As emerging market currencies take a pounding on world markets and the rand tests new lows against the US dollar, it is prudent for the local construction industry to seek more efficient ways of developing much-needed infrastructure and housing.
Concrete Manufacturers Association NPC (CMA) director Frans Minnaar says that the construction industry can weather the storm by ensuring faster, more efficient methods are employed to construct much-needed infrastructure, roads and housing.
“Bearing in mind that government has to deliver on a fair amount of promised development projects to soothe the expectations of their support, it is not unreasonable to believe that many of these projects will have to be completed soon irrespective of economic data. Along with private-sector projects, this will give some impetus to the market and will provide some stimulation for the industry which will lead to fierce competition among bidders,” he explains.
With the expectation of tighter budgets and shorter delivery times that will be required to ease government’s mounting delivery pressures, the answer to sustainable construction will lie in the use of more efficient techniques. While traditional building product suppliers may be in for a tough time, Minnaar believes that precast concrete product suppliers will fare better as their products will provide contractors who are under pressure with faster and more efficient means of construction.
“In order to effectively complete projects, government and private- sector investors will have to look at more efficient ways of construction in future, with the use of high- quality products that will speed up installation and provide shorter project durations. Contractors, too, will operate more smartly and make careful calculations regarding material, transport, installation, and labour costs in order to be more efficient and competitive.”
Also, while speed will be of the essence on future projects, a move to using precast elements improves quality of workmanship, as elements are produced under well controlled conditions in established factories. Rather than sacrificing quality for speed, contractors will have the opportunity to address the government’s need for improved quality, as well as lower costs.
“Rebuilds currently cost government millions of rands a year and with a move to quality precast concrete products (manufactured by CMA member producers) an opportunity exists to eliminate this problem and save additional money in years to come.”
Simultaneously, the use of precast concrete products will ensure stability in the workplace, with the provision of long-term job security in factories. It is also known that the use of precast concrete products is also creating short-term jobs for local communities during the installation and placing of these products and it, therefore, serves a dual purpose as far as job creation is concerned.
“By simply changing the way we design and specify material for building projects, we have the potential to deliver more for less. While economic realities have an impact on the delivery of infrastruc- ture and housing, a shift to precast concrete has the opportunity to save end-users time and money to ensure development continues at an acceptable pace,” concludes Minnaar.