AfriSam’s Centre of Product Excellence (CPE) develops and tests products to comply with requirements for specialised applications and project specifications, and also conducts extensive analyses and forensic investigation to determine the root causes of shortcomings and develop solutions.
Technical advice includes assistance in designing mixes for specialised applications. CPE consultants are available countrywide to provide trouble-shooting services and technical assessment of materials and processes at the customer’s site. Where required, our consultants arrange for trial mixes and other testing services to be carried out in controlled laboratory conditions at their SANAS accredited Roodepoort laboratories.
The department is able to conduct detailed investigations into situations where concrete has not achieved the required performance characteristics for which it was designed.
Projects researching different properties of cements, supplementary cementitious materials, aggregates and concrete, are initiated and carried out in conjunction with customers, universities and other bodies. Current projects include an eight-year assessment of the effects of highly corrosive environments on concretes made with differing proportions and types of raw materials. These test results form the baseline for a custom-built computer programme which enables architects and contractors to specify the correct grade of concrete for the prevailing environmental conditions. This programme is available on request; contact the CPE or visit the AfriSam website for further details.
Internal training is provided by the CPE to assist sales and other staff members who deal directly with customers, covering product knowledge and best construction practices to assist them in adding value during customer interactions. External training typically results from investigation into problems encountered on-site, and focuses on taking product and application knowledge to AfriSam customers, as well as ensuring that customers are aware of correct sampling and testing issues.
The CPE runs an annual programme to promote Civil Engineering student interaction with AfriSam processes at various levels. Courses, practicals and site visits for students from the Universities of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg and Pretoria, as well as UNISA ensure that these students gain detailed knowledge of cement manufacturing processes, our products and quality controls, and a better understanding of concrete durability issues. This programme includes organising access to AfriSam laboratories in the Cape, KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng for UNISA Civil Engineering students completing their practical assignments.
The CPE provides critical professional input to numerous industry boards, and also serves on various committees including South African Bureau of Standards (SABS), Cement and Concrete SA and Association of Cementitious Materials Producers (ACMP), playing a leading role in the different technical work groups.