Elematic from Finland, a world leader in the manufacture of precast concrete plants and production lines, recently showcased the benefits of prefabrication in the affordable housing sector at the African Construction and Totally Concrete Expo, at Gallagher Estate in Johannesburg.
Elematic’s area director, Curt Lindroth spoke of reduced costs, design efficiencies, housing longevity, a reduction in manpower, time and materials as well as greater safety on site as some of the benefits offered.
He gave an example of local raw materials with which the method offers a faster construction speed. In a situation where using conventional construction methods supplied 15 x 1 000 sq ft apartments in a month, the prefabricated structure supplied 45 apartments of the same size in the same period of time.
Over the years, advances in precast technology and design have opened a myriad of possibilities for housing and the planning of urban environments, something that South Africa, and other developing cities can make good use of in the supply of a greater number of houses, more quickly while still making financial savings.
According to Mr. Lindroth, prefabrication removes the need for shuttering and scaffolding and requires less transportation to site and less materials and equipment. Prefabricated elements are easily installed with cranes, and offer better quality control and create safer working conditions. No brickwork is needed, less steel is consumed and prefabrication offers a longer building lifespan with less maintenance.
Precast concrete’s components make it a natural choice in achieving sustainability in new buildings. The structures need no chemical treatment thereby eliminating fumes. Additionally, it is a solid and secure structure, offering security for occupants as the prefabricated concrete panel is impact resistant and difficult to break or cut through.
Offering corrosion resistant properties, prefabricated concrete is also fire proof, rot proof and rust proof. Termites, rats, mice and other vermin will not threaten the precast structure, as they do with more traditional building materials, as the components of the precast concrete make it inedible.
Prakash Shah, head of technical support at Elematic explained that precast is a modular building system based on ready-made, factory manufactured components and intelligent connections.
It is a smart and industrialised way to construct cost-efficient buildings. “Modern plants are scaled to meet the precast need. The same production line allows the manufacture of precast products from affordable to high-end housing, as well as for factories and office complexes,” said Shah.