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AECI Much pic 2

AECI MUCH ASPHALT WINS IN HEALTH AND SAFETY

AECI Much Asphalt has taken home first and third places in the Manufacturers category of the National Master Builders South Africa (MBSA) 2021 Health and Safety Competition. The Gqeberha (formerly Port Elizabeth) branch received the national trophy for the third time in 2021, with previous top spot successes in 2015 and 2017. This plant has won the Eastern Cape Regional MBSA Health and Safety Competition no fewer than 18 times since it first entered in 1994 and has been placed in the top three since inception of the national competition in 2013. AECI Much Asphalt’s Regional SHEQ Officer Roger Geswint says site inspection and accurate record keeping came out as major wins in the 2021 audit. He drives health and safety excellence at AECI Much Asphalt Gqeberha with the assistance of Maintenance Supervisor Louis Blume and Lab Supervisor Thabo Motaung. “We work as a team, we have an excellent team spirit, we take ownership, and we have a Zero Harm mindset,” says Geswint. KwaZulu-Natal AECI Much Asphalt’s Coedmore branch took first place in the KwaZulu-Natal Regional Competition and third place in the National MBSA Competition. Much like its Eastern Cape counterpart, the Coedmore branch has a proud record of consistently winning the Regional Master Builders South Africa Competition every year since 2013. “We work in a dangerous environment and the safety of our people will always be our top priority,” says Shivanie Rambaran, AECI Much Asphalt SHEQ Officer on this site. She asserts that continuous improvement is the secret of the Coedmore plant’s success. “Compliance is the endgame for most, but the difference between ordinary and extraordinary is the little extra. In keeping with our Zero Harm culture the aim is to exceed compliance, and this requires continuous improvement.” Working with her to ensure continuous compliance are Plant Supervisors Patrick Blanka Mambane in Maintenance, Roland Gopichand in Production, and Simphiwe Hokomane in Quality Assurance and Laboratory, as well as Branch Manager Trevor Thompson. “Over the years the KZN team has rallied together to maintain a positive attitude, work diligently, remain focused and, most importantly, learn from past mistakes,” says Rambaran. These key ingredients have allowed us not only to identify pressing issues, but to also find and correct the root causes.”

AECI Much pic 2

Valuable Systems Upgrade for AECI Much Asphalt

A major operating system software upgrade is enabling AECI Much Asphalt to identify and standardize best practice across its manufacturing facilities in South Africa. The upgrade has included modernizing its database to enable the generation of live plant reports that can be used to confirm the integrity of the asphalt and evaluate consistency across 15 manufacturing plants. Data from the plants, as well as weighbridges and laboratories, can be produced and interpreted on the same platform to link all aspects of the production process from design through to distribution for each plant. “Our new system offers the unique ability to provide access to a significant range of live data, enabling our managers to make immediate, informed decisions,” says Colin Brooks, Group Plant Technical Manager. Analysis of the reports enables AECI Much Asphalt to compare international benchmarks with its own internal targets. Data provided includes the date and time of the batch, the recipe used, and measurements such as rate of production, bitumen tank temperature logging, bitumen and fuel level readings, as well as cold feed outputs. ‘’From this important information, we are able to create a standard template which can compare efficiency and quality in terms of start-ups, number of mixes, length of runs and other data,” says Brooks. “The benefit to our customers will be our ability to deliver a better-quality product on spec and on time. As we improve and standardize the best practices across all plants, we will also see an improvement in our energy usage, which will help to reduce our carbon footprint.” AECI Much Asphalt uses an Adroit operating software, which was developed in collaboration with Technopark Automation & Control (TAC) about 20 years ago. An upgrade to the Adroit software was required due to the shift to Windows 10. It was decided to dovetail this process with conversion of the database from Microsoft Access to SQL to standardize data capturing across all manufacturing processes from start to finish. Using the Adroit interface, TAC carried out all the back-end programming and changes. The upgrade took place over a two-year period and was completed at the end of 2019. “While we previously captured our data, the challenge was that all the pickup points were allocated to different places in the database and so we would have to sieve through the data to make comparisons between plants,” says Brooks. “We are planning to upgrade further to enable live tracking of stock usage, which will assist in achieving quick and efficient stock management.” Training has been provided to staff on generation and interpretation of the reports. While some aspects of the process still need to be operated manually at this stage, Brooks says AECI Much Asphalt expects the system to be fully automated by the end of 2021. “The Benoni plant is the only one that is not yet integrated as it uses a different operating system. We can generate reports, but not yet live data in real time,” Brooks explains. “We are liaising with the manufacturer of the Benoni plant and are confident that a solution will be available soon.” Colin Brooks, Group Plant Technical Manager, pictured at the AECI Much Asphalt Eerste River plant in Cape Town.

Worthy winners – Melissa-Ann Jew and Eddie Jansen van Vuuren.

AECI Much Asphalt and AECI SprayPave share Coveted HSE Award

The Southern African Bitumen Association (SABITA) has named Eddie Jansen van Vuuren of AECI SprayPave and Melissa-Ann Jew of AECI Much Asphalt as joint recipients of its 2020 CEO Merit Award for Notable HSE Achievement. The winners were announced on 15 April 2021. Melissa-Ann Jew is SHEQ Manager at AECI Much Asphalt and Eddie Jansen van Vuuren is Director of AECI SprayPave, a subsidiary of AECI Much Asphalt. The SABITA HSE Award recognises notable initiatives by member companies or individual employees who have significantly contributed to the enhancement of HSE management within their own organisations or the bituminous industry in general. The first recipients of the annual CEO Merit Awards were announced in 2012. Nominations are received from member companies and the nominees must provide details on issues such as economic benefit of HSE performance enhancement, innovation to promote behaviour change, and applicability of achievements to the wider industry. “This time around there were joint recipients and we are very proud that both come from the AECI Much Asphalt group,” says AECI Much Asphalt Managing Director Bennie Greyling. Passion for the environment The nomination for Melissa-Ann Jew read as follows: “When Much Asphalt joined the AECI Group in 2018, the TRIR was over 3 against an AECI internal aim of <0,5. Melissa was appointed as SHEQ Manager for the AECI Much Asphalt group during the latter part of 2019. With excellent people skills, capable planning and passion she drove the TRIR down to the current 0,38. This puts AECI Much Asphalt amongst the top performers in the AECI group and indeed against global best practice. In addition, through passion for the environment and sheer drive she ensures that all the AECI Much Asphalt and SprayPave sites operate within the law and beyond in this respect. Her sincere love for people, as well as their safety and the environment they live and work in, plays a big role in her success. Her approach to everything is totally customer focused and continually promotes the concept that the SHEQ team serves others. Satisfaction surveys are used to evaluate processes and the input and criticism are used to achieve better performance. In her acceptance speech, Melissa-Ann mentioned that she was in fact receiving credit for a team effort and that no strides would have been achieved without the support of every employee. She went on to say: “I want to thank my mentor and leader, Bennie Greyling, for his and the senior management’s unwavering support in all aspects SHEQ. It is a dream come true to work with such amazing people and such an amazing team.” The right way to dispose of waste Eddie Jansen van Vuuren was nominated for his work on a waste bitumen recovery project which ensures that bituminous waste and steel drums do not end up on landfill sites. The project facilitates separation of the waste into components that can be re-used, followed by safe disposal of those that cannot be reused. Eddie assembled a team to design and build a system consisting of a drum decanter and heating procedure to recover bitumen from drums collected from customers and the three AECI SprayPave branches. This ensures that bitumen waste and steel drums do not unnecessarily end up on landfill sites and are safely disposed of in accordance with waste management regulations. This process comes at a substantial cost to the business. The initiative was a direct result of the AECI SprayPave Responsible Care Policy (cradle to grave commitment) and is a good example of sound Product Stewardship, which will hopefully “rub off” on other industry leaders. Waste management in the “blacktop” industry has always been a thorny issue and this project paves the way for other initiatives demonstrating that the industry really cares about the environment. Worthy winners – Melissa-Ann Jew and Eddie Jansen van Vuuren.

ABETTERWORLD

AECI Much Asphalt to pioneer low carbon asphalt production

A ground-breaking partnership between Origin Materials, the world’s leading carbon negative materials company, and AECI Much Asphalt, southern Africa’s largest commercial asphalt manufacturer, is set to take world asphalt production by storm. Origin Materials, based in West Sacramento, USA, produces low and negative carbon materials with the mission to enable the world’s transition to sustainable materials. This is exactly what the partnership aims to achieve in the asphalt sector. Origin Materials and AECI Much Asphalt have launched a programme to create a novel low-carbon bitumen. At the heart of the programme lies Origin Materials’ patented technology platform, which turns inexpensive, sustainable wood residues into cost-advantaged, carbon-negative materials that reduce the need for fossil resources. AECI Much Asphalt is an AECI Group company and AECI is a strategic investor in Origin Materials. The partnership with Origin Materials reflects the commitment of AECI Much Asphalt and its parent company to delivering innovative environmental solutions. “AECI Much Asphalt and Origin are both committed to innovative, sustainable solutions for bringing the globe to net zero as quickly as possible,” says Origin Materials co-CEO Rich Riley. “With AECI Much Asphalt’s leadership position in asphalt and extensive reach as a supplier to the African continent, we expect that this partnership can result in a significant reduction in carbon emissions and will play a key role in Origin’s mission to enable the world’s transition to sustainable materials.” “AECI has formalised its strategy to 2025, which has sustainability at its core,” adds Dean Mulqueeny, AECI Group Executive and Chairman of AECI Much Asphalt. “Roll-out of the strategy includes our commitments and targets in terms of carbon intensity reductions. The partnership with Origin is totally aligned with this and exemplifies our brand promise of enabling ‘a better world’ through our products and services.” For AECI Much Asphalt, the partnership with Origin Materials is a significant step in reducing its own carbon footprint and that of its customers. Herman Marais, Plant and Technical Director at AECI Much Asphalt, says this programme is very significant due to the vital role of bitumen as the binder in asphalt production and the direct relation of the bitumen to the long-term performance of asphalt. Bitumen is the glue that holds the whole asphalt mix together and aids in compaction during the paving process. Once the asphalt has cooled, the bitumen provides the necessary stiffness and durability to the asphalt layer to last for its design life. “Although we currently only measure the carbon footprint of our processes during the manufacture of our asphalt products, the carbon footprint of the bitumen itself is high. Turning Origin Materials’ carbon neutral feedstock into an alternative asphalt binder therefore makes huge environmental sense,” says Marais. The collaboration with Origin Materials is expected to create considerable value in the developing African market, where AECI Much Asphalt is active, and could revolutionise global bitumen production. AECI Much Asphalt already includes up to 40% reclaimed asphalt in its products in a drive towards sustainable production which has resulted in more than a million tonnes of aggregate not being mined and avoided the refining of some 53 500 tonnes of bitumen since 2012. The Origin Materials platform is expected to provide stable pricing largely de-coupled from the petroleum supply chain, which is more volatile than supply chains based on sustainable wood residues. “With the closing of the Engen refinery and recurrent production challenges experienced by the other local refineries, South Africa has become a net importer of bitumen over the past year,” says Marais. “There is no indication that this balance will be redressed in the foreseeable future and the potential of an alternative source of asphalt binder from Origin Materials is an opportunity not only for environmental benefit, but also to ensure sustainability in the South African bitumen and asphalt market. “There is very exciting development work ahead and we eagerly await the commissioning of Origin Materials’ first production facility at the end of 2022 and its second not long thereafter to start seeing the true benefits of this joint venture.”

AECI Spraypave bitumen

SprayPave has answers to high grade bitumen shortage

AECI SprayPave is now able to offer the asphalt industry scarce 10/20 penetration grade bitumen using unique technology that enables the production of specialist bitumen products. AECI SprayPave manufactures bituminous binders, emulsions, primes and pre-coats for road construction. In response to an ongoing bitumen shortage in South Africa, the company acquired a multistage bitumen converter from Technix Industries in New Zealand in 2015, only the second to be commissioned worldwide. The technology enables AECI SprayPave to achieve predictable and repeatable conversion of penetration grade bitumen available from South African refineries to grades that are both lower in penetration and higher in softening point than the feedstock bitumen. “We are very excited to be able to add 10/20 bitumen, which is currently in short supply, to our offering,” says AECI SprayPave director Eddie Jansen van Vuuren. “The 10/20 bitumen product conforms to the penetration grade bitumen specification.” 10/20 bitumen is commonly used in the production of high modulus asphalt (EME), which is well suited to high trafficked roads likely to suffer significant fatigue and stress. Currently this grade of bitumen is only supplied by one South African refinery. Other local refineries have not been able to produce 10/20 bitumen due to higher demand for other “normal” grades and difficulty in meeting the required specifications. Unforeseen breakdowns and scheduled shutdowns at refineries add to the problem, Jonathan Bell, AECI SprayPave’s Cape Town technical manager, points out. The multistage bitumen converter uses pressure, heat and air to precisely convert bituminous refinery feedstocks into high grade bitumen. The softness, penetration index and physical properties of the bitumen can be changed to meet exact design specifications. The controlled processes in a bitumen converter make it possible to rearrange chemical structures to create asphaltenes. The gentle process and highly efficient addition of air and therefore oxygen (air rectification), preserve the highly polar aromatic/resin fraction and minimise coke build-up. In addition to the 10/20 product, the current bitumen line-up offered by AECI SprayPave includes 70/100, 50/70 and 35/50. “The converter has enabled us to deliver SABS certified 50/70 bitumen to the Western Cape since it became fully operational three years ago, with steady expansion of the product range since,” explains Bell. “The value of this technology to the local asphalt sector was highlighted when only soft grade bitumen was available locally and the converter was able to overcome this shortfall through successful production of 50/70,” he says. “Our technical relationship with the plant manufacturer, Technix Industries, remains strong with a high level of collaboration to deliver value to Southern African customers.” Bell says throughputs of 30 to 60 tons per day can be achieved when converting from conventional 70/100 to 10/20. Herman Marais, technical director at AECI Much Asphalt, AECI SprayPave’s parent company, adds that demand for high modulus asphalt incorporating 10/20 penetration grade bitumen is growing in South Africa. “The technology is proving valuable for high traffic load routes. Demand is anticipated to increase exponentially when the major N3 freeway contracts are awarded, as several of these projects will use high modulus asphalt.” Jonathan Bell, Cape Town technical manager (left), and Eddie Jansen van Vuuren, director at AECI SprayPave, with the multistage bitumen converter that enables the production of 10/20 penetration grade bitumen.

AECI Spraypave - dust suppression

Not leaving you in the dust

Fine dust particles not only affect workspaces and equipment in industries like construction, mining and manufacturing, but they also threaten the health and safety of workers, drivers, pedestrians, and neighbouring communities. Dust particles 10 microns in size, known as respirable dust, are not visible to the naked eye and can cause serious harm by penetrating the lungs. Dust particles of 100 microns which are visible and known as inhalable dust, can also lodge in the respiratory tract. Black lung, shortness of breath and respiratory failure are some of the irreversible health effects of ongoing exposure. Driving or operating equipment in dusty environments is also dangerous due to limited visibility. Dust suppression is achieved through the application of a liquid to prevent inhalable and respirable dust particles from becoming airborne. This generally involves a fine spray application of surface-active ingredients dissolved in water that bond to the airborne particles, weighting them to the ground. New Solution AECI SprayPave, a leading manufacturer, supplier and applicator of bituminous binders, emulsions, primes and pre-coats to the road construction industry, has used its expertise in the bitumen field to formulate a waterproof binder known as Dustasolve-10. The product comprises a bitumen emulsion combined with nanotechnology additives. “Dustasolve-10 is designed to target dust on gravel roads, quarries and mines without the need for complicated layerworks equipment,” says AECI SprayPave director Eddie Jansen van Vuuren, pointing out that simplicity of application is key to the success of this product. “Dustasolve-10 can be applied with a bitumen distributor without the need for a roller. In typical warm South African conditions with base temperatures of 25°C and rising, a road can be opened to traffic as little as one hour after application.” How it works Bitumen emulsion comprises varying volume fractions of bitumen droplets dispersed through an aqueous solution with the aid of an emulsifying surfactant. Bitumen emulsions can be easily applied at room temperature without heating equipment. However, Jansen van Vuuren warns that there are some shortcomings to be aware of when it comes to dust suppression solutions. If the bitumen fraction is too high in the emulsion it forms a layer that can sometimes become tacky, leading to lifting or movement under traffic. Another concern is stability of the treated area in wet climates when bitumen emulsion surface treatments that do not bond with the soil are washed away by rain. AECI SprayPave has addressed these concerns by incorporating bitumen additives with properties that enable the Dustasolve-10 particles to bond with the soil particles even at low bitumen volume fractions. This both reduces the inhalable and respirable dust particles rising from unpaved roads and provides a strong waterproofing effect that mitigates water damage to the road surface. Spray applications can be between 1l/m2 and 3l/m2 depending on the surface conditions. Maintenance of the area may require reduced product application rates while achieving further dust control and improving road strength and protection. Depending on traffic on the surface, a maintenance spray may be required one to two weeks after the initial application. Dustasolve-10 has undergone trials at a mine in Limpopo Province and at three sites of AECI Spraypave’s parent company, AECI Much Asphalt, in Benoni and Eikenhof, Gauteng, and Pietermaritzburg, KwaZulu-Natal. The trials have demonstrated the suitability of the product for dust suppression and helped to determine optimum application rates and respray maintenance requirements in different conditions. Jansen van Vuuren says trials to date have shown the new formulation to be quick penetrating, fast drying, non-tacky, waterproof, easy to apply, and competitive in price. Trial application in progress on access road at a Limpopo mine.

AECI Much Asphalt skills

A culture of training pays off for AECI Much Asphalt

AECI Much Asphalt is Southern Africa’s largest commercial asphalt producer. The sustainability of the South African asphalt industry and of the communities where the firm runs its 14 plants is critical to its growth and success. The firm’s flagship plant and biggest employer is in Benoni. AECI Much recognises unemployment and a scarcity of skills as major threats to the future of its business and has used creative thinking to build a loyal, productive workforce and to ensure that small enterprises using its products have the skills to succeed. Looking for solutions to its diverse employment requirements in environments characterised by massive youth unemployment, AECI Much partnered with Harambee Youth Employment Accelerator, a not-for-profit social enterprise that brings business together with young people seeking work. That was five years ago and has been a win-win for the company, the community and the individual, says Ayesha Isaacs, Group Human Capital Manager at AECI Much Asphalt. “We know how hard it is to find employment, especially if you don’t have any form of work experience,’’ says Isaacs. “We see this as an opportunity to recruit fresh talent, to build raw candidates with potential into our requirements and our culture.” She estimates that some 60 job seekers from matriculants to graduates have entered AECI Much Asphalt via this source over the years. “We employ a candidate on a six-month contract. He or she spends two months at the weighbridge (where asphalt is weighed prior to dispatch), two months in the laboratory (where product testing and development take place), and two months on the asphalt plant,” Isaacs explains. “This way we find where the candidate shows the most potential. Those who are the best fit are offered full time employment, while the remaining candidates complete the fixed-term contract with six months of paid training.” She says this arrangement not only reduces the risk to AECI Much Asphalt, but also gives all candidates a better chance of future employment through six months of intensive practical training to develop skills that will hold them in good stead moving forward. “Much is known for producing good calibre employees.” AECI Much Asphalt has recruited 16 full time employees via this platform, several of them working in its Gauteng Regional Laboratory in Benoni. The firm also offers internships for students required to do in-service training as part of their qualifications as well as internal learnerships for employees. Free technical skills for SMMEs In another initiative that helps to build competence within the roads sector, AECI Much Asphalt offers free workshops to customers such as SMMEs and government departments that use asphalt for small projects. “We launched this initiative 15 years ago to promote sustainable asphalt paving on South Africa’s roads and help emerging contractors grow their businesses,” says managing director Bennie Greyling. “By sharing skills on how to use our products properly we hope to provide employment opportunities in the construction sector and at the same time to broaden our client base.” The Best Practice Workshop on Hand Laid Hot Mix Asphalt provides practical instruction on techniques for the placement of hot mix asphalt by hand on small projects. Each delegate receives a manual on the selection, use and application of AECI Much Asphalt’s products and a certificate. Many hundreds of individuals have received the training across South Africa since the workshops were launched in 2006. “At the end of the day, AECI Much Asphalt and the contractor who is placing our product have a joint responsibility for its quality,” says Greyling. “We need to work together for the best outcomes.” AECI Much Asphalt employees recruited through Harambee Youth Employment Accelerator (from left): Benevolence Sithole and Petunia Mbatha, Lab Technicians at the Gauteng Regional Laboratory in Benoni; Velaphi Thubane, Plant Technician at the Benoni Plant; Gamane Madonsela, Lab Technician at the Benoni Laboratory; and Mmoick Matsie, Senior Lab Technician at the Gauteng Regional Laboratory.

AECI Much Asphalt QA Feb 2021

Q&A with Bennie Greyling – AECI Much Asphalt Managing Director

The roads market is expected to grow in 2021. How is AECI Much Asphalt responding to opportunities? Obviously the last 12 months have been very tough, but we have managed to maintain our capacity in terms of people and production. AECI Much Asphalt has 16 static and four mobile asphalt plants in southern Africa, as well as three binder manufacturing facilities. Do you have solutions for labour-intensive construction? Our hot and cold asphalt products can be used for pothole repair and small-scale surfacing, and we also have modified bitumen products for use in slurry seals, chip seals and crack sealing products. Does AECI Much Asphalt have a strategy for the low-volume roads market? Our range includes products such as “Sand Mix” and Micro Surfacing, designed for low volume roads, residential streets, and walkways. These products can be manufactured using local materials and offer cost effective alternatives to conventional asphalt roads. We also offer various modified bitumen products for use with slurry seals and excellent dust suppression solutions through our subsidiary, AECI Spraypave. How can AECI Much Asphalt assist in terms of SMME contractor development? Our free workshops for SMMEs in the use of hot mix asphalt from pothole repair to machine application are well known and respected in the industry. This is important to ensure the sustainability of asphalt pavements in South Africa and attracts large numbers of delegates. We also provide training in the general administration of a business and basic financial administration. As part of our adjusted procurement policy, we settle debt with SMMEs earlier than normal business practice to assist them in improving cash flow and strengthening working capital. Our BBBEE Level 1 status attests to our commitment to supporting small businesses and transformation within the industry. Just in time delivery is the key. What sets AECI Much Asphalt apart from the competition? The availability of key materials is paramount in our business and our focus on material sourcing sets us apart. Due to unreliable supply of some key resources, we have invested in our own storage capacity. While this practice goes against the JIT principle, it ensures that our customers’ contracts are serviced without interruption. In line with this strategy AECI Spraypave operates the only multistage bitumen converter on the African continent capable of supplying multiple grades of bitumen in smaller quantities then financially viable for oil refineries. Please expand on current supply projects Our Cape Town production facilities in Eerste River and Contermanskloof are supplying a rubber modified asphalt to the R44 between Stellenbosch and Somerset West. In KZN current projects include the P338 between Camperdown and Thornville, supplied from our Pietermaritzburg plant, as well as the Bravo Taxiway project at King Shaka International Airport and various BRT Work packages on the Inanda Arterial supplied from Coedmore. Projects supplied from our Inland Region plants include rehabilitation of the N4 near Emalahleni, rehabilitation and upgrade of the N3 in Villiers, and a three-year supply of hot and cold asphalt to the Johannesburg Roads Agency. What is AECI Much Asphalt’s policy on quality assurance? We pride ourselves on our focus on quality assurance, as this is a differentiator in the current competitive asphalt and bitumen market. AECI Much Asphalt’s Central Laboratory (Cenlab) in Cape Town holds ISO 17025:2017 accreditation and our Gauteng regional laboratory is expected to follow suit later this year. We intend to include the bitumen performance grade tests as well as some of the asphalt performance tests in our already extended scope of accredited tests. All AECI Much Asphalt and AECI Spraypave plants have their own dedicated process control laboratories and the mobile plants arrive on site complete with mobile laboratories. These laboratories assure the quality of all products leaving the plants and form part of our commitment to our ISO 9001:2015 quality certification. Hand-laid Hot Asphalt workshop presented by AECI Much Asphalt at its Roodepoort branch in November 2020, including input by AECI Spraypave on primes and emulsions. The programme was repeated over two days to comply with Covid-19 safety requirements.