Slow economy demands efficiency, quality in readymix

20 January 2020

With South Africa’s construction sector in the doldrums, it is vital that material suppliers get smarter.

AfriSam’s Jukskei readymix plant is doing just that, says operations manager Kevin Naidoo.

“Readymix is a high-speed game,” Naidoo says. “The poor state of the market, and the continuous entry of new players, only adds more pressure for us to be faster and better.”

He highlights that quality remains a critical factor for readymix in the construction sector, as lives depend on concrete performing as expected. This means that systems and technology should always be advancing to harness productivity while prioritising control.

Digital communication technology is among the tools that are embraced by the group. In one such application, variances in plant performance can be communicated directly to managers’ mobile phones, he says.

The state of the sector is reflected in the output from the Jukskei plant in Midrand, situated in the heartland of Gauteng’s urban economy.

“Despite the weaker demand, our standards remain high,” Naidoo says. “Customers rely on that from us.”

The increased risk of using readymix concrete suppliers without the necessary quality controls, he says, leads customers to always come back to AfriSam. All the company’s 40 readymix operations nationwide are certified for the ISO 9001 quality standard. They are also fully accredited members of the Southern Africa Ready-Mix Association (SARMA).

“This gives our customers the confidence they need in the quality of our systems and our products,” he says. “They know that our affiliations demand rigorous auditing – both internal and external – of our operations. This is vital in managing the considerable risks inherent in their projects, especially in infrastructure and large building projects.”

Among the recent high-profile projects that AfriSam has supplied are the Leonardo skyscraper in Sandton, the super-sized Mall of Africa in Midrand, the Gautrain stations and the Rea Vaya Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) bridge over Johannesburg’s M1 highway.

Managing the tight economic environment also means getting the most of operational assets, says Naidoo.

Naidoo highlights the importance of constantly checking basic elements like accurate measurement of material at the plants. With a world-class computerised batching system, the plant’s scale calibrations are conducted internally every two weeks. An external service provider also does a full range of calibration tests every month. These are all conducted within SANAS specifications.

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