BUILDING: Light Steel Building To Improve
Recent Western Cape Business News
AFTER a prolonged and significant slump in the local building industry, there are signs of recovery which will positively affect the light steel frame building (LSFB) industry. This is the opinion of Southern African Light Steel Frame Building Association (SASFA) director John Barnard.
“It’s difficult to downplay the extent of the downturn in our industry,” says Barnard. “According to Stats SA, the floor area of all buildings completed in 2010 in the RSA was 40% lower than in 2007 and, with a decline of 47%, the residential sector was hardest hit.”
But Barnard says that, based on building plans recently passed, the decline in residential building activity seems to have bottomed out, and that activity should increase in 2011. This, he says, is also reflected in a SASFA survey of expectations of the manufacturers of light steel framing.
“After the doldrums of the past two years, we welcome the industry’s optimism for 2011,” Barnard says.
In fact, several manufacturers already have fuller order books than they have had for nearly 18 months. “We believe that this is not only indicative of an upturn in the economy but also of the increasingly established acceptance of LSFB as a viable alternative building method,” he says. There are a number of interesting projects on the cards, which will be built using LSFB technology.
In anticipation of a busier industry SASFA has identified key focus areas, with training high on the list of priorities. In this regard the main thrust will revolve around three courses:
• a 6-day course for building contractors and developers;
• a full day course on the SANS 517 code (CPD accredited) aimed at designers, developers and building contractors, and
• a half day course for building inspectors, supervisors and foremen.
“Training and the transfer of information generally is crucial to the ongoing success of the LSFB industry and, apart from the courses, we will also continue to lecture to architecture, engineering and building science students at the major South African universities,” Barnard says. “There is a growing number of engineering students at the University of Pretoria undertaking research projects into certain aspects of LSFB, as part of their final year studies.”
“Also, to help in the general dissemination of information to the industry, SASFA will expand its library of articles and books relevant to the LSFB industry.”
Another focus area will be the investigation of technical developments in the industry worldwide by the SASFA Technical Committee. “We are serious about keeping up with the latest technology and implementing relevant advances in the South African market,” Barnard says.
Finally, quality management and control will also be a priority for the association in 2011. Firstly, a series of tests are planned to validate and optimize the wall, roof and floor assemblies covered in SANS 517:2009. Secondly, the roll-out of the SASFA accreditation programme will continue, with the initial focus on LSFB manufacturers. “We initiated this phase during 2010 by presenting a short training course on quality management systems to a group of manufacturers,” says Barnard.
SASFA manufacturing members will be invited to apply for accreditation assessment, which will then be carried out by an independent assessor.
Barnard says that SASFA will continue to act as the ‘quality custodian’ of the industry, and will investigate projects involving its members when requested to do so, with the aim of facilitating remedial action and successful completion of the projects.
SASFA is a division of the Southern African Institute of Steel Construction (SAISC).
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