THE role that Cement & Concrete SA (CCSA) plays in the promotion of concrete and the assistance it provides to users of the world’s oldest building material – even at relatively layman’s level – should not be overlooked, says technical specialist at CCSA’s School of Concrete Technology, John Roxburgh.
Roxburgh says the official and main mission of CCSA – the voice of the SA cement and concrete industry – is to create shared value and industry growth through driving collaboration, skills development, innovation, and the highest standards in sustainable cement and concrete materials and products.
“However, a less conspicuous role that CCSA plays is the extensive service it provides to the general public. This contact can be through telephonic or email inquiries, visits to the CCSA website, or personally calling at the CCSA offices in Midrand. CCSA’s vast experience provides a great ‘sounding board’ for ideas with suggestions that could save innovators hours in development and application,” he states.
Roxburgh says he has personally helped many enthusiasts produce innovative concrete pots, furniture or concrete jewellery; DIY enthusiasts build their own concrete countertops; farmers build reservoirs and concrete strip roads; and diverse entrepreneurs start their own flooring businesses or precast yards.
“But probably the most exciting people I have dealt with are the innovators. These ‘concrete inventors’ constantly show the huge innovative scope of cement and concrete. Some come with crazy ideas but others have amazing, exciting concepts and infectious enthusiasm. A striking example is Carl Supra.”
Roxburgh met Supra about 10 years ago at a trade show when Supra approached him to discuss technical aspects of an innovative low-density concrete building system using light plastic shutter that Supra was working on. “Carl’s passion and speciality is plastic moulding which ideally complements his substantial industrial design knowledge. He has designed and developed many products, including a revolutionary one-piece pool cleaner. Having spent many hours as a youngster pottering in a concrete testing laboratory managed by his uncle, Carl was not new to concrete and has for years seen the potential of combining his plastic moulding knowledge with concrete. He has ingeniously used the technical advice CCSA has given him and two excellent new products, developed for his company, Polycrete Eco-Panels, have resulted from his association with CCSA.
“Firstly, he became aware of the need for locally-produced plastic cube moulds. So, he promptly designed and produced one. This has resulted in the only South African-produced plastic 100mm and 150mm cube moulds which are now manufactured locally by Polycrete Eco-Panels – over 10 000 are already in use in SA.
“More recently, CCSA introduced Carl to textile concrete and again, he quickly developed an extremely versatile textile concrete wall panelling system based on an ingenious internal thin filmed plastic shuttering system that works well with roll-formed light steel-framed building sections. The panels are both structurally sound and lightweight with a unique concrete mix design that accepts nails as if wood. The simplicity of the panel construction – along with almost no capital outlay – could become a relatively easy new business for anyone wanting to produce these panels,” Roxburgh adds.
He feels Supra’s concrete achievements should be an inspiration to all other innovators to work with CCSA to expand and apply their concrete ‘inventions’. “It clearly shows that potential entrepreneurs should make full use of the technical resources available to concrete users at all levels, not only big budget corporates and major industry. Budding entrepreneurs should not hesitate to speak to CCSA to help develop the small businesses South Africa needs right now,” he adds.