Afrimat Ready-Mix depends on reliable, networked partners

“When you’re contracted as a concrete supplier on a 500 000m3 project you can comprehend the importance of reliability from each and every partner in your ‘team’.

Afrimat Ready-Mix Division forms part of the larger JSE-listed Afrimat Limited group which is active nationally and moving into neighbouring states, with the view to moving strategically into the Southern African region.

Ricus van Heerden who is responsible for Afrimat Ready-Mix Division’s Western and Northern Cape region, emphasises how crucial logistics, planning, collaboration and trust are in a business such as theirs.

“While we concentrate on our core product, its quality manufacture, we also rely on our outsourced transport teams to uphold our customer promise and thus our reputation.”

“The example of 500 000m3, could be a substantial mall or huge multi-storey building in the heart of a metropolis. On such sites an on-site concrete batch plant is not feasible, so it has to be driven in from one of Afrimat’s fixed batch plants in the region. This is when you may see a row of seven or more FAW 33.330FC mixers with 6m3, or 35.340FC mixers with 8m3, waiting in line to drop their loads, each load with only around 3 hours margin between them to place the concrete in a specific sequence.

“Let me assure you, it is in situations like this that you do not want one of those trucks to suddenly have mechanical problems,” explains Van Heerden.

Van Heerden cites this example to show how critical the collaboration is between the clients normally represented by a chief contractor of the project and Afrimat on the one hand, and between Afrimat and its subcontracted transport suppliers on the other.

We make use of a large variety of transport subcontractors, from big transport company mixer truck fleets, to smaller two to six truck operations, to LODs (lorry owner driver). In this way we put together the most cost-effective team for each individual project we get.

In the case of the smaller sub-contractors and the LODs we partner very closely, from providing surety to finance their vehicles, to providing business skills support.

One of our requirement for all our transport sub-contractors is that they buy FAW mixer trucks because not only does this brand offer the combination of one of the lowest cost of operation and the one of the highest records for uptime, but we have the actual manufacturer, FAW Vehicle Manufacturers SA Ltd.’s full service and maintenance backing.

“The construction industry is extremely price sensitive. This is why the entire logistics chain has to be 100% networked, have to collaborate on best solutions for our client and then with the greatest precision implementing the plans.

“This is one of the many reasons we advocate that our transporters run FAW mixer trucks. FAW SA is prepared to engage with us, and listen to ever-changing demands from our clients and regulatory bodies.

If certain clearances and protective adjustment needed to be made on the mixer trucks, FAW didn’t hesitate to work with us on solutions.”

“A partner like this is a partner we can trust,” says Van Heerden.

Situated in Worcester is one of the Afrimat’s sub-contractors, RUKO Investments Ltd. that runs 13 FAW mixer trucks and one tipper, six 33.330FC 6m3 mixers and seven 35.340FC mixers with 8m3 capacity.

Kobus Smit, one of the partners, says that they enjoy a great relationship with Afrimat, who provides them with the majority of their contract work.

“Wherever our drivers have to collect and dispatch the Afrimat concrete we have a single mantra ‘be ready, do it right’.

“Our drivers love the FAW mixers because they’re easy to drive – quite something when you have up to 15 tons of concrete churning in the drum behind you. As we have our own in- house technicians they too praise the simplicity and speed with which we can service, maintain or repair one of our units.

“Being a mid-sized operation we need our vehicles out and working. Our margins are tight and our customer like Afrimat takes no prisoners when it comes to staying on plan.”

Smit concludes; “what we like best about FAW is that their vehicles are evolving. We see continuous improvement and this assures us that they are customer-centric.

FAW makes the time to understand the construction industry and is prepared to collaborate with everyone involved to find the best transport solutions.”