Concrete bodies collaborate to produce The Concrete Conference (TCC)
For the first time ever, the Concrete Society (CSSA), The Concrete Institute (TCI), the Southern Africa Readymix Association (SARMA) and the Concrete Manufacturers Association (CMA) partnered to organise a unique conference focused on concrete and concrete-related matters.
Bitterly cold weather and strong winds did not diminish the enthusiasm of the delegates at TCC which was held recently at the Misty Hills Conference Centre in Muldersdrift.
Starting proceedings at the conference, Johan van Wyk, Director of SARMA stated that the intention of The Concrete Conference was to bring the industry together in a unique way to discuss and address the changing construction landscape alongside new techniques and technological advancements.
“The inaugural Concrete Conference establishes a new direction and is the only event of its kind dedicated to concrete,” Johan said.
“Our slogan for The Concrete Conference 2017 is ‘Just mix it’,” Johan concluded, “and that sums it up perfectly. This is more than a conference: it’s an invaluable platform for cooperation among public and private sector stakeholders in addressing the needs of our rapidly changing industry.”
Johan then introduced Richard Tomes, until very recently, Chairman of The Concrete Institute, who officially opened the conference on behalf of the anchor sponsors of the event, AfriSam, Lafarge, PPC and Sephaku. Richard said that it was encouraging to see the various concrete bodies in the industry working together in this way as it was becoming increasingly important to work to a common goal, for the good of the industry.
Some 300 visitors attended to listen to “Prospects for the Construction industry, presented by David Metelerkamp, Economist from Industry Insight.
The forecast for the industry is not good over the next 18 – 24 months, with growth in civil and building work staying flat over this period. There will be, however, some nodes of growth provincially, according to Metelerkamp.
Key issues were:
- Worrying number of civil projects either postponed or cancelled
- Disconnect between tenders and awards
- Slow pace of projects rolled out by State Owned Enterprises
- Severe lack of business and consumer confidence
- Technical recession
- Rating downgrade could lead to less infrastructural spending
- Changing dynamics - major shift from large contracts to smaller
Next up a unique panel involving executives from the professional construction bodies - the South African Forum of Civil Engineering Contractors (SAFCEC), South African Institution of Civil Engineering (SAICE) and Consulting Engineers South Africa (CESA) discussed concrete possibilities in the current economic climate.
After a few words from each representative, there was a lively question time from the floor. Aspects discussed included:
- Public private partnerships – were they increasing?
- How can the Chinese come into the country and quote so low for contracts?
- What do members expect of their various institutions and industry bodies?
- Clarification of the litigation by Voluntary Associations against ECSA
- Is the value of pricing still relevant in winning tenders?
Michael Jackson is today internationally sought after for his knowledge and expertise in ‘change’ in the business context.
He began by stating that doing more of what we have done is no longer going to work in modern business. He proceeded to explain why, and concluded that business must find new ways of working.
In his words: “the more things change, the quicker they change”.
The afternoon session on day one, chaired by Frans Minnaar from CMA, covered the fascinating topic of high-performance concrete. This session began with a presentation entitled ‘Myths and truths about high performance concrete’, by Prof Hans Beushausen from UCT. This was a real eye-opener for many, and went along way to dispel the myth that high-performance did not necessarily mean high-strength alone.
The presentations that followed then considered precast, structural and readymix high-performance concrete, and were presented by Jason Roberts, Heinrich Stander and Hannes Engelbrecht respectively.
Day one culminated in the SARMA Readymix Awards and a gala dinner with entertainment by comedic motivator Gino Fabbri.
Day two’s session, (chaired by John Sheath from CSSA), comprised six case studies, including five from the Concrete Society’s 2017 Fulton Awards (both commendations and winning entries). The projects covered were:
- Pacaltsdorp Pedestrian Bridge (Fulton Commendation) by John Anderson from SMEC Consulting Engineers
- Mndwaka Rubble Masonry Dam (Fulton Commendation) by Brendan Croney (AfriSam) and David Cameron-Ellis (ARQ Consulting Engineers)
- V & A Waterfront Precast Parking Garage (non-Fulton entry) by Niaz Ahmed from V & A Waterfront Developments
- Mount Edgecombe Interchange Upgrade (Fulton Winner) by Gert van Schalkwyk from SMEC Consulting Engineers
- Kusile Power Station Main Works (Fulton Commendation) by Mark Rencken from Stefanutti Stocks
- Integral van Zyl Spruit Bridge (Fulton Commendation) by Mike Fisher from Lafarge
In closing the conference Johan van Wyk thanked the Anchor Sponsors – AfriSam, Lafarge, PPC and Sephaku for their generous support, and the exhibitors for participating in the event. Finally, he went on to thank the staff of the four institutes/associations for their assistance in organising the conference and the delegates for their attendance. He asked that all diarise the 1st and 2nd August 2018, when The Concrete Conference is planned for next year.
For speakers presentations, interviews and CPD information visit the TCC webpage on the following link: TCC 2017 - CPD Information and Speakers Presentations
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