Rich in tradition like BFT International
Still today, the company is controlled by the Louw family in the third generation now and is producing with a workforce of about 300 people at a factory premises of more than 20 ha, using latest technologies, concrete pipes and manholes, curbstones, retaining and channel systems, precast stand elements for stadium construction, wall panels and floor slabs as well as many other products for the public construction and civil engineering industries. The prestressed-concrete bridge beams are the biggest individual elements of the portfolio; they are weighing 65 tons at a length of 37 m. In addition to that, numerous special components are offered such as fencing products, water tanks and hazardous waste and shielded waste containers, wine tanks, prefabricated garages, bus shelters and toilet cubicles as well as lighting poles made of concrete.
„Big Boys“ track record
„All our products, no matter whether pipes, manholes, or curbstones, convince by their consistently uniform appearance without any cracks. The only imperfections permitted are tiny holes on the face of the products and a certain roughness on the back of the products,“ general manager, John Watson, explains. „Moreover, we always comply with the tolerances for evenness of maximum 5 mm over a length of 1 m, and the characteristic compressive strength tested after 28 days averages 25 MPa.“
A mix of manual manufacturing and modern plant equipment
Another asset of the company is a very well-balanced mix of modern plant equipment and manual manufacturing, ensuring both an efficient production of high-quality concrete products and the preservation of numerous jobs. As far as the plant equipment is concerned, apart from the HawkeyePedershaab pipe machine mentioned above, a slipformer of Weiler for the production of prestressed-concrete hollow core slabs is worth mentioning. In addition, two used 80-ton cranes were bought at an auction so as to enable them to erect the wind turbine towers made of concrete elements independently. Two water tanks with a volume of 90,000 liters each serve for storing the large amounts of water needed for securing the supply during longer periods of drought.
Many other tasks, however, are carried out by the staff manually, starting with the production of reinforcement right through to the final quality control.
„Kassel Kerb“ as another main pillar
„We base our particular strength on more than one but several pillars,“ added plant manager, Johan Nel, in answering the question about other products. „The ‚Big Boys‘ are, of course, our flagship number 1; anyhow, we are in the position to respond quite fast to customer requirements and business trends. Hence, we were able to manage, for example, that the public bus stops in greater Cape Town are furnished with the innovative curbstone system ‚Kassel Kerb‘; this was added by additional system components such as an orientation system for blind people through to bus stop shelters made of concrete. By the way, in this field we have been maintaining a successful cooperation with our German partner, Profilbeton, based in the Hessian city of Borken, for several years.“ Upon request of the BFT editorial staff, this was confirmed by Carsten Hasch, the CEO of Profilbeton, stating: „Actually, an extremely fruitful collaboration has developed in this field. In this way, the patented special ‚Kassel Kerb‘ curbstone could develop to an international success story and is not only produced by Cape Concrete in South Africa and by us in Borken, but also by the New Zealand manufacturer Busck under license.“ BFT International reported in issue 5/2013 about new equipment of the Profilbeton concrete production plant in Borken, including a BFS system and likewise new production boards of Wasa.
The considerable list of reference projects using the ‚Kassel Kerb‘ curbstone, which even found its way into the English-language edition of the Wikipedia encyclopedia (https://en.widipedia.org/wiki/Kassel_kerb), meanwhile reaches in Europe alone – exemplary in alphabetic order – from the Scottish Aberdeen via the German capital city of Berlin and the French Grenoble through to the Moravian Ostrava, the Spanish Valencia and the Dutch city of Zwolle.
Special elements complete the product portfolio
In addition to that, indication signs and decoration elements showing street names as orientation aids are made to order, generally placed by public administrations of cities and municipalities; they are a supplementary product to the ordinary curbstones.