Floors in Africa stays abreast of industry, product trends and developments through onsite visits.

Floors in Africa magazine recently visited TAL’s Plant and Laboratory facilities in Olifantsfontein to see first-hand what behind-the-scenes activities take place at TAL, so that it can stay up to date with the latest developments in tile and construction adhesives, improve its knowledge and share it with FLOORS readers.

TAL has a track record of over 40 years in the industry and offers an effective range of tiling products suitable for any tiling application. On arrival, Roxanne Mancini, Editor of FLOORS magazine, and Charmain Pieterse, FLOORS Journalist, were greeted by Gela Ohl, TAL Marketing Manager, and were shown the training area where Norcros SA was busy running a learnership programme. Norcros SA also offers internal training and once a year a 12-week tiling course for unskilled individuals is offered, which involves a practical and a theoretical element.

From here, the FLOORS visitors were escorted to the practical application area of training, where they witnessed several students plastering brick walls that they had built themselves. After each practical course, the walls are broken down in preparation for the next group of learners.

TAL has specialised research laboratories dedicated to developing products that are specifically compatible with South Africa’s harsh climatic conditions. It was these laboratories that offered significant insight into the dedication TAL has for innovation and new technology.

Roxanne and Charmain were escorted to these laboratories and invited to participate in some of the product testing, which is where problems are identified and resolved. Peter Makgamatho, a senior chemist, asked them to test the consistency of an adhesive when combined with water quantities as specified by TAL for effective functioning so that they could see for themselves the differences in consistency when directions for product usage are not followed. The cause of failure is evident when tested.

Peter also showcased several samples stored in the conditioning room, which is temperature controlled. Here TAL tests the compressive strength of screed. According to Peter, when concrete cures it becomes stronger, and here they test at what compression level it will crack. A ‘good’ failure is when the crack is cone-shaped as it indicates that the concrete is able to handle the required force.

In the quality control laboratory the FLOORS visitors were introduced to chemist Celiwe Maholwane, who tests the raw materials and the quality of the finished goods. She also tests the moisture levels and the grading of products.

On completion of the laboratory visit, Roxanne and Charmain were escorted by Production Manager Ian Starr around the plant, explaining how it functions and why. He added that the arrival of new machinery in the near future will increase the capacity of the plant. Ian adds that to keep things functioning smoothly they have to keep everything simple, follow procedure and do the small things even better than before, and that they have to maximise output.

This visit demonstrated the significant amount of research and attention to detail that goes into developing a product that functions to the highest standards as outlined by TAL through their reputation in the industry.

No detail is left unchecked at TAL’s Plant and Laboratory in Olifantsfontein.

For more information go to: www.tal.co.za