To provide daily technical support to customers as well as upholding high levels of quality control, Chryso Southern Africa has six laboratories: four specialist laboratories for its Jet Park branch (head office), basic laboratories at the Cape Town and Durban branches, and in addition to its three production plants, seven branches and an international network of technical experts.
Chryso SA’s first laboratory (the quality control lab) was established 15 years ago, concurrently with the commencement of Chryso’s operations in South Africa. This was followed by the research and development lab, coupled by the concrete lab in 2004. In 2007, the research and development lab was augmented by the colour lab.
The quality control laboratory’s main function lies in its title: it measures the quality of all products produced locally by the company. This ensures that only products that meet pre-set criteria are dispatched to customers.
The primary functions of the research and development lab are quality control, new product evaluation, existing product optimisation, product comparison and product complaint evaluation. The latter four functions are normally always performed in conjunction with the concrete lab, whilst the quality control function is evaluated jointly only when the need arises.
New products are mostly developed at the Chryso France research and production facility, which is based in Sermaises. Prior to the proposed launch, these products are evaluated in terms of their suitability for the southern African market. The optimisation of existing products is mostly carried out by local technical personnel.
As mentioned previously, Chryso SA’s concrete lab plays a vital complementary role to the company’s other labs. In most cases, a “chemical” evaluation of a product gives a limited perspective of a product’s capabilities. In these cases, the concrete lab will carry out a complementary evaluation of the product in question – utilising a physical concrete test – in order to evaluate several important physical properties imparted by the product.
Besides the complementary product evaluation role, the concrete lab’s prime function is to provide technical support to its customers. This can be in the form of “concrete characterisation” or “technical assistance/sales support”.
Concrete characterisation entails the evaluation of the individual components and their effect on concrete. These individual components include cement, extender, aggregate, admixture and other additions. Mix designs from scratch are frequently carried out in the concrete lab, but the follow-up services offered by commercial laboratories are recommended to customers. The good relationship between the company and commercial laboratories is of prime importance to Chryso SA.
In terms of the mix-design application, the concrete lab has experience with a wide range of work abilities – from roller-compacted concrete (RCC) to standard concrete and self-compacting concrete (SCC).
The colour laboratory is Chryso SA’s most recent addition to the Jet Park laboratories and it works for the concrete aesthetics division with regard to concrete pigments.
The laboratory houses sophisticated equipment, like a colourimeter that measures the colour strength of pigmentation quantitatively. The colour laboratory helps to provide specifications to colour-match available concrete-masonry production lines at competitive rates.
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