PPC - SOLUTIONS DRIVEN APPROACH

Solutions-driven approach critical to ensure lasting road design

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As more South Africans invest in cars of their own, our local road infrastructure remains under pressure both in terms of new road development and existing road maintenance. A lack of product knowledge and inadequate understanding of the properties of different construction materials is adding to this challenge, with many contractors starting to rely on consultants to meet skills and delivery-related gaps. Thabiso Maloa, Technical Consultant at PPC, argues that closer partnerships with suppliers can lead to better results, ensuring roads are built to last…

South Africa’s road infrastructure remains a critical enabler across the country. “Our roads are our primary connectors – supported by rail, ship and air transport infrastructure,” explains Thabiso Maloa, Technical Consultant at PPC. “Because of the significant investment a road represents, it’s important to ensure that they’re not only built correctly but also appropriately maintained to ensure extended lifespan. As new or ‘challenger’ construction companies start moving into this opportunity space, suppliers and manufacturers of road materials and solutions need to create value-adding partnerships that ensure delivery objectives are met.”

Challenges in road construction often occur at the very beginning of projects. “A lack of product knowledge and inadequate understanding of materials’ properties can mean that projects are compromised both from a quality and cost perspective. There are additionally very few credible testing laboratories across the country. As a result, a disproportionate amount of time is often spent retesting or trying to analyse soil samples and develop mix designs – all of which have a material cost in terms of time and money.”

With many regions across the country having soil with high clay content (or plastic index), contractors also often need to approach road design in these areas using a combination of solutions. “While the starting point is product selection (i.e. using a product like PPC Sureroad that has been extended with limestone), project managers need to test throughout construction to improve unconfined compressive strength and indirect tensile strength of the road.” These tests should include materials design testing, process control testing (to ensure that constructed layers meet the required standards) and comparative testing – to determine whether two or more laboratories obtain the same results.

PPC’s response to the above has been to work with accredited laboratories to facilitate testing and create custom designs based on the needs of clients – at no additional cost. “We also work closely with consulting engineers throughout the project: from design to final laying of the road.”

Maloa adds that something as simple as bulk spreading can also make a massive difference in the rollout, completion and future maintenance of the road. “By working with project managers to understand spreading calculations and designing the product mix appropriately, and then facilitating strength and moisture control tests, we can provide a seamless bulk spreading solution.”

With the construction and maintenance of roads set to remain a regional and national priority well into the future, Maloa explains that taking a solutions-driven approach with suppliers can potentially give construction companies an edge in the market: “Partnerships remain key to long term success both for smaller and large scale projects. By drawing on the expertise and cost efficiencies suppliers can unlock in contracts, road developers can ensure they not only deliver on time and within budget, but create and maintain roads that meet the country’s needs.”

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