Tag Archives: Concor

CONCOR TO CONSTRUCT IKUSASA OFFICE BLOCK AT OXFORD PARKS

Concor has been awarded the contract to construct the new Ikusasa office block at Oxford Parks in Rosebank. Work started on the building, which will house Anglo Global Shared Services (AGSS), at the beginning of March 2021 and is scheduled for completion in January 2022. 

The four storey building will be constructed on three basement levels of approximately 10 326 m2 and will have four office levels totalling approximately 7 555m2 GLA. It is anticipated that some 814 ton of rebar and some 8 707 m3 of concrete will be used in the construction of Ikusasa. 

Martin Muller, contract manager at Concor, says that the company is excited to continue constructing within the Oxford Parks precinct. “Our involvement with this exciting development goes back to the construction of the first building which today houses BPSA,” he says. 

The Oxford Parks BPSA building received industry recognition at Construction World’s 2019 Best Projects when Concor scooped the winning place in the Building Contractors category, and the project also received a Special Mention in the AfriSam Innovation Award for Sustainable Construction.

Following on this, at Construction World’s 2020 Best Projects, the Oxford Parks precinct featured again with Concor being recognised as the winner in the Building Contractors category; this time for Building 2 – Life Healthcare’s new 10 000 m2 head office, Building 3 – a 4 000 m2 multi-tenanted building housing inter alia Metier Private Equity and G+D Currency Technology and Building 5 – 3 400 moffices for Arup and Sony Music.

Most recently, Concor completed the Radisson RED hotel which is also part of this exciting new precinct in Rosebank, and is due to be opened in June 2022. 

TRUST, RESPECT, SUPPORT UNDERPIN CONCOR SUCCESS AT MSIKABA

The breath-taking Msikaba bridge in the Eastern Cape demands not just an excellent result, but also a collaborative process that engages local communities and small, medium-sized and micro enterprises (SMMEs). It is being constructed by Concor Infrastructure in a joint venture with Mota Engil Construction (MECSA).

According to Lebogang Matlala, Concor site agent at the Msikaba project, the project is proceeding well on the strength of positive contributions by local subcontractors. The Msikaba bridge – being built near Lusikisiki over the Msikaba River – will be the longest cable-stayed bridge in Africa, with a tower-to-tower length of 580 metres. 

It is a vital part of the new 410 km N2 Wild Coast Road (N2WCR) between East London and Port Edward being constructed by the South African National Roads Agency (SANRAL). The N2WCR is part of government’s Strategic Integrated Projects initiative, which aims to catalyse economic growth in the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal.

“Our aim is not just to build an iconic bridge structure to the highest quality,” says Matlala. “We are also here to create a positive impact locally and to help change lives.”

He emphasises that this approach begins by recognising that the company is a temporary guest in the community, and therefore shows the necessary respect in how it operates. This has meant constant communication about the procurement process and construction plans more generally.

“For instance, it was important for us to understand the technical capacity of the local market, so that we could engage the right skills, resources and services from the area,” he says. “We have also invested considerable resources in training, guidance, coaching and mentorship for SMMEs that we engage.”

To effect SANRAL’s requirements to utilise and nurture small businesses from the project area a dedicated SMME department has been created by the JV on the project to work with local SMMEs and assist in various ways. It prepares businesses for possible opportunities through the expression-of-interest (EOI) process, as well as by theoretical and on-job training opportunities. These support services are vital for the long term success of local SMMEs, as they can develop their expertise and experience to grow their businesses into markets further afield, he says. 

“Our project’s SMME department includes an accredited training practitioner and assessor, and a social facilitator,” says Matlala. “Our site engineers also work closely with subcontractors in terms of safety preparation, method statements, invoicing, documentation and their technical work on site.”

He adds that training capacity from Concor’s head office is also available when necessary. With this level of support, local SMMEs supply a range of important services and products to the Msikaba bridge project. These include the supplying of bulk fuel, transporting of labour, and providing plant for earthworks. They also carry out fencing works, drainage, plumbing, minor civils works, electrical work, security services, steel-fixing on the bridge itself and supply readymix concrete.

“We have found that the most successful SMMEs are those who are eager to learn and develop, with a willingness to participate fairly in our procurement processes,” he says. “They also have integrity, a good track record, and the determination to take on the challenges of running an independent business.”

Matlala acknowledges that a central challenge in conducting a sophisticated engineering project in a rural area is that there are seldom enough local SMMEs with the necessary skills and experience. Nonetheless, he highlights that Concor has seen considerable positive development in the local business landscape since the project began. 

“It has been very rewarding for us to see the positive impact to date, and the changes in local perceptions, where many SMMEs are wanting to work more with us in the future,” he says. “Through our approach and support, we would like to see SMMEs develop their self-reliance and to find other business opportunities to become more sustainable and create jobs.”

He highlights that Concor’s emphasis is always on technical excellence, even as they support some subcontractors. Enterprise development cannot be a tick-box exercise, he emphasises, as the quality of work can never be compromised. 

“This approach ensures that we help develop SMMEs to a level where they perform to high standards, which is critical to their future contribution to both their customers and their communities,” says Matlala.

CONCOR COMPLETES RADISSON RED HOTEL IN ROSEBANK

Concor has successfully completed South Africa’s second Radisson RED hotel – this one is situated in the vibrant Oxford Parks mixed-use precinct in Rosebank, Johannesburg.

The upmarket 222 room hotel has been designed – like all Oxford Parks Precinct buildings – to meet a minimum five-star Green Star rating. It will open its doors to guests in June, two months after Concor handed over the building in April 2020. This follows the success of the country’s first Radisson RED hotel – located at the Cape Town Waterfront – which opened in 2017.

Concor took the project through to furniture, fitting and equipment (FF&E) stage, including beds, chairs, television sets and the physical backbone for WiFi connectivity, according to Martin Muller, contract manager at Concor. 

“The basements for the building were completed as part of the first two phases of the Oxford Parks Precinct, and construction began in October 2019 with the superstructure, from ground floor up,” says Muller. Although the Covid-19 lockdown delayed the project somewhat, construction progressed well on this fast track project. A combination of good planning and full resourcing made this possible, he says, with about 500 people on site at peak including contractors. 

Comprising seven levels on top of a ground floor, as well as a roof level for plant and services, the building is a concrete structure based on post-tensioned slabs with grids to suit the room sizes. At the core of the building are four lifts: a goods lift, a fireman’s lift and two lifts for guests.

The ground floor includes the reception, restaurant, kitchens, back-of-house facilities and conference rooms, with the first level housing the management offices, staff facilities and more conference space. Floors two to six each comprise 40 rooms, while on the seventh floor there are just 22 rooms sharing the level with a pool, terrace bar and gym. 

“The compact design means that the majority of plant is located on the roof – the eighth level – including water tanks and all the heating, ventilation and cooling (HVAC) systems,” he says. 

A curtain-wall system of aluminium frames and double glazed windows characterises the east and west sides of the hotel. On the north- and south-facing sides is a facebrick patterned façade with punch-out square windows.

“Most of the internal partitions are constructed with dry-walling materials of high acoustic and fire-rated properties,” he says. “The specifications for these are highly technical, to avoid any noise transfer from room to room despite the compact design.”

Concor’s work was guided by two sets of specifications, one for back-of-house and another for front-of-house, he notes. The base build spec was provided by dhk Architects, while the interior design spec for the rooms was by Source IBA. 

“Keeping a quality building process on track demands a constant focus on information sharing with consultants and subcontractors alike,” says Muller. “This meant weekly meetings to align our building plans with any design adjustments, so we could avoid rework that could have slowed the pace and added to the cost.”

The speed of the project was enhanced by having one tower crane on site, facilitating the work of all trades through the quick delivery of concrete and other materials to the various levels. He highlights the importance of the quality assurance and quality control (QA/QC) teams that followed production and streamlined the snagging process, so that the fit-out specialists could move in to progress the rooms. 

“This allowed the production workers to fully complete their tasks before the entry of plumbers, tilers, painters, joiners, electricians and other finishing trades,” he says. Sequencing was conducted in an east-to-west direction, and these teams completed eight rooms at a time. 

The Radisson RED project also provided an opportunity for Concor to conduct enterprise development among selected subcontractors. Working with three local small businesses, Concor was able to transfer skills in 18 of the required trades, including brickwork, painting and final handover preparation. 

CONCOR COMPLETES HIGHEST RESIDENTIAL BLOCK IN MOTHER CITY

Cape Town has just seen the successful completion by Concor of the tallest residential block in the city area – fronted by a carefully preserved, century-old façade onto one of the trendiest streets in town. 

The 16 On Bree project is remarkable not just for its size – it transforms an old two-storey block into a modern 38-floor luxury development – but its complexity. According to Concor Western Cape senior contracts manager Collin Morilly, an early challenge was the preservation of the fragile heritage façade.

“The 16 metre high wall was built not of concrete but of rock, clay and lime, so it needed very gentle treatment and firm support,” says Morilly. “We erected a specially designed structural steel brace that would support the wall and prevent any structural failure while it was cut free from the rest of the building, which had to be demolished.”

A concrete ground beam was also cast along the base of the façade to act as a counterweight and prevent any movement. As the new structure was built, it was stitched in with the braced façade until finally the brace could be removed. There were also three other heritage walls within the building – standing in a U-shape – which were preserved during the construction process.

“The project also had to be implemented in the highly space-constrained city centre, with busy roads on all boundaries of the site,” he says. “This meant there was almost no laydown area for materials and equipment, and we had to ensure an uninterrupted flow of vehicular and pedestrian traffic.”

This was a significant achievement given the scale of the project, which consumed 21,000 m3 of concrete, 1,650 tonnes of reinforcing bar and 650,000 bricks. The new height of the building required the placement of 40 concrete foundation piles. Tower cranes had to be carefully managed to lift and place materials, a task made more difficult by the high winds for which the Cape is known, especially in summer. 

“Then came the unexpected disruption of work due to the Covid-19 pandemic,” he says. “We were soon able to get back to work after the initial lockdown, but this required extra vigilance and discipline because of the number of workers in such a confined space.”

Having about 900 people on a relatively small footprint over multiple floors meant that Covid-19 protocols had to be strictly implemented, based on a thorough understanding by all employees and subcontractors of the infection risks. 

“Social distancing was a particularly onerous aspect for us to adhere to, as the nature of construction demands that workers operate in teams and groups,” he says. “For example, a team of tilers must work in an apartment together, but the regulated social distance must be observed. This required that fewer workers be allowed into an area, which reduced overall productivity.”

Nonetheless, work proceeded apace to roll out the apartments efficiently and to the highest standard of workmanship. Drawing on the expertise of its trusted subcontractors, Concor’s experienced supervisors kept a close eye on the pace and quality of work, with at least four foremen looking after each floor. 

“We run our projects according to our SANS 10400 and ISO 9001 accreditation, and this means close management of the quality assurance and quality control process,” says Morilly. “Our systems included the SnagR snagging software to accurately record and close out snags timeously, and the Synergy document control software to facilitate timeous issue of information, tracking and recording.”

The Finishes Matrices system was also employed, indicating the level and the apartment in which each of the trades should be working every day. 

The result has been an elegant structure gracing Cape Town’s city skyline, rising 120 metres from street level and comprising 380 upmarket apartments. The future may hold scope for further residential units, making use of space currently used for the parking areas. To make this possible, the parking floor-to-ceiling heights were designed to the same dimensions – 2,9 metres – as the apartment levels. 

CONCOR LEVERAGES GLOBAL STANDARDS TO LEAD IN MINING

Meeting international standards is not an end-goal but an essential step in continuously raising the performance bar, according to Concor Mining Services HSE & training manager, Neil Fourie.

With its quality, environmental management, and occupational health and safety management system certifications recently renewed, Concor has underpinned its world-class status, says Fourie.

“These standards represent the life blood of our business, as customers rely on our management processes to provide them with the highest quality of service,” he says. “Our certification in terms of ISO 45001:2018, ISO 9001:2015 and ISO 14001:2015 gives them the peace of mind that we operate a management system aligned to global best practice.”

He emphasises that a key element of the ISO standards is the principle of effective control and continuous improvement to company procedures and processes. 

“Each year that we operate with these certifications in place, our management system matures and improves,” he says. “This guides us into deeper levels of auditing, which in turn drives our efforts to become better at everything we do – including raising our productivity and compliance.”

Good systems provide a backbone for the business, he notes, allowing the management team to focus on the operations and on smooth implementation of projects. This is increasingly vital in a competitive market, where managers on site must be able to tackle their important tasks in a systematic and methodical fashion.

One of the certification requirements is that internal audits are conducted on a regular basis to determine the effectiveness of our systems. “The internal audits are conducted at various levels and this interaction with our employees also has its own benefits, according to Concor Mining Services quality manager, Liz Diederichs. Far from being simply administrative checklist exercises, internal audits create valuable opportunities for engagement, coaching of employees at all levels, raising awareness, and often with inputs from the auditees opportunities for improvement.

“On a quality management audit, for instance, we check that all systems on a project are understood, implemented and maintained, allowing us to give considerable support to site management,” says Diederichs. She highlights the collaborative culture within Concor Mining Services, where all the relevant personnel are involved in the audits and the formulation of procedures. 

“All activities and tasks are discussed in detail, ensuring that employees buy into the process of creating the procedures that ensure the best practice is followed,” she says. 

Fourie notes that having a well-entrenched integrated management system that is aligned to international standards streamlines project turnaround times. On every new site that must be established, clear guidelines are in place for starting up and operating, so everyone can see what needs to be done.

“This also makes it easier to on-board new employees and ensure that they become productive as quickly as possible,” he says. “This adds to our adaptability and agility on projects, enhancing our cost competitiveness, workmanship and reliability in terms of meeting deadlines.”

As managers, specialists and professionals move between sites where projects are already underway, they can also slot into the workflow more easily as the systems and record keeping provide a detailed picture of planned and completed tasks.

“Having our own system based on international standards improves our interaction with the client too,” he says. “It allows us to easily align to the client’s requirements, or to seamlessly apply our own world-class system without compromising continuity.”

Concor Mining Services sets well defined objectives and targets to include from strategic, operational and functional through to health, safety and environmental issues like energy efficiency, carbon footprint, and equipment maintenance. Applying its standards-based integrated management system, the company has over the past five years maintained a zero-fatality rate and a lost-time injury rate of 0,00%, he says.

Installation of LED lighting at company facilities and rain harvesting at engineering workshops are among the energy and environmental interventions, while improved maintenance has been extending equipment lifespan and reducing the carbon footprint. 

Learning from health, safety, environmental and operational incidents has been an important feature in the continuous improvement journey with in-depth investigations, root-cause analysis and corrective action helping to eliminate the causes of non-conformances. The integration of Concor Mining Services’ management systems allows this learning to be effectively shared across the organisation.

“Our formalised systems also allow us to better monitor, measure, analyse our processes and communicate the status of our progress to all employees, so that there is a good understanding of their contribution towards achieving our targets,” says Diederichs.

SPACE-AGE CHALLENGE FOR CONCOR AT MEERKAT

Scientists will soon gain even further insights into the evolution of galaxies in the universe as the MeerKAT telescope array is expanded. This is an exciting project presenting some unique challenges for leading South African contractor Concor. 

In partnership with OptiPower, Concor has been awarded the R202-million infrastructure project that will allow the addition of 24 dishes to the 64 dish MeerKAT radio telescope. Located in a remote area of the Northern Cape, MeerKAT was launched in 2018 and is a precursor facility to the next-generation radio telescope, the Square Kilometre Array (SKA).

According to Concor’s contracts director Joe Nell, the scope of Concor’s work will include a construction camp for about 250 people, 40 km of gravel access roads to the dish positions where the antenna platforms will be constructed, and the structural concrete foundations for the 24 telescope dishes. The camp will include facilities for wastewater and sewage treatment, settling ponds, water storage and security fencing. 

Concor will also be building four guardhouses, which will be powered by solar energy. OptiPower will carry out the electrification of the works and the provision of fibre connectivity to the new installation with approximately 60 km of trenching, electrical power cables, fibre ducting and fibre cables required. The Concor-OptiPower venture (COP) will also design a further 109 satellite foundations, with the associated roads, power and fibre installation. 

“A key constraint of this current project is the need to limit any radio frequency interference (RFI) in the vicinity of the MeerKAT telescope array,” says Nell. “This is due to the highly sensitive nature of the radio telescope equipment, which is designed to detect extremely weak radio signals from astrophysical sources.”

He highlights that RFI from manmade radio signals emanating from commonly used equipment like cellular phones, vehicle electronics, microwave ovens and many more can easily distort or corrupt weaker signals, and even damage the telescopes themselves. 

“This means that we have set up our office in the town of Carnarvon, some 100 km from the site,” he says. “We are in the design stage of the project, and will begin work on site in June this year.”

Nearer the time of site establishment, a specialised RFI container will be established on site from which the team can communicate and operate certain electronic equipment. The container will be insulated to prevent any signal reaching the telescopes. Dealing with the RFI means that every vehicle and item of equipment required on site will need to be tested and certified, says Concor site agent Roy van Leeve. 

“We have employed an RFI expert to test our equipment and submit the necessary data to the client,” says van Leeve. “After careful analysis of this data, we will be granted a permit for that particular item of machinery or advised what steps need to be taken before machinery can be passed for use on site.”

He notes that just about every model of construction vehicle built within the last decade is likely to include telematics, which presents a potential RFI risk in this project. The construction camp itself also needs to be located a suitable distance from the MeerKAT site to avoid RFI, so it is planned to be about 15 km away. 

For the roadwork, Concor will be operating in a geological environment of mainly sandstone and calcrete, overlying mudstone and shale, where 20 tonne hydraulic excavators will be put to work. 

“It is vital that the roads be well designed and constructed, especially in terms of their vertical and horizontal alignment,” he says. “This will ensure that the low-beds and other heavy trucks delivering construction material and large componentry can navigate the route safely.”

For the radio telescopes’ concrete foundations, Concor will be using two methods depending on conditions. Where bedrock founding conditions are deeper than three to four metres, eight piles will be cast for each foundation’s seven metre diameter cap; most of the foundations will be done this way. In those cases where bedrock is shallower, a pad foundation will be cast with an 11 metre cap.

The limited number of foundations has meant that Concor’s common practice of establishing its own on-site batch plant is not feasible. Instead, the concrete will be sourced commercially – presenting another logistical challenge.

“We will require about 5,000 t of concrete aggregates, which will have to be delivered some distance in trucks with capacity of 34 t each,” says Van Leeve. “Added to this, the trucks will need to undergo RFI testing well in advance, so that they have the necessary RFI permit to enter the site and discharge their load.”

The same restrictions apply, of course, to all suppliers that must deliver to site. Where the testing and permitting of vehicles is not possible or viable, he says that a certain amount of double-handling of equipment and materials is likely to be inevitable.

Broadly speaking, however, Concor’s proven track record on constructing similar projects has positioned it well for the work at MeerKAT, Nell says. The infrastructure aspects are quite similar to the eight wind farms that the company has constructed to date. It is also in the process of completing another two of these wind farms. 

“Contractually, we have been very successful in carrying out these projects efficiently and on time, in a spirit of collaboration that has overcome various challenges and earned us considerable repeat business from clients,” he says. “Our experienced management team and staff ensures that planning is detailed, and implementation is professional.”

Concor will also be making use of SMME suppliers from the local Kareeberg municipal area, which includes the towns of Carnarvon, Brandvlei, Williston, Loxton and Vanwyksvlei.

GREEN AWARD TO CONCOR FOR KHOBAB WIND FARM CONCRETE

A four-star Eco-Product Label has been awarded for the low cement concrete used by infrastructure contractor Concor to build wind turbine bases at Khobab Wind Farm in the Northern Cape.

The certificate was awarded by Eco Standard South Africa to the project manager Mainstream Renewable Power, the wind farm Khobab Wind (RF) and Concor, commending the concrete’s low carbon footprint. According to Eco Standard South Africa, the replacement of cement by alternative material in the product saved over 1,9 tonnes of carbon dioxide from being emitted. 

The concrete was used to construct 61 wind turbine bases, each measuring 19 metres in diameter and consuming 60 readymix truckloads of concrete. According to Stephan Venter, contracts manager at Concor, the company’s commitment to Zero Harm includes high environmental standards as well as an acknowledgement that climate change is a major threat facing the planet.

“It is therefore important that we reduce our carbon footprint wherever we work, and our innovative approach to doing this often also reduces costs for our customers – as it did at Khobab,” says Venter. 

The remoteness of the site potentially meant trucking 80,000 tonnes of aggregate required for the concrete bases – some 3,600 truckloads – from the nearest existing source 300 km away. Instead, Concor was able to identify a deposit of more suitable dolerite close to site, and establish its own quarry and crushing facilities. 

“This substantially reduced the carbon footprint of the material,” Venter says. “It also resulted in greater economy for the project as a whole, as we could generate our own stone rather than relying on a commercial source.”

The low carbon concrete mix design was achieved by substituting cement with ground granulated blast furnace slag (GGBFS) or fly ash. For the Khobab project, GGBFS was sourced as a waste product from the steel works at Saldanha Bay in the Western Cape. 

Cyril Attwell of ARC Innovations, who consulted to Concor for the concrete designs, says that the average carbon footprint on the bases at the Khobab Wind Farm was 90,7kg.CO2/m³. The average carbon footprint for a standard 30MPa readymix concrete base is from 290 to 340kg.CO2/m³.

“What is also significant is that with the demanding application in the turbine bases – completed in 2016 – there could not be any compromise in the strength and durability of the concrete,” he says. 

The blinding for each base was done with a 95% cement replacement, while the concrete for the bases themselves achieved a 90% cement replacement. Whereas 320 to 360 kg of cement is normally required for a cubic metre of concrete to reach 30 MPa in strength, the use of low carbon cementitious replacements allowed this proportion to be reduced to just 35 kg. The average strength achieved in the Khobab bases was 42,1 MPa, while in the blinding this was 22,3 MPa.

“Testing of the concrete mix options was conducted for six months before the project, to identify the optimal mix for the application,” Attwell says. “In the years since the contract was completed, we have continued to test at intervals and have confirmed that the strength and durability have increased year on year.”

“The embodied carbon emissions in slag is just 10% of the level in cement,” he says. “Fly ash is orders of magnitude lower, at just 0,1% compared to cement. Using these cement replacements, it is possible to significantly reduce a project’s carbon footprint.”

The low carbon concrete mixes were specially designed to ensure the same setting parameters as more conventional mixes. Attwell notes that a high slag or ash content in concrete tends to extend the setting time from the normal four to six hours to as long as 24, 48 or even 72 hours. The specialised concrete mixes also allowed the project to deal with a severe shortage of suitable water, as the site was in an arid region which was also experiencing drought conditions. 

“The only groundwater available contained sulphate levels six times higher than normal concrete required,” he says. “This would have led to delayed ettringite formation (DEF) and a rapid deterioration of the concrete in the months after it had set.”

Eco Standard South Africa also commended the concrete’s use of recycled water, which was appropriate for this water scarce region and also reduced the requirement for the disposal of concrete wastewater. 

CONCOR’S EXPERTISE PAVES SA’S RENEWABLE FUTURE

Concor is completing its 10th wind farm project where the majority was constructed as an engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contractor, highlighting its niche expertise and capability in this segment.

According to Concor contracts director Joe Nell, the company has been especially busy during the fourth round of the Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement (REIPPP) programme.

“We were awarded five projects during this last round, and were able to successfully implement four of them at the same time,” says Nell. “This performance is testament to our highly skilled and experienced teams on the ground, and our strong balance sheet to apply all necessary resources to each project’s particular demands.”

He highlights the tight timeframes in these projects, which were capable of delivering power to the national grid within two years of the project agreement being signed off. In most projects, Concor met a schedule of just 16 to 17 months, which included an initial four-month design phase.

The company’s contracts began with one of the country’s first wind farms – the 60-turbine project at Jeffreys Bay. More projects followed near Noupoort, De Aar and Loeriesfontein – often remote and with challenging conditions related to geology or weather. Four projects were then run concurrently – Perdekraal East in the Witzenberg district, Excelsior near Swellendam, Golden Valley near Cookhouse and Kangnas near Springbok.

“The most recent wind farm is Roggeveld, in the mountains between Matjiesfontein and Sutherland, where cold conditions and snowfalls forced the site’s closure on numerous occasions,” says Nell. “This created its own challenges which added to the experience of our teams.”

The wind farms that Concor has constructed now contribute over 1,000 MW of electricity to South Africa’s grid capacity. Nell says the company’s success in these projects has been based on its corporate values: care, trust, delivery, agility and teamwork.

ANOTHER WIND FARM SUCCESS FOR CONCOR

Concor has put its stamp of experience and quality on another renewable energy project – this time the Roggeveld Wind Farm in the Karoo, 40 km north of Matjiesfontein. This project won the Civil Engineering category in Construction World’s Best Projects 2020. It also received a Highly Commended Award in the AfriSam Innovation in Sustainable Construction category.

The 47-turbine, 147 MW project has been developed by Red Rocket under government’s REIPPPP initiative, and constructed by EPC contractor Nordex Energy South Africa. Concor successfully completed the civil balance of plant work, including turbine bases spread over a construction footprint of 40 hectares.

Among the challenges was the area’s topography, with the highest point at 1 485 metres above sea level and the site offices a full 200 metres lower. Greg Oosthuizen, Concor’s project manager, notes that the wind farm is also in an environmentally sensitive area, with strict compliance standards applied to all construction activities.

Accessing the sites for the wind turbine bases and hard stands was over difficult terrain, and required the construction of 34 km of access roadway. The blasting, excavation and cleaning of each site was followed with the pouring of blinding and installation of levelling legs. About 2000 tonnes of steel reinforcing was used.

Then came the final installation of the levelling template, with corrugated sleeves in the foundation for anchoring the concrete towers, which are grouted into the foundation once assembled. Shuttering could then be installed, preparing the base for the readymix pour. Some 25 000 m3 of readymix was used, supplied from Concor’s own on-site batch plant.

Oosthuizen points out, however, that the batch plant presented logistical challenges of its own. It was some distance from the actual wind farm project, and about 12 km from the nearest turbine base.

“We operated ten readymix trucks on the project, and carefully managed efficiencies at the batch plant to reduce the turnaround time of these vehicles,” he says. “We also had to adjust the pumping rate when pouring the readymix at the bases.”

He emphasises that there was little room for error in base construction, especially regarding the tolerances for the levelling template. While different teams were working simultaneously on the base construction, it was viewed as one activity.

“We found that open communication between the teams was critical, and we relied on the Daily Safe Task Instructions to ensure that everyone was aligned with what was required,” he says.

Roggeveld Wind Farm will contribute 555 000 MWh a year of clean energy to the national grid, and its location in a wind channel with high wind speeds will make it one of the most energy efficient of South Africa’s wind farms built to date. With hub heights of 100 metres and rotor diameters of 130 metres, 40 of the wind turbines are 3,15 MW capacity while seven are 3 MW.

OXFORD PARKS PHASE 2 – ANOTHER CONCOR BUILDINGS SUCCESS STORY

Oxford Parks is an architectural focal point along Oxford Road in Rosebank. On completion, this site will house five buildings on a master basement structure. Oxford Parks Phase 2 is a testimony to meticulous coordination on the part of Concor Buildings to ensure the concurrent construction of three different buildings would run smoothly.

This phase includes the simultaneous construction of 203 Oxford Road – Life Healthcare’s new

10 000 m2 head office, 8 Parks Boulevard – a 4 000 m2 multi-tenanted building housing inter alia Metier Private Equity and G+D Currency Technology, and 6 Parks Boulevard – 3 400 m2 offices for Arup, Sony Music  and Sony Publishing.

The buildings, together with Phase 1, 199 Oxford Road, were designed to complement each other, and their respective footprints fit together in a jigsaw puzzle configuration, proportionately occupying the site to optimise the usage of this prime pedestrian precinct with its generous public environment.

Through bold yet sensitive design of the buildings, together with the hard and soft landscaping of the outdoor piazza area, a natural environment was created ensuring a harmonious blend of business, life and leisure for the end user. Accommodating all parking in basements has shaped a precinct that is pedestrian friendly and offers a safe retail experience.

Martin Muller, Concor Buildings’ contracts manager, explains that all the buildings are constructed to be compliant with Green Star design requirements. 199 Oxford Road in Phase 1 achieved a 5-Star Green Star rating. All specifications on the project are in line with Green Star requirements and the buildings in Phase 2 are also designed to achieve 5-Star Green Star ratings.

A comprehensive Environmental Management Plan was adopted that amongst many criteria, specified the installation of waste management systems to maximise recycling from waste generated on the project. Another environmental intervention was the installation of state-of-the-art HVAC systems in all the buildings presenting energy saving, efficiency and sustainability features including air-cooled systems to eliminate water usage.

To optimise energy usage during occupation, different striking façades provide the respective buildings with both aesthetic interest and added energy benefits.

Muller emphasises Concor Buildings’ commitment to health and safety on site. “Creating a strong safety culture is always a challenge on bigger projects with a large number of subcontractors but Concor’s pledge to its Stop.Think.Act initiative has seen active involvement becoming a trend on site.”

“Visible Felt Leadership from the entire production and safety team ensures that contractors, subcontractors and tenant contractors execute work safely at all times. This is vital as on average there are 350 workers from 22 different contractors on site and this will increase as tenants start with their fit-out activities,” he says.

The COVID lockdown added a new level of challenges and anxiety to the construction industry. According to Muller, through early preparation and policy implementation, Concor Buildings ensured it was ready to start again on site once the lockdown restriction relaxation allowed construction to commence on 1 June 2020. Implemented daily scanning points, wash stations, social distancing measures, signage and continual communication led to construction activities being back on track from day one after the restrictions were removed.

Risk management became a particularly important part of this project considering that the lockdown delayed construction by more than two months. Concor Buildings has clearly demonstrated its agility value by completing the buildings in, or close to, the originally contracted completion dates.

During this period, Concor Buildings ring-fenced long-lead manufacturing items and key focus points with the client, subcontractors and suppliers. These pro-active interventions ensured all materials were delivered on time allowing subcontractors to finish off when the client required the areas for tenants to take occupation. These measures also ensured the contractor could mitigate most of the additional costs due to the COVID lockdown period, ensuring practical completion (PC) dates are achieved as per the contract.

Sony Music, Sony Publishing and Arup have taken occupation of 6 Parks Boulevard, which was completed on time. The first and second tenants in 8 Parks Boulevard took official occupation on 1 September 2020, a week earlier than the extended practical completion date of 9 September 2020. Again, testimony to Concor’s agility and commitment to meeting project targets.

The Life Healthcare tenant installation in 203 Oxford Road started ground and first floor handover on 10 August 2020 with all other floor level handovers on track with overall building practical completion on 2 November 2020. This date, which was extended due to lockdown delays, will be achieved through client and professional team assistance, identifying risks and dealing with these before they occur, dedicated resources and time management on the buildings.

Muller adds: “As is the case on all the projects we undertake, quality plays a major part in the execution of this project. Progressive snagging is implemented to ensure that works are checked and signed off as completed by each trade. This practice results in a minimised snag list of items to attend to once the buildings are complete, ensuring that the end user experience is not spoiled by contractors fixing incomplete works once tenants have taken occupation.”

This was a particularly challenging period, but through Concor Buildings’ commitment to its values, one of which is care, the contractor is still producing an upmarket and modern product while demonstrating care towards all parties on site and careful attention to the various features of this complex project.