How better research is helping roads and bridges last longer

30 May 2019 | Web Article Number: ME201914596

Construction, Civil & Structural Engineering
How better research is helping roads and bridges last longer

CONSTRUCTION materials company AfriSam is leveraging the power of applied research to make roads, bridges and other concrete structures more resistant to corrosive environments.

That’s according to Nithia Pillay, AfriSam’s National Product Technical Manager for Construction Materials, who said that among its long-term research is a project assessing the effects of highly corrosive environments on concretes, and how different proportions and types of raw materials can mitigate these impacts.

“The ongoing, proactive monitoring that we conduct as part of our quality control function also forms an important part of the company’s product development cycle. The data we generate gives us the scientific and experiential basis to constantly develop new innovations,” Pillay said.

Results from these tests feed into dedicated computer software, allowing architects and contractors to specify the appropriate grade of concrete to suit their project’s environmental conditions. In this way, the company’s investment in expertise and systems to sustain quality products also positions it well to conduct and coordinate valuable research.

“In collaboration with customers, universities and other bodies, we explore the properties of cements, supplementary cementitious materials, aggregates and concrete. By actively mapping quarry rock type and quality, blasted material is expertly paired with appropriate applications.”

For instance, roadstone is supplied to the specific grading, shape and wearing properties required for asphalt and road surfacing applications.

“The material we supply for layer works, such as the base and sub-base materials, must provide the interlocking support structure in road design, with the different categories of graded material catering for varying load designs,” said Pillay.

Afrisam’s testing is conducted in its Centre of Product Excellence laboratory, which makes itself commercially available as a service to the construction industry.

“The Durability Index Tests that are being designed and applied to concrete and civil infrastructure are based on key parameters that allow the structure’s design life to be predicted and prolonged,” Pillay said, adding that the plant laboratories at AfriSam’s cement, aggregate and readymix operations around the country are all ISO 9001-certified.

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