The efficiency & performance of precast products will play a defining role in easing economic challenges.

As emerging market currencies take a pounding on world markets and the Rand tests new lows against the USD, it is now, possibly more than ever, critical for the local construction industry to seek more efficient ways of developing much needed infrastructure 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,” explains Executive Director of the Concrete Manufacturers Association NPC (CMA), Frans Minnaar.

“Along with private sector projects, this will give some impetus to the market and will provide some stimulation for the industry which will no-doubt lead to fierce competition among bidders”.

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, Frans believes that precast concrete product suppliers will fare better as their products will provide “under-pressure” contractors 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,” Frans continues. “Contractors will also have to operate more smartly and do careful calculations regarding materials, transport, installation and labour costs, in order to be more efficient and competitive.”

Furthermore, 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 then have the opportunity to address Governments’ need for improved quality as well as speed and lower costs.

In addition to the above, it is also well known that the use of precast concrete products are 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 materials for building projects we have the potential to deliver more for less. While economic realities no-doubt has an impact on the delivery of infrastructure 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 Frans.