The biggest challenge of building construction in Africa is the logistics in getting product to sites easily and safely –especially in remote regions. The cost of transport is often higher than the cost of the material, meaning the number of square metres of finished building per truck/container becomes the ultimate measure.Group Five manufacturing business unit Everite Buildings Products not only pioneered the division Advanced Building Technologies (ABT), which provides solutions to such typical construction challenges, but has more recently successfully launched it into the mining industry. The majority of new mining projects in Africa are only viable if mining companies are able to inject additional capital and investment into necessary infrastructure, which in remote regions includes building facilities, from housing and offices to change houses, as well as medical facilities and security offices. In the mining industry in particular, the need to erect such facilities quickly is also equally as important. ABT provides a fast and efficient alternative to traditional building practices without compromising on the quality of product being constructed on site. It uses alternative lightweight and durable building components from the Everite product stable (including its Nutec fibre cement flat sheets, walls, ceilings, roofs, piping and building columns) to construct a variety of ‘fit-for-purpose’ buildings, using low skilled labour, yet at a much higher speed of construction than its conventionally constructed competitors. Nutec flat sheets are manufactured from a combination of Portland cement, silica and organic fibres, and do not contain any asbestos fibres. These materials have considerable strength and do not deteriorate with age. It is unaffected by moisture, therefore ideal for internal and external use in almost any application. These factors facilitate easy handling and erection, and are major benefits on projects where low mass construction is an important factor, such as on uneven terrain where elevated light weight suspended floors can be used. It is non-combustible and provides perfect protection against flying sparks and flame spread. Being cementitious, it is corrosion-resistant and UV stable. The flat sheets are manufactured to the highest international quality standards and compliance is ensured through strict adherence to ISO standards. It is the ideal cladding for the ABT walling system and in combination with the engineered light gauge steel frame and EPS insulation core, creates a durable exterior building product. Although the walls are panelised and modular, the combination of these panels allows for design flexibility, with very few limitations in dimensional requirements of the building. Whether it is for accommodation units, offices, bathroom facilities, recreation, kitchen ordining facilities, ABT is able to meet the needs of each individual building design.
“ABT structures are also superior in terms of thermal insulation and overall comfort, and are more environment-friendly in comparison to conventionally constructed buildings,” says Andrew de Klerk, ABT technical manager.The best way to demonstrate the benefits of a modular panelised system is to show the actual product on the ground. When Group Five Projects was appointed to construct a mining camp in Lubumbashi, in the southern region of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the company selected ABT to construct all of the camp buildings. Another product edition to the Everite product stable is Flatts – a conventional 20 ft container in which three complete thermally insulated buildings are neatly folded. Each building has a 24 m2 footprint, with a total building space of 72 m². The container is included in the price and remains the property of the purchaser, adding another 14 m²thatcan be used for storage. Flatts is ideal when rapid deployment is required and takes only two hours per building to erect. Like ABT, it is ideally suited to remote sites in Africa. It has been approved by the US Military and, through Group Five, Everite is the licensee for sub-Saharan Africa. The self-contained system can be stored indefinitely in the open. The buildings can also be folded and reloaded within four hours with no damage or loss of small parts as per normal flat pack systems. The combined effort of ABT and Everite Fibre Cement building products demonstrates the seamless integration of Everite’s Nutecflat sheets as a wall cladding used in conjunction with the ABT light weight steel frame building system by Group Five ABT.