South African Concrete Organisations demystified
The roles of the three concrete industry organizations in South Africa, CSSA, The Concrete Institute and CMA, are often blurred, especially as they all have similar names and share the common goal of ensuring the optimum use of concrete in the built environment. However, they have specific target audiences, objectives and initiatives that differentiate them. We hope to shed some light on the unique characteristics of each of these three bodies.
Concrete Society of Southern Africa NPC (CSSA)
The Concrete Society of Southern Africa NPC (CSSA) is a non-profit, public benefit organisation that promotes excellence and innovation in the use of concrete and related products and services through a concrete ‘community’. Membership is open to any individual with an interest in concrete and CSSA provides a forum for networking and technology transfer between its members. Company membership is also available in a range of categories from Bronze to Platinum.
Each of the Society’s four branches has its own annual calendar of events. These include technical meetings and seminars where information is disseminated amongst members and serious networking can take place amongst the delegates. Where projects of interest are in progress, site visits are arranged to enable members to see concrete in action.
All events on the Concrete Society’s programme of meetings and seminars have been granted CPD approval by ECSA and carry a unique CPD identification number for registered professionals. Appropriate seminars also carry accreditation by the architects’ professional body SAIA.
The CSSA also organises a variety of social events. The concrete boat race day, cube competition, action cricket, golf days and year-end functions provide ample time for social interaction and further networking.
Every second year the CSSA hosts the prestigious ‘Fulton Awards’ to honour excellence in concrete construction. The awards have, for over 30 years, recognised southern Africa’s major concrete projects. On a branch level there are also the ‘Concrete Achiever Award’ and ‘Chairman’s Award’ which are presented to the individual or team of a particular project or initiative worthy of recognition.
The Society is an International partner with the American Concrete Institute and a registered Voluntary Association with ECSA with whom CSSA members qualify for special benefits.
The Concrete Institute
Most of the 45 publications currently in print can be downloaded from the website free of charge. The 9th edition of Fulton’s Concrete Technology, the definitive handbook on concrete, is available for sale.
The Institute’s School of Concrete Technology (SCT) offers professional courses at different levels of concrete theory and application. The portfolio ranges from basic introductory courses to the internationally recognised Advanced Concrete Technology course. Training is offered in Midrand, Cape Town, Durban, and Port Elizabeth and, subject to demand, can be arranged at venues anywhere in southern Africa. Professional advisory and consulting services are provided for private and public sector clients. Consulting can take the form of advice, verification or investigation and Institute engineers are available for consultation by telephone, at its offices or on construction sites anywhere in southern Africa. General technical advice is available through the free advisory service.
Concrete Manufacturers Association (CMA)
The Concrete Manufacturers Association is the primary representative of the precast concrete industry. Now in its 42nd year, it initiates standards in close cooperation with STANSA and collaborates with its members in developing new products and services.
The cost-effective and correct application of precast concrete product is a prime objective and the Association’s promotional activities target architects, engineers, developers, contractors and property owners through its two operational pillars, Precast Building and Precast Infrastructure.
Although the maintenance of minimum product standards is an important CMA function, its prime focus is on ensuring that its members’ products are applied correctly. A CMA mark serves as a guarantee of quality and the CMA takes responsibility should a problem arise.
Members are encouraged to hold an accredited product certification such as the relevant SANS standard or to manufacture to specifications laid down by the CMA. Should a problem arise the CMA will carry out an investigation, and, if the product does not conform to the required standard, the member company is obliged to rectify the situation. Research is an important CMA function. For instance, the Association has been running an ongoing programme at Virginia, Free State, to assess the durability/performance of different concrete materials in aggressive sewer environments.
Another initiative was the introduction of the CMA Roofing System in 2004 which foreshadowed a surge in the use of concrete roof tiles for low-cost housing. Similarly, the Association has made a significant contribution to the provision of subsidy housing by offering CAD-based architect-designed plans for a 40m² house built with modular masonry. Down the years the CMA has published numerous manuals, brochures and audio visuals on the practical application of precast concrete and this material is available at a nominal charge. It also runs refresher courses and holds seminars to introduce new technology and methodology, often featuring overseas experts.
Contact executive director, Wally Armstrong, on Tel. 011 805 6742 or visit www.cma.org.za