, public service departments and industry associations.

SA Builder’s formidable digital presence at contains current and archival issues, and its readership is further informed with industry news articles and monthly newsletters.

SA Builder, founded in 1923, is the official journal of Master Builders South Africa, and is published by Malnor (Pty) Limited on behalf of MBSA. The magazine is distributed to all members of the Master Builders Associations in South Africa as well as to the Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB), which includes architects, structural engineers, quantity surveyors, small, medium and large contractors, sub-contractors and builders’ merchants.

SA Builder maintains close relationships with industry bodies, institutes and associations, as well as with Government departments and organisations, such as the Department of Public Works, the Department of Labour, the Construction Industry Development Board (CIDB), the Association of South African Quantity Surveyors (ASAQS), the SA Institute for Steel in Construction (SAISC), the SA Forum of Civil Engineering Contractors (SAFCEC), SA Institute for Civil Engineering (SAICE), and university construction education hubs such as University of Pretoria and Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU), among others.

MBA North announces winners of 2020 safety competition

On 18th September 2020, the Master Builders Association North (MBA North) announced the winners in its prestigious annual safety competition, which recognises best practice in construction site safety. Awards were given in nine categories. The formal Safety Competition Awards Ceremony did not take place this year in order to comply with COVID-19 regulations.

“Despite the fact that this year’s Master Builders South Africa (MBSA) National Safety Competition was cancelled, our members asked us to go ahead with the regional safety audits. This year, health and safety (H&S) is obviously very much top of mind for everyone,” says Gerhard Roets, Health & Safety Manager- MBA North. “However, in the end, the turmoil caused by COVID-19 resulted in only 26 entries being submitted; a 61% drop compared to last year despite the fact that entry was complimentary to MBA North and Federated Employers’ Mutual Assurance members.”

The key criterion used in judging entries was the company’s commitment and investment in H& S rather than project size. Entries were submitted from several major players in the industry, all of which have confidence in MBA North to assess their H&S compliance. Entries were also received from smaller companies (including home builders) for project values of less than R15 million.

The auditors used the MBSA Occupational Health & Safety Audit System during the judging, and added questions to the audit system to monitor and evaluate the companies’ compliance with COVID-19 protocols.

“Because it attracts entrants from across the construction industry, the competition is playing a vital role in building a safety culture that benefits everybody involved,” says Roets. “We look forward to a bigger field of entries next year, and to the continuation of the MBSA National Safety Competition. MBA North congratulates the winners for their consistent commitment to Health and Safety.”

Category A—Plant and Storage Yards

First: Tiber Construction (Village Deep Plant Yard)

Second: Gothic Construction (Plant Yard)

Category B—Allied trades

First: Form-Scaff (Polokwane Yard)

Second: Form-Scaff (Nelspruit Yard)

Third: Viva Formwork & Scaffolding (Nooitedacht Yard)

Category C—Less R15m

First: Giuricich Bros Construction (Distell Wadeville Amarula Cellar)

Category DR15m to R40m

First: Belo & Kies Construction (Houghton Estate)

Second: G.D. Irons Construction (Mandela Presidential Centre)

Category E R40m to R100m

First: WBHO Construction (93 Grayston Square)

Second: Tri-Star Construction (Riverside View RDP)

Third: Tri-Star Construction (Kempton Park Square Phase 2)

Category FR100m to R250m

First: WBHO Construction (SAB Mariachi)

Second: WBHO Construction (Irene Link Building)

Third: WBHO Construction (CocaCola Beverages Warehouse Extension)

Category GR250m to R450m           

First: Tiber / ISF Joint Venture (100 Grayston Drive – Investec Refurb)

Second: WBHO Construction (Woodland Altron)

Third: WBHO Construction (Castle Gate)

Category IR750m PLUS       

First: Tiber Construction (ACSA Western Precinct)

Second: G.D. IRONS construction (Steyn City Centre 1 – Phase 3)

Sub-contractor (without site establishment)   

First: Viva Formwork & Scaffolding (DSV Warehouse)

Second: Presto Electrical (Steyn City Centre 1-Phase 3)


Technology is disrupting the way we design, build, and operate buildings.

Autodesk and WorldsView are hosting CWx Africa – a virtual event taking place on 22 and 23 September. The Converged Workflow Experience (CWx) comprises four tracks dedicated to the digitization of workflows in each of the Build, Infrastructure, Manufacturing and PEM (Process, Energy & Mining) segments. Executives from technology users, resellers and vendors will showcase, challenge, discuss and share insight into digitalized workflow successes and challenges in Africa. The breadth of technological change in the construction industry is broadening and the pace is accelerating. Technology is disrupting the way we design, build, and operate buildings. Today’s building projects necessitate ‘BIM thinking’ to meet the ever-increasing needs of multi-discipline project teams.

Population growth, rapid urbanisation and the hunger for a better life is accelerating the demand for great products and infrastructure in Africa. According to Carel Rootman, Technical Vice-President of Worldsview Technologies: “Increasing the use of integrated, digitalized workflows is key to meeting these growing demands on the construction industry.” “A forum where stakeholders from multiple disciplines in the build segment share and exchange insight, successes and challenges will assist in accelerating the use of integrated, digitalized workflows.” continues Rootman.

By securing key industry players and customers who are using technology to solve interesting construction challenges, Autodesk, in collaboration with Worldsview Technologies, have launched such a forum. It is the Converged Workflow Experience or CWx Africa – Customer.

“We are really excited by attendees learning about how real industry challenges are solved through workflow digitalization and by being part of Autodesk’s contribution to solving African construction challenges.” concludes Rootman.

This event is recommended for Build segment stakeholders who can benefit by gaining valuable insight into digitalized workflow, ‘BIM thinking’ and meeting the growing construction demands in Africa. Autodesk is a global leader in 3D design, engineering, and entertainment software and Worldsview Technologies is a leading market-making distributor of technology solutions.

Further information and free registration is available at

Construction transport safety vital to reduce R352m spend

South Africa has one of the worst overall motor vehicle accident (MVA) rates in the world, according to the latest World Health Organization’s road safety report published in 2018. The report revealed that there are around 1 million accidents per year and 31.9% fatalities per 100 000 people.

Deon Bester, Occupational Health and Safety Manager at Master Builders Association Western Cape (MBAWC) says that according to Federated Employers Mutual Assurance Company (RF) (Pty) Ltd (FEM) – the workmen’s compensation insurer for the building industry – 929 of these accidents per year involved people working within the construction industry. “While this may seem low, the cost per accident is detrimental.”

“FEM’s latest statistics that show the total number of vehicle crashes in the construction industry amounted to 4 602 from January 2015 to December 2019, which cost a whopping R 351 945 735.00 with 66 883 workdays lost,” he adds.

In order to address health and safety issues, FEM started a campaign several years ago called ‘Safetember’ which was targeted at reducing the high number of accidents with the focus of the first campaign being on motor vehicle accidents (MVAs) in the construction industry. “The campaign was aimed at making policyholders more aware of the current situation and sought to find ways to address the problem. This campaign now encapsulates all the health and safety issues related to construction, including the MVAs which account for around 10% of all injuries related to construction work,” said Bester.

He points out that an industry that is currently experiencing one of its worst downturns, with limited work available, can ill afford to spend almost R352 million on accidents that are avoidable according to the statistics provided by FEM. “The cost of implementing measures to mitigate these accidents are negligible compared to the cost of these accidents – even before taking into account the loss of life. In many instances, the person who loses his or her life is the main breadwinner in a home.”

These numbers are quite high considering the type of legislation South Africa has in place, both governing the use of public roads and the Construction Regulations of 2014, says Bester. “The allowable method of the transportation of workers in the back of a goods vehicle (‘bakkie’) is very clearly described in the legislation and, as such, enforcement of this legislation remains one of the fundamental issues.”

This legislation essentially means that you are not allowed to carry people in a goods vehicle such as a bakkie or truck unless there is a barrier high and strong enough to prevent them from falling out during an accident. If seated, the barrier must be at least 350mm and if standing it must be at least 900mm high. Any tools or goods must be carried in such a way that they cannot fly around and injure the passengers during an accident.

“My own experience while travelling on our major highways is that it is rare to see one of these vehicles that fail to meet the safety guidelines being pulled off the road by law enforcement officials,” adds Bester. “It is my contention that there needs to be a specialised licensing procedure for anyone who transports employees in the load bay of a bakkie. This would go far to make the drivers aware of the dangers they pose to the persons seated on these vehicles and should help reduce the high number of accidents currently experienced in the industry.”

Contractors have no,  or very little, control over what happens on the highways and Bester believes that they are relying on the traffic law enforcement officers to police the vehicles being used to transport workers. He goes on further to say that it is important to understand that transporting employees on open vehicles is and will always be part of the industry in South Africa.

Current information shows that the main causes of accidents in the construction industry are due to speeding, drivers not taking into consideration the load on the vehicle, overloading of vehicles, unroadworthy vehicles and incompetent drivers.

Bester concludes by saying that: “We need to accept that the status quo will not change in the foreseeable future, employees will continue to be transported on open vehicles, it is how we manage it into the future that will determine our success in reducing motor vehicle accidents.”


The renewable energy sector and its stakeholders will be gathering on the Windaba 2020 Virtual Marketplace platform, 26 to 27 October 2020, to unpack the role of the industry in the Energy Transition, for the decade ahead.

 “The drive towards renewable energy in South Africa remains a high priority for government’s economic recovery plans, making this year’s Windaba especially relevant to the sector,” said Ntombifuthi Ntuli, CEO of the South African Wind Energy Association (SAWEA).

The decision to go virtual for Windaba 2020 is due to COVID- 19 restrictions and the event is making use of state-of-the-art Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology, to match buyers and sellers; to offer in-built video-conferencing capabilities; as well as the ability to live stream content to the platform and pre-recorded content too.

“This digital platform means a greater international reach, as delegates can log-in to the platform and the conference with ease.  Hence, we are anticipating over 400 delegates, in addition to around 2000 participants on the Virtual Marketplace,” added Ntuli.

Local and international thought leaders will lead discussions on pertinent issues that will guide the sector’s ability to unpack the evolution of green power.  The programme highlights germane topics such as Jobs and Skills; Land issues in Wind Energy Development; Wind & Energy Storage; Local Supply Chain Development; Balancing environmental constraints with energy developmental imperatives; Wake Loss Effects and IRP 2019: What it means for SA Energy Costs, and other key matters.

The conference has been preceded by a series of industry webinars, focussing on topical issues. The series, which launched in May 2020, has received an overwhelmingly positive response, inviting dynamic engagement from sector participants.

Speaking about the virtual platform, Tracy Gounden, Portfolio Director at Messe Frankfurt, explained, “We have found these platforms to be very sophisticated from an AI matchmaking perspective, as well as offering greater brand awareness for sellers that benefit from qualified leads.  Additionally, the format allows  for a much wider reach and more diverse audience, so much so, that it is likely that future conferences will be a hybrid of a live event, coupled with an online platform running simultaneously.”

Windaba 2020 Virtual Marketplace, will feature a full online conference programme, virtual exhibition and an online business platform that will facilitate the Renewable Energy sector and its various stakeholders to engage in one-on-one meetings. The platform will also enable access to key content about the latest industry developments and track latest bids and opportunities in the marketplace.

Windaba is the flagship industry conference of SAWEA; as well as being supported by the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC), having launched its inaugural conference ten years ago.  The annual event brings together key stakeholders including professionals, policymakers, academics, civil society and government representatives.  It aims to facilitate strengthened partnerships for the on-the-ground implementation of renewable energy projects, to influence energy policy, and provide a framework to aid strategic decision-making.

PrīmX – Future Ready Jointless Flooring In South Africa

Concrete is one of the most frequently used building materials but has remained mostly unchanged. Traditional
concrete is cement, stone, and sand, sometimes reinforced with mesh. Strong in compression but weak in tension. Concrete is prone to shrinkage, cracking, and curling, resulting in significant maintenance budgets for
warehousing facilities.

Welcome to the world’s first FUTURE READY JOINT LESS FLOOR!

SA Builder met Brett Meadway – Primekss Technical Sales Manager in South Africa, and got the insight on the flooring technology that, as he says, “will raise the design and execution methods of concrete slabs to a completely new level.”

How did your journey in PrīmX start?

Primekss, based in Latvia, EU, is the inventor and patent holder of the world’s first truly jointless concrete technology PrīmX, well known since 1997. The Company however, had a modest beginning as a specialist flooring covering (epoxy and other) company, but after some period customers complained about the quality of the finish due to the concrete below the coating failing again and again. So, they started to search for the reason…

It was clear that traditional concrete cracks and curling were due to the drying shrinkage impacting the coating that we would add. And, what started out as an effort to understand, how to improve the concrete base on which the coatings would be applied, turned into a complete focus, research and business model on how to reduce and eliminate the negative effects of shrinkage in concrete slabs.

At the same time, throughout the 1990s, steel fibre reinforced concrete (SFRC) started becoming popular in
Europe through the life work of Mr Xavier Destrée, ir. FACI. R. and D, Structural consultant, ARCELORMITTAL.
SFRC has provided a major improvement in crack control and curling and has been adopted by Primekss and it
became a commercial success in Northern Europe. While Primekss was able to control cracking and curling more
effectively, the concrete still suffered from shrinkage.

Later Primekss secured research support from the EuropeanUnion (in 2007) to address the key issue of SFRC: shrinkage. In collaboration with academics from Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Belgium and Latvia was developed a new revolutionary shrinkage controlling concrete system – the first version of what is now known as PrīmX. Very soon the worldwide patent was achieved and thus opened the opportunity for Primekss to significantly widen the

PrīmX is now selling its technology in over 25 countries. Until now, more than 15 million square metres of PrīmX
floors have been casted. PrīmX unique system has been awarded with various industry awards and is one of very
few technologies receiving four Most Innovative Products (MIP) Awards, issued during world’s largest concrete
industry event – World of Concrete in Las Vegas, USA.

So, when I was invited to join the company and open it tothe South African market, I welcomed the offer without
much hesitation. This opportunity not only allows me to connect my family in Latvia with my relatives here in South
Africa, but also gives the possibility to build a better future for my four children.

I profoundly respect Primekss’ core value – sustainable development. Climate change is no longer an issue for the
future but a reality of our present day. To help avoid the climate crisis, we need to act now and use more advanced
technologies to save our world. Cement manufacturing itself is responsible for more than 7% of global CO2
emissions, which is why PrīmX is so important – with better materials and optimized design, we significantly reduce the environmental footprint – on average saving 40% of CO2 compared to traditional concrete solutions.

Was it easy to launch the business here?

Not at all! This was a major challenge at the outset – PrīmX entered the South African market in 2014, when steel fibre reinforced concrete had just started to be introduced. It took a lot of time and energy to market Primekss high
performance SFR concrete with a focus on reducing shrinkage through addition of special additives, careful mix
design optimisation and quality control through the whole production process to ensure confidence in our system.

The only thing we source locally is the raw materials for the 30 MPa readymix – concrete stone, sand, and cement.
However, it is vital to maintain a high degree of concrete consistency and cooperation with local ready-mix suppliers
to provide a reliable and predictable standard for PrīmX.

It was a real problem before I got to know Pronto Building Materials, which is now our main supplier in SA. Fortunately, with Pronto, we were able to obtain a quality washed crushed sand as well as a washed natural river sand filler.

All cement and aggregate samples are shipped to Riga, to our Primekss lab where concrete engineers analyse the raw
materials for their reactivity with our admixtures. None of PrīmX admixtures are sourced locally as they all are under
strict patent review and we manufacture and deliver them from Europe, Latvia.

Even traditional SFRC concrete is available. What is the difference and advantage of PrīmX?

Well, that is easy to answer. Traditional concrete floor specification will be required for a standard 30MPa mix
supplied daily by a readymix plant without any specific effort to address shrinkage. The traditional solution is
limited to 30x30m (900m2) jointless panels and, depending on the load requirements (e. 75 KN btb 150 KN), a slab of 180mm could be constructed.

If the shrinkage is not addressed, 100m of joints will begin to open within months of casting and begin to curl, eventually leading to severe joint damage. Pretty soon the client willstart to have huge maintenance expense to repair 100s of metres of joints and damaged equipment, not to mention significantly higher hazard risk at the workplace.

Instead of that, PrīmX is limited only by day joints, saving 100s of metres of joint damage and allowing for a load
requirement of 75 kN btb 150 kN on a 90mm slab.

As a PrīmX floor doesn’t require additional reinforcement with mesh, construction time for the same size of a slab
is approximately 30% shorter. Imagine how much can a project manager do with an extra month or so?

With no curling and controlled shrinkage PrīmX floors when cast flat, stays flat for its lifetime, saving a lot of time and money for maintenance. Well managed quality control on site, with a backup support from an experienced concrete engineering team in Primekss lab, offers a predictable, consistent quality no matter where the project is located.

How is a consistent quality achieved?

The success of the PrīmX slab relies on full on-site supervision by a professional team. My job is to ensure
that Primekss local partner is qualified to meet all the requirements of PrīmX. All factors, impacting the quality
of the final result are captured on-line via PrīmX’s own quality control system, thus we can monitor and react to
any changes very quickly.

Can you tell more about the current projects you are working on?

Despite the lockdown this year for PrīmX South Africa has been very intense. I can highlight, as an example, these two projects:

KIT KAT Distribution centre, Pretoria West, 14000m2
The brand Kit Kat is recognized as one of the leading brands in the FMCG industry today, and it symbolizes the trust of our customers. In 2019, PrīmX secured Phase 1 and in 2020 Phase 2. The customer required a modern high-quality slab to compliment the brands modernization. PrīmX design offered a jointless solution and a slab so strong that 90mm could handle racking load of 75 KN btb 150 kN.

DSV Logistics Warehouse, Kempton Park, 110 000m2 – is Danish transport and logistics company offering transport services globally by road, air, sea and train. Its main activities lie within road transport (trucking) networks in Europe, North America and South Africa, and its global air and sea freight forwarding business.

In 2020, this important project was secured with a PrīmX Jointless floor. The project was divided into a 31 500m2 Crossdock and a 78 000m2 Main Warehouse. The Crossdock, was designed with Primx jointless solution
for huge loading from a sorter and mezzanine and was completed in July 2020.

The Main Warehouse required the PrīmX design to handle up to 123 kN btb 246 kN racking loads, with our system toan extremely high tolerance not yet seen in South Africa. In fact, we are currently casting the Main Warehouse and
setting a record in South Africa with 10’500m2 cast every 5 days. I am proud of my local flooring partner, Chris Howes and his company CHC-SA with whom I have a partnership.”

What does Future Ready, Joint Free Floors mean?

To cope with today’s ever-changing industrial environment, everything must be flexible. The recent global pandemic has shown that dramatic change can happen instantly: production shutdowns due to infected workers, material availability challenges, changes in many processes, and the critical need for facility cleanliness.

Every aspect of an industrial facility should be designed and built to be adaptable for future challenges, including
the floors. Only jointless, saw-cut free floors allow for the true flexibility: no limitations for racking placement, easy
system replacements, true flatness in long term for fast operations, precise slab with no shrinkage movement ready
for automated robotic solutions and more. In addition to complete flexibility, the PrīmX jointless floor is 30% faster to be installed, shortens the overall construction schedule and costs, maintains full warranty (design, materials, execution) and ensures consistent high quality in each project due to the design of the system.

To get full scope of #FutureReady concrete floors and how with PrīmX technology you can reach significant increase in ROI, you are welcome to join the upcoming webinar. The Webinar is scheduled for September 22, 2020 13:00 to
14:30 GMT, in Zoom.

During the session essential long-term benefits of PrīmX high-performance flooring solutions will be highlighted.
For more information contact Brett on +27 084 837 8654 ,email, or visit



High-Speed Doors Can Increase Productivity

With companies under pressure to ensure as contactless operation as possible, automated high-speed doors are becoming a viable option. Not only does use of this type of door increase productivity, but it will allow the opening and closing function to be done without the need for personnel to touch the actual door.

This is according to Wim Dessing, Sales Executive at Apex Strip Curtains & Doors, who says there has been an increase in enquiries for these high-speed doors with interest being shown predominantly from manufacturing operations, as well companies in the storage and warehousing sector.

“High speed doors, unlike the conventional roller shutter door, are quick and easy to open, and the entire process can be automated, significantly improving productivity and importantly hygiene,” Dessing says. “Reducing unnecessary standing time for equipment and vehicles carrying goods enables companies to enhance their supply chain logistics with further knock-on benefits.”

Apex Strip Curtains & Doors is the leading local manufacturer and supplier of a wide range of door products including high speed roll-up and fold up doors, general purpose strip curtains and welding and safety screens.

Dessing emphasises that apart from the obvious cost savings another major advantage when dealing with a local manufacturer is the vastly reduced lead times.

High speed roll-up and fold-up doors are suitable for a wide variety of applications. The doors do not hinder personnel, forklift or vehicular traffic.

The Sector high speed roll-up door, manufactured by Apex Strip Curtains & Doors, delivers both functionality and performance. These compact doors are robust enough to cope with the intensive demands of heavy and continuous traffic and feature an integral unit incorporating the actuator, controls, safety devices and balancing systems. Sector doors are structurally flexible with transparent or coloured interchangeable panels.

The company’s range of Traffic high-speed fold-up doors offer a sturdy, dependable and modular solution for medium and large entrances such as shipment and warehouse areas, and are particularly suited to conditions where wind is a factor.

Made from strong self-extinguishing Class 2 fabric with excellent thermal insulation properties, this door has been designed to resist a wind loading of up to 50km per hour. The supporting structure is manufactured from high-quality galvanised steel to ensure optimum durability and, if the application requires it, vision windows can be incorporated in the panels.

A counterweighted balancing system ensures high standards of performance and safety. The built-in automation unit protects the components from wear caused by the elements.

The Traffic high speed doors are controlled by an electronic unit that complies with all IEC regulations. It can be activated by any type of remote control equipment including photocells, pressure sensitive mats, movement detectors or induction loops.

All Apex Strip Curtains & Doors products are manufactured in accordance with international standards using materials that comply with stringent hygiene and safety criteria.


IWH Trade Association And Professional Body

The Institute for Work at Height (IWH) was initially formed as a trade association in January 2009, being a merger of the Specialised Access Engineering Manufacturers Association (SAEMA) and the Rope Access And Fall Arrest Association (RAFAA), desirous of creating safety awareness and in turn “professionalism in the overall Work At Height Industry”. Soon other sectors of the work at height industry joined, and the seven different chambers were created.

The members all agreed that their input in the development of the necessary skills was lacking and they thus decided to apply for the registration of a Professional Body, and in November 2012, the Institute for Work at Height Professional Body received official recognition from SAQA.

Work at Height is a specialisation for other occupations to allow these occupations to work safely at elevated heights, by means of specialised equipment which include:


  • Rope access
  • Steel scaffolding
  • Access towers and ladders
  • Mobile elevating work platforms
  • Temporary suspended platforms
  • Falsework, as well as
  • Fall protection (which is generic to all work at height trades)

Working at height cuts across a large spectrum of industries such as construction, building, maintenance, electrical work, welding, telecoms and other infrastructure developments. The IWH Professional Body is in fact a key player in the training process. Having the Trade Association as its ‘bed partner’, the IWH PB is indeed ideally suited to undertake this role simply because it represents the voice of the Industry.

In its initial formation, the IWH spend a lot of time in improving all the other chambers, but Scaffolding and Falsework had its own challenges which was difficult to resolve.

Scaffolding and Falsework

The IWH started a process of assisting the scaffold and falsework industry in 2014. The challenges in this industry was unique, as the members that were experiencing problems were those who employed permanent scaffold and falsework erectors, and not those who use these structures simply for access.

Construction crews rely on scaffolders to erect sturdy platforms for them to stand on when they work on tall buildings, stadiums, bridges and other lofty structures. Some even work in the shipping, oil and mining industries so builders can construct ships, erect oil derricks and support mines. Scaffolders calculate the amount of materials they need for construction projects, such as the wood and steel support tubes, and test the scaffolding for durability. They must also disassemble the scaffolding when projects are completed.

Scaffolding can be very dangerous and consistently results in accidents for construction workers. It has statically been noted that while falls are a major source of personal injury in the construction injury, falls from scaffolding is one of the leading reasons for a fall.

Internationally, scaffolding is being trained as a proper occupational qualification and, in some cases, as a registered trade, whilst in South Africa it was structured as short unit standard-based programmes. Although SANS 10085 indicated how the training should have been structured so that the person are trained over two to three years, inclusive of workplace experience, this was hardly checked for compliance in the industry.

The construction and various other industries have identified a need to develop a proper “scaffolding qualification” to address one of the scarce skills identified by the NSDS. Scaffolding services in South Africa have become an increasing necessity in the transformation of the country into a first world entity, with a thriving infrastructure of buildings and construction works encompassing all wet and dry trades. Scaffolding services are required for a variety of projects taking place daily in South Africa.

Various scaffolding systems provide contractors with a lot of benefits due to their increased safety, ease of assembly and dismantling of scaffolding structures. Scaffolding is a key element of the construction industry. With the use of scaffolding, structures can be constructed. Scaffolding is used to create support for formwork to be completed in building construction. Scaffolding services are also used as a support structure for workers to access parts of the permanent structure which are difficult and dangerous to reach or to perform various other tasks within or around a permanent structure.

The IWH PB is in the final stage of submitting new scaffold and falsework qualifications to the QCTO for registration, which will allow learners to develop skills required in the workplace. The generic competence will enable learners to transfer this competence to other streams of specialisation within the building and civil construction Industry.

The scaffold qualification will include proficiencies to work as a:

  • General worker
  • Scaffold hand
  • Scaffold fixer
  • Scaffold erector
  • Scaffold inspector; and
  • Scaffold supervisor

The falsework qualification will include proficiencies to work as a:

  • General worker
  • Shutter hand
  • Falsework erector
  • Class A1 falsework inspector, and
  • Falsework foreman

There is a critical need in the industry to have suitably trained people who can conduct the essential scaffolding and falsework operations associated within the industry safely and efficiently. This will lead to competence in the scaffold industry to grow the South African economy and boost much-needed job creation. It will also lead to a balanced society in that learners will understand how the work they do, fits into the greater construction industry and contributes to inclusive economic growth and social development.

 The newly developed scaffold and falsework qualifications will enhance safe working conditions and decrease the number of incidents at height. It should have a strong secondary effect on industry growth by professionalising the environment and enhancing skills of unskilled labourers, thus increasing employability in the country through the correct behaviour in the industry enhancing safety and creating employment.

For more information you are welcome to email the CEO, Dr Alti Kriel, at