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Quality – The Forefront of Afrisam’s Operating Ethos

01 September 2020

Quality, more than ever before, drives decisions of customers, developers and property owners as they demand value for money, durability and the best service possible.

AfriSam, as a trusted manufacturer and supplier of construction materials, has put quality at the forefront of its technical solutions offering for the past 85 years. Quality policy guidelines underpin the leading construction materials company’s core values: People, Planet and Performance. These are the core principles on which we base a culture of customer satisfaction.

Quality cement

“AfriSam’s approach to quality cement products is well-known with a significant investment of resources in its certification to the SANS (ISO) 9001:2015 standard for quality management systems” says Alta Schoultz, technical consultant to AfriSam. All AfriSam’s cement products meet the conformity requirements of SANS 50197-1. 

Adherence to the technical specifications of ‘SANS 50197-1 Common Cements’ is continually evaluated. The SABS regulatory division inspects the manufacturing sites and their test protocols on a regular basis to sample and test the cement to ensure product conformity.

Process control test results from all AfriSam laboratories are fed into a cement-monitoring programme to observe compliance. On-going compressive strength testing, using standard reference materials, monitors the performance of Afrisam cements in concrete.

The electronic monitoring report correlates all these results and gives managers immediate access to trend analysis reports. Maintaining performance criteria depends on the instant action this kind of monitoring facilitates.

Mechanical and Chemical Testing

Mike McDonald, manager of the AfriSam Centre for Product Excellence, explains that the laboratories at its Roodepoort operation have ISO 17025 accreditation for several mechanical and chemical tests.

Accreditation confirms that AfriSam’s laboratories operate competently and generate valid results for accredited tests, thereby promoting confidence in the results.

The e-mark

All AfriSam’s cement products meet the conformity requirements of SANS 50197-1.

In addition to meeting the technical conformity criteria of SANS 50197, AfriSam’s bagged cement also carries the “e-mark” which is attained by complying with SANS 1841. This is the standard governing the control of the quantity of contents in prepacked packages within the prescriptions of the metrology legislation. AfriSam voluntarily participates in this e-mark scheme to add confidence that the mass of its bagged cement products meets the minimum quantity.

AfriSam’s long-standing relationship with SABS is an example of its policy to support and empower towards creating a positive African future. This strong and trusted collaboration with SABS contributes towards AfriSam being known as a well-respected and admired African brand. 

SABS Certification is the highest mark of standards across southern Africa, and conveys the credibility enjoyed by AfriSam’s complete range of cement, concrete and slag products.

Customer Experience

The most recent findings to emerge from AfriSam’s biannual Voice of Customer (VoC) survey clearly demonstrates that customers choose AfriSam because of its approach to quality. The survey, based on sound research principles and methodology, is conducted twice annually by Consulta, an independent company.

AfriSam takes a holistic approach to quality and ensure it provides customers with a quality experience over a number of touch points.

Ilonka de Magalhaes, AfriSam’s customer experience manager, explains the importance of accurately measuring customer experience. “AfriSam knows that quality extends beyond product quality; we take a holistic approach, ensuring that we provide our customers with a quality experience over a number of touch points: product quality, technical support, on-time delivery, and availability of product; sales staff, contact centre staff and general administration of all accounts. Our customers rate our quality as higher than any of the other key players in the industry.”

Concrete regulation and the readymix market

Whilst the cement industry is highly regulated, the readymix concrete industry is does not enjoy the same level of oversight, and  non-conformance is rife and the risks of structure failures are high. The readymix concrete market’s very low barriers to entry have resulted in unscrupulous suppliers being able to set up readymix plants at very low cost, sacrificing quality for profitability.

AfriSam is the only readymix concrete manufacturer to have both industry (SARMA) and external (SABS) accreditation.

Amit Dawneerangen, general manager of AfriSam’s readymix division, emphasises that while pressures from the subdued construction industry necessitate stringent cost control, AfriSam will never sacrifice quality or customer service. Nowhere is this more evident than in the strict adherence of AfriSam’s readymix operations to environmental protocols in the managing dust suppression and the use of recycled water.

Readymix and aggregate manufacturer of the highest standard

Significantly, AfriSam is the only readymix concrete (and aggregate) manufacturer to have both industry and external – SABS – accreditation. Many of the readymix concrete suppliers do not carry any certification nor do they subject themselves to external auditing.

In addition, AfriSam encourages a competitive operating environment, based on upholding the same standards (quality and ethics) and regulatory compliance. The company often has to defend the readymix market when a customer has “burnt his fingers” by using the cheapest option.

The Carbon Tax came into effect in June 2019 and has had a direct impact on the price of concrete. To mitigate this, AfriSam instituted focused Research & Development programmes to refine mixes, resulting in the utilisation of more reactive cement, the optimal use of supplementary cementitious materials (SCMs) and improved admixture additions without sacrificing strength or quality.

Quality beyond its frontiers – Afrisam’s Industry Footprint

The testament of AfriSam’s commitment to quality is that it goes beyond its immediate business to the extended support for initiatives that promote quality across the industry, as a whole.  AfriSam was the anchor sponsor of the prestigious Concrete Society of Southern Africa’s 2019 Fulton Awards, which celebrate excellence in concrete. It is more than significant that of the 31 finalists, 15 projects were constructed using AfriSam readymix concrete.

AfriSam works closely with tertiary institutions to support and promote research in cement and concrete.

Dr Grizelda du Toit, cement project professional, says that AfriSam not only invests in individual development of staff, but also works closely with tertiary institutions to support and promote research in cement and concrete.

Completing the quality chain for the good of the industry, AfriSam is a staunch supporter of the various industry bodies – The Concrete Institute (TCI), Concrete Society of Southern Africa (CSSA), Concrete Manufacturers Association (CMA) and the Association of Cementitious Material Producers (ACMP).

In a quest to strengthen the mandate of these bodies and to monitor crucial quality issues, AfriSam is actively advocating the consolidation initiative. This drive is currently underway to ensure that all these bodies come together as a credible service through a unified voice for the good of all stakeholders in the construction industry.

AfriSam’s Legacy

Richard Tomes, AfriSam’s sales and marketing executive, sums it up. “AfriSam celebrated its 85th birthday this year, and we would not have existed for this long if we did not uphold quality standards.”

AfriSam celebrated its 85th birthday in 2019.

Tomes adds that AfriSam has the capacity and competency to complete major projects often requiring complex and highly technical demands. This includes the company’s cement, aggregate and readymix footprint, complemented by concrete technologists with the internationally accredited Advanced Concrete Technology qualifications as well as postgraduate degrees in chemistry and various engineering disciplines. Some of the recent, and in some instances, award-winning projects, include:  ≪NOTE TO LAYOUT, PLEASE MAKE TWO COLUMNS OF THE LIST BELOW≫

  • Mall of Africa
  • The Leonardo
  • Boitekong and Rustenburg Wastewater Treatment plants
  • Mafube Colliery
  • Zeitz Mocaa
  • Saldanha Tippler
  • Discovery Head Office
  • Alice Lane
  • PWC
  • Deloitte Head Office

Quality is not an optional extra for AfriSam – it is The AfriSam Way.

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