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Contractor (August 2016) Precast Concrete - A Strong Future

01 Sep 2016
Rob Gaimster
Cement & Concrete Association of New Zealand (CCANZ)

With appropriate design, the use of correct materials and manufacturing processes, all overseen by skilled personnel, precast concrete offers value add to the strength and durability synonymous with concrete. Manufactured in a dedicated off-site facility, precast concrete allows for tight quality control measures, while its portability is ideal for transport and rapid erection on-site.

PRECAST NZ

Formed in June 1999, Precast New Zealand Inc. (Precast NZ) is the association that represents the interests of manufacturers in this increasingly important sector of the concrete industry. Precast NZ acts on behalf of around 20 precast companies operating some 30 precast concrete facilities that account for over 80% of the factory produced precast concrete.

Along with its Members, Precast NZ is supported by a growing number of Associate Members who supply to or service the precast concrete sector.

Amongst a range of recent undertakings Precast NZ has developed a Plant Certification Program, as well as publishing a good practice guide for the handling, transportation and erection of precast concrete.

PLANT CERTIFICATION

The Precast NZ Plant Certification Program provides specifiers, contractors and their clients with confidence that products purchased from a Certified Plant are backed by an established operator with appropriate facilities, quality assurance programs and experienced staff.

Precast NZ Executive Director Rod Fulford points out that regardless of application - architectural, structural, cladding, civil or other - purchasing from a Precast NZ Certified Plant ensures that the product has been manufactured at a facility with quality systems audited by an independent body.

Precast NZ Certified Plants have invested heavily in modern equipment, oversight procedures, and staff training with the intention of delivering quality.

While cheaper alternatives may be available, cost should never be the only consideration. Recent history has demonstrated that when contractors accept the lowest price, issues with delivery and performance can cause significant disruption and additional cost.

A comparison can be made between the Precast NZ Plant Certification Program and the New Zealand Ready Mixed Concrete Association’s Plant Audit Scheme. An experienced builder is unlikely to purchase ready mixed concrete from an uncertified plant.

Rod believes that a similar approach should be adopted when purchasing precast concrete products, and suggests specifying that all precast concrete be sourced from a Precast NZ Certified Plant.

INDUSTRY GUIDE

One mechanism Precast NZ uses to best serve the interests of its Members and promote the uptake of precast concrete construction is the development of good practice guidance documents.

Industry Guide - Handling, Transportation and Erection of Precast Concrete aims to give practical assistance in relation to precast products, covering the steps from manufacture through to final placement.

The Guide primarily considers precast concrete as used in buildings, but it may be referred to for handling, transportation and erection of all precast concrete elements where appropriate. 

It does not take priority over the Building Code, New Zealand Standards, or approved Codes of Practice.

The Building Code and various design standards cover requirements for structures in service. This Guide is to assist with the processes prior to incorporation of precast concrete elements into the structure.

It covers matters from manufacture through handling, transportation and erection. The available range of precast concrete products is large, and is used in a myriad of ways. This Guide does not cover all circumstances.

All procedures described in the Guide should be performed under the control of a competent person with appropriate training. 

Article appeared in Contractor magazine.