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M&D Construction Group, a leading local civil-engineering construction and building specialist, has again taken proactive steps to ensure that the highest quality standards are maintained when it builds critical infrastructure for its many public- and private-sector clients.
The company’s Pipe Laying Division recently became the first South African contractor to have its workshop certified to ISO 3834 quality standards by the South African Institute of Welding (SAIW), the International Standards Organisation’s authorised national body for company certification.
This state-of-the-art facility in Kya Sand, Gauteng, is the heart of group’s Pipe Laying Division, one of only a few contractors in this specialised field that has the internal skills and capacities to construct large steel pipelines of up to three-metres in diameter.
These extensive capabilities have been deployed on a number of critical pipeline projects for fuel and gas producers, mining houses, water-utility boards and municipalities, among others.
Rukesh Raghubir, the group’s chief-executive officer, says that this development is a pre-emptive response to the continuous drive for excellence by participants in specialist industrial sectors of the economy, as well as by various government bodies.
“It has significantly bolstered our already-robust integrated systems to ensure the highest possible standards are met, in terms of quality, in addition to health and safety, as well as the environment. It reaffirms our commitment to delivering a level of quality that matches our industrial clients’ own quest for excellence. Meanwhile, this approach also greatly assists government in safeguarding against the construction of inferior infrastructure. This has become a growing concern in the public sector with the arrival of so many unscrupulous operators who threaten to bring the entire pipeline industry into disrepute,” Raghubir says.
Lance Cox, the group’s safety, health environment, risk and quality manager, led the team that was tasked with ensuring that the workshop complies with the rigorous requirements of ISO 3834, a more specialised and onerous standard that, therefore, immediately confirms the high quality of fabrication undertaken at the workshop.
“It specifically guides the procedures of all operations involved in the fabrication of high-quality steel-pipe componentry, including the many critical “bends” that are used on a typical pipeline project,” Lance says.
“For example, it prescribes processes and periods for the storage of consumables and the correct calibration of testing instrumentation. This is in addition to the procedures and
timelines for the maintenance of welding equipment, confirming the competency levels of our skilled welding team and the non-destructive testing processes we adopt on our sites.”
Sound record-keeping is also a critical requirement for retaining accreditation, while all documentation has to be safely stored for no less than 12 years, as opposed to only three to five years as required by other more generic standards.
Moreover, it promotes a culture of accountability by establishing a single point of contact for any queries relating to the quality of welding undertaken by M&D Construction Group’s Pipeline Division.
This formidable responsibility is being shouldered by Gerrie Le Grange, pipe quality manager.
Le Grange, together with Pieter Naudé, senior quality officer, and Gerhard Faber, engineering manager of the factory, also played a key role in ensuring that M&D Construction Group passed the SAIW’s rigorous and extensive audit.
The process commenced early last year and Lance says that, during the preparation phases, he also received very positive feedback from some of the Pipe Laying division’s clients regarding the interest shown in complying with the requirements of the ISO 3834 standard.
This includes from a prominent participant in the oil and gas sector, which demands that extremely high standards always be met and maintained by both industry participants and their supply-chain partners.
Meanwhile, prominent public-sector client bodies have become even more discerning when evaluating tenders for the construction of their water pipelines, many of which traverse vast distances in outlying rural areas to efficiently deliver the “life bringer” where and when it is required.
“I expect this trend to continue, considering the profound negative impact that the drought has already had on so many areas of the country. The situation has highlighted the need to maintain, upgrade and build new quality infrastructure, with some areas of the country having already been declared national emergencies,” Lance says.
M&D Construction Group has remained a leader in water infrastructure for more than 10 years. Not only is the company known for its ability to build complex water-treatment plants, reservoirs and pump-booster stations; it is also extensively involved in those smaller diameter pipelines that are vital component of the municipal-service delivery backbone.
The Pipe Laying Division recently took further steps to ensure that it retains its standing in this market by becoming one of the South African Department of Labour’s (DoL) approved asbestos contractors.
This is a key differentiator at time when aged leaking asbestos pipelines are being replaced by new and more reliable high-density polyethylene and even polyethylene terephthalate technologies.
As an approved DoL asbestos contractor, the Pipe Laying division ensures its clients that the highest possible health and safety, as well as environmental standards are being adhered to when removing, transporting and disposing these pipes. Bear in mind that they have been manufactured from a material that can lead to mesothelioma if handled incorrectly and irresponsibly.
Raghubir concludes that he is proud of his team’s stellar work in driving excellence, “a key pillar of M&D Construction Group’s rapid growth in the South African construction industry”.