Top issues faced at annual Sarma conference

01 September 2015

This year’s Readymix Conference by Sarma was bigger and better than ever before with a host of speakers shedding light

on some of the biggest issues affecting the industry today. Everything from power shortages and struggling economies, to rising opportunities and the next housing boom were examined and unpacked for the 200-strong audience to digest. More than 30 sponsors and exhibitors were also at hand to show the latest products and services available to the industry.

Among them were prime sponsors PPC along with the other major cement suppliers, truck and equipment manufacturers, chemical, formwork and financial service providers, as well as a strong media contingent to record proceeding and provide coverage from the event. Some of the highlights included:

Bagged cement stunting readymix

The readymix concrete industry supplies a meagre 15% of concrete used in South Africa as opposed to similar-sized markets around the world – where readymix comprises up to 75% of the concrete used in these countries.

While this is an alarming statistic according to construction specialist Don Schoeman of Crowbar Solutions, it represents an opportunity for the industry to win away market share from competing segments and should form the basis of a new strategy for the readymix industry to pursue.

According to Don the majority of cement supplied in South Africa is bagged cement sold through retails outlets. Of all bags sold, the vast majority is sold through just a handful of retailers who employ slick marketing techniques to keep customers coming back for more. In addition, the enormous buying power of these retailers continues to force cement producers to slash prices of bagged cement which enables them to maintain low prices compared with smaller users (such as the readymix industry).

He suggests Sarma should represent the industry to establish a united buying group and negotiate better pricing for its members. With more competitive pricing he suspects the market share of readymix will increase exponentially in time.

Cleaning-up concrete’s act

Sarma will establish a dedicated spill clean-up team to remove spillages on roads in Gauteng, initially, before branching out to all other major centres of the country. The Gauteng team will be set up as an experimental initiative in response to pressure from communities to remove unsightly and dangerous spills from our roads. According Sarma general manager, Johan van Wyk, the clean-up of spilled concrete is an expensive exercise and the first leg alone will cost a staggering R700 000 in its first six months of operation. He said that it is a proactive step that is hoped will put Sarma members in a good light as responsible members of the community.

All readymix companies in Gauteng have already been contacted and the team will have a six month period to clean up. Thereafter there will be a roll-out across the rest of the country.

Unburdening mixers

Many mixer trucks carry hundreds of kilograms of dried concrete in the mixing drums which seriously impedes fuel consumption as well as limits the amount of concrete that can be transported to sites.

In order to remove the concrete quickly and easily Sarma is currently working with a start-up company to import a high-tech machine that is able to remove the dried concrete with high pressure waterjets. So effective is the technology that one machine will be able to initially clean, and then maintain the entire fleet of trucks currently being operated by Sarma members throughout the country.

Compared with the current dangerous and damaging manual practices the new method does not require a person to enter the drum so will be considerably faster and morecost effective. Sarma will communicate a countrywide schedule with members as soon as the machine becomes operational.

A new chapter

Long-time servant of Sarma, Deon Fourie, announced that he will be stepping down as chairman of the association in October when elections will take place to establish a new board. Although he will be stepping down, there are new provisions in the constitution that will ensure he stays on Mancom in the new role of Immediate Past Chairman. Another change to the constitution also makes provision for companies (rather than individuals) to be elected to the board to ensure continuity and ensure member companies are always represented even when individuals leave the company.

Press release 


Read the latest issue

Latest Issue