SA French Helps M&D Construction Lift Northern Cape Skills
Sol Plaatje University in Kimberley is currently a hive of construction activity with three building contractors expanding this institution of higher learning that first opened its doors to students in 2014.
However, it is the new library and resource centre that will be the most impressive building on the campus when it is completed mid-2017.
Architect, Design Workshop, from Durban, KwaZulu-Natal, has specified an external and internal off-shutter finish for the new seven storey structure. This is in line with Sol Plaatje University’s brief to ensure that the library becomes the iconic focal point of the new university.
Tasked with undertaking this intricate work is M&D Construction. The contractor has a long track record building universities and, just as importantly, successfully completing a number of off-shutter construction projects. These include projects at the University of Mpumalanga and the University of Witwatersrand, where the building contractor was active for several years, following an open tender process with contracts awarded on the NEC Framework contracting options.
This is the second contract that M&D Construction is undertaking on the Sol Plaatje University campus. In February, it completed work on the four storey commercial building, comprising lecture venues and offices.
In December this year, M&D Construction will commence work on another building project neighbouring the existing site.
However, the building team already has a head start on this project considering the strategic positioning of its Potain MDT 178 tower crane currently working on the new library and resource centre at Sol Plaatje University.
Renell Samuel, building construction director at M&D Construction, says that the latest crane in its fleet was introduced to the site this year to complement the activities of its Potain E10/14C City Crane that has been working at the campus from the outset.
“We pre-empted the awarding of the third contract to M&D Construction. It was therefore decided to immediately position it in such a way that it would be able to more than adequately service the materials handling needs of both structures. This will not only save us time, but also significant erection costs,” says Samuel.
The new Potain MDT 178 tower crane was acquired from SA French, a division of Torre Industries, and works on the higher and more complex aspects of the structure. The other Potain tower crane services the materials handling requirements of the lower part of the library and resource centre.
Most of the Potain MDT178’s activities comprise handling and positioning the extensive climbing formwork for this complex build. It also shoulders the handling of the extensive construction materials needed to complete the building’s structural aspects, which was designed by structural engineer, Aurecon.
Together with the Potain E10/14C City Crane, it will also lift 5 000 m3 of concrete and about 400 tons of reinforcement bar over the duration of the contract.
M&D Construction’s fleet of five tower cranes are all Potain units. The building contractor started buying tower cranes from SA French eight years ago and has steadily added more of them to its fleet.
Samuel says that the contractor initially approached SA French for its crane requirements because of its high standing in the South African crane market.
SA French has represented Potain, a leading international tower crane original equipment manufacturer, for more than 30 years and both have long track records for successfully servicing the unique requirements of the building, civil and construction industries.
Potain’s ongoing extensive research and development efforts into lifting technologies are evident in the Potain MDT 178 operating on this site. The crane has a 60 metre (m) jib and 45 m hook height. It is able to lift a maximum of eight tons at 14,8 m and 1, 5 t at 60 m, and is equipped with a 33LVF20 hoist winch, wind speed meter and indicators in the cab.
Being a topless crane, the jib can be dismantled in five and 10 m sections; a major benefit on most modern building sites where space is at a premium.
Certainly, this is one of the biggest challenges that M&D Construction has encountered on this site, which it shares with it counterparts involved in the building of the other structures.
On the first contract, it was able to strategically place the Potain E10/14C City Crane with its maximum lifting capacities of four tons and 1,3 t at 45 m in the centre of the structure, saving significant costs on the build.
However, the current project has required significant planning around the positioning of the tower cranes. Working conditions are tighter and access to the site is limited to one entry point.
These complexities will be compounded when preparatory works commence on the third contract.
Samuel and his team are working to a very tight deadline. Like the first building completed on the campus, the contractor has committed to very strict completion deadlines for this project as well as the next.
Samuel attributes much of the success achieved by the building team to date to M&D Construction’s hands-on management approach that it applies to all its projects.
The company expects a similar mindset from all partners in its critical supply chain to help it adhere to its production targets. According to Samuel, SA French continues to meet these requirements.
“All cranes run the risk of a breakdown, but it is the aftermarket support of the local representative of the technology that ensures these important pieces of equipment are up-and-running quickly,” he says.
Samuel is also impressed by the competence of SA French’s technicians who assisted in the swift transportation of the crane to site and its prompt erection.
By July, M&D Construction had completed as much as 30% of the project, and Samuel is satisfied by the progress made by his team. He is also extremely proud of the opportunities these projects have created for members of the larger Kimberley community.
In line with the requirements of its client, M&D Construction will have trained about 150 local people in general building trades by the time it completes its framework contract. This is most noteworthy on a structure that is being built to produce the skills needed for the future.