Structural engineering company Tass Engineering has streamlined its business by reducing expenses and concentrating on maintaining its skills set to remain competitive, despite a stagnant demand for skills and a lack of development in the steel construction industry in South Africa.
The company, a member of the Southern African Institute of Steel Construction, reduced costs where possible through effective management to transform into a more manageable model to cope with the constrained market, Tass Engineering MD Tim Tasioulas tells Engineering News.
The lack of demand for skills and limited activity in the construction sector are consequences of the financial crisis of 2008 and the delay in government tenders related to South Africa’s National Infrastructure Plan adopted in 2012. This, coupled with the electricity crisis and low economic growth, has severely impacted on the steel construction industry.
He highlights that the South African steel construction industry relied substantially on the mining sector, but discussions on nationalisation, as well as strikes, have resulted in a significant downturn in mining sector demand. Subsequently, this has significantly impacted on the steel construction industry, outlines Tasioulas.
However, he adds that, “Tass Engineering is a diversified company, as it has the versatility and skills to operate in most fields of the steelwork contracting industry providing solutions from heavy mining and conveyor work through to shopping centres, warehousing and commercial buildings to intricate architectural masterpieces and has, therefore, managed to mitigate the effect of these industry challenges”.
Meanwhile, the Kempton Park- based structural steelwork manufacturer is meeting client requirements and specifications for several projects in Gauteng.
In October, Tass Engineering secured a contract to supply steel structures weighing 260 t to the Government Printing Works, which is scheduled to be completed in the next six months.
At Eastgate Shopping Centre, on the East Rand, the company has supplied 1 600 t of steelwork for Phase 2 of the centre’s redevelopment. This project started in November 2014 and will be completed in February 2016.
Tasioulas tells Engineering News that, as this is a brownfield project, it has been a major challenge, as a large amount of underpinning was required for the foundations supporting the existing structure to cater for the additional loading of the new structure.
“The erection of the heavy steelwork without the use of mobile cranes for hoisting has been a substantial challenge and achievement,” he adds.
Lightweight cranes were used where possible, but, in some instances, cranes could not be used and structures had to be lifted manually.
The company is also working on the 131 000 m2 Mall of Africa, between Johannesburg and Pretoria. Construction started in mid-2014 and will be completed at the end of this year. The company has supplied 300 t of steel for the skylights, entrances and façades to this project.
Tass Engineering is also building an architectural bridge at its premises for a Natalspruit project, in Heidelberg. The bridge is 32 m long, 3.5 m wide and 7.7 m high. The company will use a self-driven bogey to transport the bridge to the project’s location to minimise traffic disruption and speed up the erection of the bridge.
The company is also building a 70 t intricate architectural bridge walkway for Waterfall Park, in Midrand, Gauteng, which should be completed by the end of December this year.
Further, Tass Engineering has been involved in the construction of the Marlboro, OR Tambo International Airport and Rhodesfield stations for the Gautrain rapid rail link. The contract required the company to supply 600 t of steel fabrication in total.
The company is currently busy with a 70 t extension to the OR Tambo International Airport station, which comes with its challenges as the train will be fully operational for the duration of the construction period.
Tass Engineering will also complete all the Tshwane bus rapid transit (BRT) stations this month. The company completed its work on the Johannesburg Rea Vaya BRT stations about three years ago. Work on the coal and ash terrace at the Medupi power station was completed earlier this year.