Improving aggregate standards

07 June 2017

Aggregate producers need to embrace quality across all areas of their quarrying operations in order to obtain the kind of consistency required on modern construction sites.

This is according to Saartjie Duvenhage, chairperson of Aspasa’s technical committee on Quality Management, who adds that cooperation and communication are the key ingredients to delivering aggregates that conform to standards. She adds that authority should also be vested in those responsible for maintaining quality at every step of the process from the pit, to production, transport and ultimately sales and delivery of the product.

A slip at any one of these stages could undermine efforts and may lead to the delivery of inferior products. It follows therefore that ultimate responsibility should also be vested in managers of these departments who should have the authority to halt processes at any stage if there is a deviation from the set requirements.

Shared responsibility

“It is easy to see how conflicts can arise when you look at a typical operation in which production staff are often preoccupied with pushing production, sales staff with pushing sales and logistics staff making arrangements to store and transport the aggregates. On the other end, you have the quality inspectors and laboratories “slowing” down the process and getting in the way of reaching targets.

“To avoid conflict however, we have found that quality should be placed at the forefront of divisional managers’ key performance indicators (KPIs). They need to understand that without consistency and quality, their efforts are misguided. After all, quality gives marketers something unique to sell. Consistency gives them a good reputation. The catchpoint is that it does not help to have lots of product if your market is diminishing if you are losing clients due to quality concerns.

“Nowadays, buyers in construction firms are increasingly being tasked with finding quality rather than the cheapest materials. The aggregates industry is now being judged on quality as much as it is on price. Therefore, the channels of communication between seller and buyer needs to be clear to ensure the right product is delivered at the right price. If for whatever reason there is a variation in quality, this also needs to be communicated to the client who may either make allowance for the variation or not use it until the situation is remedied,” says Saartjie.

Risk mitigation 

She explains that quality inspectors and laboratory staff tasked with the monitoring of aggregates must be empowered to act and communicate directly with manager to make well informed decisions.

After all, if there is a comeback or a court case it will be decided by the results of the laboratory tests and the action taken by those in authority to remedy the situation. “Ultimately, if quality can be improved it will influence the entire operation positively in terms improved income and better long term relationships,” concludes Saartjie.

For more information contact Aspasa, Nico Pienaar, (011) 791 3327, Fax: 086 647 8034, Email: [email protected], Web:

Related articles

Read the latest issue

Latest Issue