Having spent a very busy 40 year career in the construction business, AfriSam Construction Materials Executive Avi Bhoora is concerned by the negative attitude of many young people towards this field of work.

“I do worry about the number of young South Africans who seem to have taken a conscious decision not to enter an industry like ours,” says Bhoora. “There appears to be a strong preference for an ‘office job’ rather than the often difficult conditions of working on a construction site, for instance.”

Such attitudes make it difficult for companies like AfriSam to compete for the best talent among school leavers or college graduates, he says. It is therefore vital for the industry to change this view among potential new entrants, and to highlight the potential for meaningful and rewarding careers.

“It might not be obvious to many people how vital our work is to every citizen’s quality of life,” he says. “If we could better convey the importance of what we do, it could inspire more youth to consider the opportunities and get involved.”

Youth can look forward to meaningful and rewarding careers in the construction industry.
Youth can look forward to meaningful and rewarding careers in the construction industry.

This might need a concerted rebranding of the industry’s image, to emphasise the many avenues that are open to new entrants. His concern is that construction related careers have become a ‘blind spot’ to many young people, blocking any possibility of exploring these options.

“I have spent my whole life in construction, and as I approach retirement, I am inclined to reflect on how the sector is going to renew itself – so that it can continue delivering into the future,” he says. 

An important starting point is for the public to appreciate more clearly that every city, road, bridge, dam, school, hospital or other engineered structure comes from the work of skilled contractors and their supply chain. 

“Materials like aggregate must be extracted from the earth to make the concrete for this infrastructure; it is difficult work, but essential for progress,” says Bhoora. “If the youth can be inspired by these messages, perhaps we can start changing the value they place on the occupations this field offers.”


Digital technologies are creating various new opportunities in the learning environment, and virtual reality is proving its value in the engineering courses at the Murray & Roberts Cementation Training Academy (MRTA). 

According to Tony Pretorius, education, training and development (ETD) executive at Murray & Roberts Cementation, the MRTA is probably leading the way in this respect. 

“We are pioneering the use of VR to split circuits in trackless mining machinery allowing our engineering learners to read schematics and identify components,” says Pretorius. “They can also use the VR platform to identify the flow of hydraulics and perform fault diagnosis.”

Looking at a real machine, he notes that it is difficult for learners to physically see the components making up the different circuits – such as the steering and brakes circuit and the drilling and drivetrain circuit. In the VR space, these circuits can be split from each other – with the schematic represented on the actual equipment. 

“By hovering over a particular component on your machine, the VR platform will highlight that component on the schematic – allowing the learner to see a complex schematic on the machine itself,” he says. “This makes it much easier for learners to understand what they are looking at, as a valve on a schematic looks very different to a real valve, for instance.”

This greatly improves the level of comprehension, creating a firmer foundation for the learning journey into the maintenance of mechanised equipment, he says. Already, there have been better results from the learners moving into the practical workshop phase of the course.

“This unique approach allows us to take the learner onto a machine with the VR tools, so they can quickly grasp the schematic and apply this understanding in our engineering training workshop,” he says. “This prepares learners much more effectively for our service departments, which focus on mechanised trackless equipment.”After completing this phase of their training, the learners move into Murray & Roberts Cementation’s rebuild workshops to gain further workplace integrated experience as they progress toward applied competence. Pretorius notes that various original equipment manufacturers are involved at this stage to facilitate specific hi-tech training on their machinery. 


The Ikusasa building in the Oxford Parks precinct in Rosebank – completed by leading black-owned contractor Concor earlier this year – has just been given six stars by the Green Building Council South Africa (GBCSA).

Built by Concor in just 12 months, Ikusasa is a pioneer in sustainable building standards. The 6 Star Green Star SA Office V1.1 Design Certification from the GBCSA is considered as World Leadership status. In both its construction and operation, Ikusasa reduces water use, energy consumption, process waste and pollution. The building is occupied by blue chip company Anglo American’s Global Shared Services, who recently recognised Concor by awarding a Certificate Award of Excellence to the company.

Earning this accolade required Concor to apply its client’s sustainable designs and its own stringent quality systems. Among its construction procedures, for instance, Concor conducted a hazardous materials survey on the site before demolishing existing buildings. The company ensured the responsible removal and disposal of any asbestos, lead or polychlorinated biphenyls found on the site.

Concor applied a stringent Environmental Management Plan (EMP) in line with its ISO 14001 accreditation. It also put in place a rigourous Waste Management Plan (WMP) which saw 70% of demolition and construction waste being re-used or recycled rather than going to landfill. Waste was separated at source, preventing contamination between different waste streams so that waste could be recycled more cost effectively. Together with the Hazardous Waste Management Survey, Concor was able to uphold critical environmental standards.

The building’s environmental performance includes conserving water and energy. Water efficiency has been optimised by using options like low-flow tap fittings, dual flush toilets, as well as water sub-metering for uses such as irrigation and bathrooms. Water-wise irrigation methods and smart sensors cuts plant irrigation by half. Air is used in the heating, ventilation and cooling system rather than water, further reducing consumption.

To achieve a Green Star South Africa Net-Zero Carbon Level 1 score, Ikusasa generates all the energy required by the base building. This is achieved by harnessing renewable energy, with a solar photovoltaic generation system on the roof. Energy efficiency is enhanced through sub-metering, which tracks the main areas of consumption. Where an energy use exceeds 100 kVA, it is metered separately. This allows users can benchmark usage targets and apply strategies to bring down energy consumption.


Latest from Pilot Crushtec International is Metso Outotec’s Lokotrack® ST4.10™, the largest model in the Lokotrack® mobile screen range. With a nominal capacity up to 600 tonnes per hour (tph), it is ideally suited for high-capacity aggregate screening in a closed-circuit crushing process. 

While static plants have always been preferred in high-volume aggregate applications, mobility and flexibility have become principal factors for aggregate producers, prompting the migration to mobile screens at several operations. 

A major talking point is the plant’s extensive 9 m² screen area with three 6,060 mm x 1,520 mm screen decks producing up to four end products. The wide feed box with an 8 m³ capacity and the 10m side conveyors with adjustable angles and speeds, enable the unit to be deployed as part of a multi-stage crushing process in closed circuit with large scale crushing plants such as the Lokotrack LT120™ or LT300HP™. 

The wide grizzly rock box also makes loading with a wheel loader easy when using the Lokotrack® ST4.10™ as a stand-alone unit in sand and gravel applications. Despite its large size and its 33,000 kg weight, the new mobile screen is fast and easy to set up. With its 19,650 mm (length) x 3,040 mm (width) x 3,560 mm (height) transport dimensions, it can be transported between sites as a single unit on a low bed truck. 

The screen is equipped with a diverter chute that enables blending of products from different decks. Side tensioned top and middle decks make changing screening media quick and easy, thus maximising uptime on site. 

As all Lokotracks, the Lokotrack® ST4.10™ can be equipped with the optional Metso Outotec IC™ process control system, which offers a safe single-button start-up and the possibility to interlock the screen with other Metso equipment in a train. 

The new mobile screen is powered by a 106-kW CAT C4.4 106 engine. 


  • The machine comes with an extended grizzly feed hopper for easy closed-circuit production
  • Despite its large size, the Lokotrack® ST4.10™ can be transported between sites as a single unit on a low bed truck
  • Side tensioned top and middle decks make changing screening media quick and easy
  • The optional Metso Outotec IC automation system allows for easy and safe process control 

and connectivity to other Lokotracks


Dealing with a pump rental company that has the expertise and capability to undertake a complete pump overhaul proved to be a major advantage for a customer in the manufacturing sector recently. 

Having had previous pump rental experience with IPR, this customer requested urgent assistance when the pump it was using for water transfer at its operation became problematic. 

“Not only were we able to provide a rapid pump dewatering rental solution to this customer,” says Henru Strydom operations manager at IPR, “we were also able to undertake the complete overhaul of the pump ensuring it was back in operation within a relatively short period of time.” 

Years of operation transferring water from one dam to another had taken it toll on the pump that was in use at the customer facility, and such is its manufacturing operation that it could not be without a dewatering pump. IPR’s team were contacted for a rental pump set and were able to deliver more than just that to its customer. 

Strydom says that the damaged pump was removed from site and replaced with a rental unit. On further inspection at the company’s comprehensively equipped facility, the IPR team found that the damage was both mechanical and electrical, and that a complete rebuild of the pump set would be essential to ensure reliable operation going forward. 

The pump set was completely stripped, and individual components assessed prior to the final decision on what work would need to be done. The final overhaul saw all bearings replaced due to excessive wear and a new engine wiring harness replace the old one which was damaged after short-circuiting. Other damaged components replaced including the control panel. 

Following this work, the pump set components were spray painted in IPR’s in-house spray booth, and then the pump was subjected to final quality control inspections prior to it being tested in the company’s test tank. “Doing this gives our customer full assurance that the rebuilt pump set is capable of meetings its rated flow of 90 litres per second at a maximum head of 25 metres,” Strydom says. 

This is not the first full pump rebuild that IPR has done, and Strydom explains that having an in-depth understanding of pump applications and operations is an advantage especially when overhauling pump sets. “The level of trust that many of our customers have in IPR has seen this sector of our business expand exponentially and we anticipate that it will consider doing so.” 


Even as South Africa’s construction sector struggles through difficult cycles of low profitability and declining capacity, it needs responsible and sustainable companies to maintain momentum.

After almost nine decades in business, AfriSam’s legacy has been to demonstrate the value of good corporate citizenship, according to the company’s sales and marketing executive Richard Tomes. AfriSam began its journey as Anglovaal Portland Cement Company in 1934, with a cement plant in Roodepoort.

“The time since then has seen many changes and we are proud to have grown stronger, with our customers confirming that we are still their preferred choice,” says Tomes. “Even with the depressed state of the construction sector, our focus on quality and sustainability means that we can continue to serve the market to world class standards.”

Tomes argues that the extensive investment in cement plants, readymix facilities and quarries over the years laid the groundwork for AfriSam’s considerable contribution to the country’s infrastructure. As Anglo Alpha, it had become a fully vertically-integrated construction materials business in the 1990s through the strategic incorporation of aggregate producer Hippo Quarries and readymix company Pioneer Concrete. When the country re-entered the international community post-democracy, the company was acquired by the multinational Holcim group, further augmenting its access to world-class expertise and best practice.

“The learnings gained when part of the Holcim group were valuable in positioning AfriSam where it is today,” he says. “Our access to global research and the sharing of technical expertise further enhanced the expertise of many staff still with the business.”

He emphasises the large capital commitments which AfriSam has historically made in the country’s productive capacity. Often located in remote areas due to their need for limestone deposits, cement plants must be built for optimal longevity to justify the investment, he explains. These facilities – such as AfriSam’s Ulco and Dudfield plants – operate not just as production facilities but as integrated settlements. 

“We have been able to serve the nation’s requirement for vital cement supplies by maintaining entire village environments at these sites, including schools, houses, churches and other services,” says Tomes. “These facilities must be carefully managed and maintained for sustainability, and to make it attractive for our staff to live and work there.”

There is also an ongoing commitment to education and training, to ensure that all plant is professionally operated and systematically serviced while creating opportunities for future generations. 

Looking further ahead, AfriSam has taken a leading role in the sector to reduce carbon emissions. Aiming at producing carbon neutral products, the company has already made significant progress in offering the market a range of lower carbon cements. It is also considering renewable energy sources at some its plants, to reduce coal usage.

“We will continue to make a positive contribution in helping South Africa meet its commitments to the relevant global treaties and conventions on climate change,” he says.


Over the past 12 years Zest WEG, the South African subsidiary of Brazilian motor and controls manufacturer WEG, has evolved from being primarily a sales and distribution company to a fully-fledged manufacturer working to the best global standards. 

“In 2010 WEG acquired a majority shareholding in Zest, which was the WEG distributor in South Africa,” explains Eduardo Werninghaus, newly appoint Group CEO of Zest WEG. “While Zest had some manufacturing capability, its focus was on distributing WEG’s range in the sub-Saharan market. Once WEG assumed control, the decision was taken to progressively expand the company’s local manufacturing capability.”

As Werninghaus points out, WEG, founded in 1961, is a truly global manufacturer with factories on all five continents. “In all, WEG manufactures in 12 countries outside of Brazil and the plants in these countries account for almost 50% of WEG’s production. Manufacturing is in WEG’s DNA and is now part of the DNA of the South African operation. Currently our manufacturing sites in South Africa are able to produce a wide range of equipment with varying levels of local content – more than 90% in the case of transformers and close to 70% for panels and E-Houses.”

In Gauteng Zest WEG has two transformer manufacturing facilities. One is in Wadeville and the other in Heidelberg. “These facilities were acquired when we bought out two local manufacturers in 2013 and in 2015,” says Werninghaus. “As a result, we now have the capability to locally manufacture transformers up to 45 MVA capacity.” 

Zest WEG has upgraded and extended the facilities, which are now equipped with state-of-the-art equipment including an impulse voltage generator at the Heidelberg factory which allows the in-house testing of transformers. 

Also in Gauteng, Zest WEG – through its automation division  – produces a wide range of electrical panels in Robertsham and E-Houses and electrical enclosures in Heidelberg. 

In Cape Town, the company has a genset factory and a panel manufacturing facility. The genset site is dedicated to producing custom-engineered gensets and is complemented by an assembly line at Zest WEG’s headquarters in Longlake, Johannesburg, which assembles boxed gensets and gear motors. 

Werninghaus emphasises that Zest WEG has put a huge effort into building up a network of local suppliers, who contribute to the manufacturing process. 

“We don’t do this merely to meet government-mandated targets on local procurement but because it is something that WEG has always done,” notes Werninghaus. “The company started up in the early 60s in the southern Brazilian state of Santa Catarina which was then very undeveloped so it really had no choice but to develop local suppliers. The process worked extremely well and is now standard throughout our global operations.” 

While Zest WEG’s manufacturing drive has been highly successful, it has not been without its challenges, says Werninghaus. “WEG is a very aggressive company when it comes to manufacturing and is very focused on efficiency and productivity and it was by no means easy to translate this WEG culture to the South African manufacturing operations,” he remarks. “Nevertheless, our efforts have been rewarded and our South African plants now perform as well as those anywhere else in the global WEG group and work to the exact same quality standards.”On the benefits of local manufacture, Werninghaus says that it helps control costs, allows the customisation of products and also gives Zest WEG the ability to adapt much faster to changing specifications and regulations. “Most of all, however, it gives us a significant advantage in supplying the key African market. South Africa is the gateway to much of the continent and it’s a strategic imperative for WEG to have a strong manufacturing and supply hub serving the African region.”


The recent earning of Level 1 Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment (B-BBEE) status was not an end-goal but a step in FLSmidth’s transformation journey in South Africa.

Deon de Kock, FLSmidth President for Sub-Saharan Africa, Middle East and South Asia, emphasises that diversity, inclusion and engagement are imperatives for good business.

Deon de Kock, FLSmidth President for Sub-Saharan Africa, Middle East and South Asia.
Deon de Kock, FLSmidth President for Sub-Saharan Africa, Middle East and South Asia.

“As we drive success through productivity enhancement, we draw on the best available human and technological resources,” says De Kock. “This includes not just our staff but all stakeholders in our supply chain.”

Investing in its talent pipeline was particularly important in promoting diversity, he says. This has included skills development through apprenticeships, learnerships, scholarships and graduate programmes. The success of these candidates has ensured solid progress in employment equity, as one B-BBEE element within its integrated approach.

“B-BBEE is not a once-a-year event for FLSmidth, but rather a long-term business strategy,” says Estelle Steytler, head of People and Organisational Development and Transformation at FLSmidth. Steytler highlighted the important role of dedicated champions within the business to implement B-BBEE policy. 

“Each of these champions focuses on a particular aspect of B-BBEE,” she says. “These include management control, skills development, ownership, socio-economic development, and enterprise and supplier development.”

Structures have also been set up to support the FLSmidth board, keeping transformation as a top priority on the agenda. A social and ethics committee reports to the board. This committee in turn receives input from an employment equity and skills development committee, an enterprise and supplier development committee, and a corporate social responsibility committee. 

“It has always been our aim to deliver transformation through a focus on shared value, with clear aims and intent,” she says. 

She also emphasises the success in building the talent pipeline. Many university students supported by FLSmidth bursaries are now employed in roles such as mechanical engineers, technology specialists and HR experts. De Kock points out the vital importance of taking young graduates and trainees into the business. 

“It is one thing to support students, apprentices and learners in their studies, but it is also necessary to have uptake capacity,” he says. “We pick the cream of the crop to start their careers with us, and to grow with the company.”

The same applies to FLSmidth’s supplier development programme. He emphasises that small businesses are not only given capacity-building support, but they are also contracted to supply goods and services to the company. 

The direct benefit to FLSmidth’s Level 1 status is that customers receive 135% recognition for their expenditure with the business – higher than many competitors. This helps customers meet their preferential procurement targets. 

“This also makes us an employer of choice, as people want to be associated with an organisation that takes transformation seriously,” he says.

Steytler concludes that FLSmidth’s empowerment of stakeholders – and the resulting Level 1 status – is its license to operate. 

“While increasing our opportunities in bidding for and winning tenders, we are also proud to be contributing towards empowering the overall market,” she says. “This impacts the wider economy in a positive manner while strengthening our brand.”


Suitable for pumping large quantities of dirty water, the heavy duty Grindex Mega pump is often referred to as the workhorse of pump dewatering. This is because apart from being known for its high reliability, durability and dependability, this pump can handle abrasive particles with ease. 

Integrated Pump Technology is the official Grindex pump distributor for southern African and the Grindex Mega is available through its strategically situated network of distributors which cover South Africa and across-border countries as well as Zambia and the DRC.  

Easy to install and simple to operate, the plug-and-play Grindex Mega pump is available in two configurations, the Mega N for normal head applications and the Mega H for those that require very high head pumping such as deep excavations found in open pit operations as well as underground mines. 

Manufactured from cast iron, the Grindex Mega pump is engineered for use in heavy duty arduous applications including those with corrosive liquids such as salt water or where the pH levels is between 6 to 13. Zinc anodes are available for extra protection. The pump has a flow rate of 150 litres per second at a maximum head of 200 metres. 


While global adoption of Proximity Detection Systems (PDS) – also known as Collision Prevention Systems (CPS) – is likely to accelerate in the near future, it is important to understand that scoping, implementing, integrating and maintaining such systems can be complex. 

Booyco Electronics, an acknowledged leader in the field, has been developing PDS since 2006 and CEO Anton Lourens says he is heartened by the growing acceptance in the international mining sector that there is the need to understand what any particular technology does and does not do prior to making decisions to implement CPS. 

Strategically, Booyco Electronics broadened its global reach through collaboration agreements with selected technology integrators. Doing this, Lourens says, has created the optimal channel to customers in regions where we do not have our own infrastructure, and assures customers that PDS solutions will be rolled out effectively. 

“Our technology partners understand the safety and other benefits of Booyco Electronics’ PDS solutions. Most importantly they bring their insights into the local conditions in which our equipment can be applied; giving mining operations essentially the best of both worlds,” he says. “Through this approach we have been making inroads and expect to continue to do so.” The company now has collaborations with several technology specialists worldwide including Insucam, Ramjack, RCT, Tecwise and Wenco. 

Lourens says that when considering the implementation of a PDS solution the first step is conducting a detailed risk assessment, irrespective of whether it is an underground or openpit operation, but he is quick to caution that it is especially risky for an operation to rush into a PDS installation after a safety incident that has led to a partial or total mine shutdown, whether for regulatory or operational reasons. “Being hasty can be counter-productive, and for a PDS installation to be successful it is essential that it meets the specifications identified in the risk assessment,” he says. 

“This calls for a collaborative project approach, with all stakeholders participating including the customer, the PDS supplier and a competent  systems integrator. This should be for both the selection and implementation of a PDS or CPS solution,” he says. ”This early engagement should include mine management and personnel, trainers, OEMS, suppliers and integrators. They all need to understand why the PDS solution is being considered and the implications and benefits.” 

Commenting on stakeholders, Lourens says that TMM operators are key participants in the process, and during the implementation stage it is critical that equipment installation teams engage one-on-one with operators, addressing technical questions. Training of operators is also vital to ensure that they understand how the PDS equipment works and how to care for it. 

While its core function is detecting and avoiding collisions, PDS and CPS technology allows use of the data it generates, and the Booyco Electronics Asset Management Systems (BEAMS) software suite is a central information hub which facilitates insight into a mining operation’s interaction. Analysing this data provides information about unsafe patterns of behaviour allowing this to be identified and appropriate interventions implemented, enhancing safety.