Category: Manufacturing

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Using light steel frames to construct buildings is not only faster than conventional building methods, but also contains less embodied carbon – which is the amount of energy used in the entire manufacturing chain of a particular product, says light steel frame association the Southern African Light Steel Frame Building Association (Sasfa). Building methods using light-steel-frame building (LSFB) have until recently not been widely accepted by the architectural industry, as it was deemed unsuitable for complex and creative design. Print Send to Friend 1 0 However, Sasfa claims that, in the recent past in South Africa, not only has this “exciting building method” become increasingly accepted in the mainstream architectural and construction industries, it has also been shown that an architect can design almost any building or structure and have it executed with LSFB. The most recent example is the expansion at the well-known Vrede en Lust farm, in Boland, in the Western Cape, which used light steel frames as part of the venue’s function and wedding accommodation structures. This was built in a typical Cape Dutch style so that it would blend in with the existing buildings on the farm – some dating back to the early 1700s.

The owners decided that it should be a five-star facility, an energy efficient building with enhanced acoustic insulation between rooms, top-class finishes and, most importantly, had to be built within six months as a turnkey project. LSFB contractor The Silverline Group was contracted for the structural engineering, the detail shop drawings, and the total construction project including civil works and finishes. The project began on May 4 last year and the first wedding ceremony was successfully held at the venue on November 7. Sasfa director John Barnard says that the speed of construction possible with LSFB allows the facility to be in use quicker than is possible with other building methods, thereby producing income long before it would otherwise have been possible with conventional building methods. It is not only the speed of construction that saves money in the long term, he says, adding that by using LSFB material, wastage can be reduced significantly, transport costs slashed by up to 80% and the carbon footprint significantly reduced. Barnard states that LSFB is significantly more energy efficient than more traditional construction methods, both with regard to embodied energy of the materials and components, as well as operational energy relating to heating and cooling of the building over its design life. At Vrede en Lust, aluminium-zinc coated, high-strength steel sheet was used for the light steel structure and was roll-formed on a Framecad roll-forming machine. The roof trusses were designed by Silverline Group using software solutions and roof trusses company Mitek’s UltraSpan software. All windows were specified to be single-glazed aluminium frames – owing to the high R-values of the insulated walls, double-glazing was not required. To achieve the Cape Dutch design, a special cobbling plaster, designed by architectural company Malherbe Rust Architects, was used. The building was finished internally with full skim plaster on 15 mm high-impact cement company Lafarge’s gypsum boards with 102 mm Cavitybatt insulation supplied by insulation solutions company Isover. Silverline Group CEO Charl van Zyl says that, with fully skimmed ceilings in all bedrooms, down lighters were the perfect fit for the luxury room designs. Acoustic ceilings were fitted in the kitchen, front entrance and boardroom and restaurant. All bathroom walls were clad with fibre cement board and waterproofed, fully skimmed and painted. He adds that this was one of the most enjoyable and fulfilling projects that his team has undertaken. “We enjoyed working with owners Dana Buys and Ettienne Buys and to implement the Cape Dutch design, we were lucky enough to work with top professionals in the design and construction arenas. It is most pleasing to see that the advantages of LSFB is applicable to all buildings whatever their shape and design and I believe that this building puts to rest any doubt that LSFB will soon become the building method of choice for developers and architects alike,” concludes Van Zyl.

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The City has completed the General Valuation for 2015.

Property owners will soon receive an official notice in the post or via e-mail, advising
them of the 2015 valuation of their property/properties. This is the first year that the total valuation of all rateable properties has passed the trillion rand mark in value.

The City’s latest general valuation shows that the total valuation of all rateable properties has increased from R911 billion in 2012 to R1 156 billion in 2015. Property owners would therefore be encouraged to see that their property investment is still increasing in value in most areas in Cape Town.

In total there are 845 764 rateable properties on the General Valuation Roll (GVR) for 2015. The largest portion of properties comprises residential properties (719 681). It also includes, among others, 31 296 commercial properties.

The General Valuation (GV) for 2015 was signed off by the Municipal Valuer on 29 January 2016. It was published on 19 February 2016. Property owners will also be able to view the latest GVR for 2015 by visiting www.capetown.gov.za/propertyvaluations.

The manufacturing sector, like almost every other corner of the South African economy is facing difficulties. Given what has happened with the rand in recent weeks, things are likely to get worse.  Steel and Engineering Industries Federation of Southern Africa (Seifsa) chief economist Henk Langenhoven, says that, in terms of imported machinery used for manufacturing products, the impact of the rand has not been significant because of a slump in global demand for that equipment and the price thereof.

For final products, parts and other imported inputs, however, the rand will have will have a more direct impact. Against the dollar, the rand has depreciated by 45% in the year to January 20, and Langenhoven says the cost will be too much for smaller manufacturers to handle and that there is a real risk that some companies may have to close down.

“The smaller (companies) get hammered more,” says Langenhoven. “I spoke to a business owner yesterday who has to keep at least $1 million worth of stock and must maintain it at that level. Doing that will now cost him much more. And he runs a small company.”

According to Philippa Rodseth, executive director of the Manufacturing Circle, the rand had already been a major concern for the industry body’s members, even before the currency’s December and early-January decline. The Manufacturing Circle bulletin for the third quarter of 2015 revealed that imported input costs make up to 40% of total input costs of almost 70% of companies surveyed. However some companies are benefitting from the rand as exporters gain price competitiveness and local manufacturers benefit from import substitution.

Rodseth says 44% of the manufacturers surveyed experienced an increase in the volume of export sales for the quarter. “This compares with 41% of the respondents experiencing an increase in the volume of domestic sales for the quarter.”

Export-depreciation

Source: IMF

Export volumes do not grow/respond to exchange rate deprecation

That said, the net impact for the industry has not been positive, with Langenhoven saying the benefit to exporters has been negated by other factors, such as intermittent electricity supply, political [factors], labour unrest, internal politics and low demand both locally and globally.

“Exports declined in nominal terms by 2.4% during 2015 and when adjusted for the rand depreciation, by 23.3%. This is evidence of the weak market conditions and inability of the sector to respond to better (rand) prices,” says Langenhoven, referencing an International Monetary Fund study .

“The structural constraints in our economy, according to the study, inhibit us from taking full benefit of exchange rate depreciation.”

Speaking to Moneyweb recently, Barclays Africa economist Miyelani Maluleke echoed this, saying the rand’s big depreciation had not been reflected in “parts of the manufacturers that that are outward-oriented or those that produce goods that can substitute imports would benefit.”

Rodseth says that, while it is possible for the weak rand to encourage import substitution, there needs to be consistency, as a volatile exchange rate makes planning for expansion difficult.

“Furthermore, reliable and consistent supply of utilities is important to support growth. And lastly, strong demand conditions by the countries into which we export is critical,” she says.

The recently released Barclays Purchasing Managers Index (PMI), which reflects the state of the manufacturing sector, showed that prospects were weak. Although the index rose from a more than six-and-a-half-year low point in December, up from an over six-year low of 43.3 points in November 2015 to 45.5 in December, it still remained below the neutral 50-point mark.

 

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