Driving Chryso customised solutions into Africa
After supplying product into Africa for more than 15 years, Chryso Southern Africa has amassed an extensive reference base of projects. This success can be attributed to a number of factors, foremost of which is the superior level of the relationships that the company has built with contractors from across Africa.
“This is a result of the high level of technical expertise and support that Chryso Southern Africa is able to bring to each project. Repeat business is commonplace for the company as we do not simply supply product into the region and then remain impassive. We believe that active participation and on-going interfacing, with both our new and repeat customers, has enabled us to establish such a strong footprint in Africa,” Armand van Vuuren, commercial manager exports at Chryso Southern Africa says.
The first step in gaining the trust of stakeholders, says van Vuuren, is to acknowledge that each contract is different. “Every project has its own dynamics and supplying admixtures is certainly not a case of one product fits all applications. We have developed the ability to assess each project on its own merit and then recommend a fit for application solution that takes into account all aspects such as climatic conditions, raw materials (including aggregates and cement), the time allocated for the project schedule and any other relevant factors that may affect its timeous completion.”
As part of an international organisation with a major global footprint, Chryso Southern Africa has access to extensive research and development facilities and a team of highly experienced and knowledgeable engineers, who are available to assist with any technical queries.
Van Vuuren points out that being able to understand how its customers operate in the different African countries is extremely important and allows Chryso Southern Africa to customise a service supply chain for each project site. This ensures continuity of product supply, especially for long term contracts. Added to this, an intimate knowledge of local conditions allows the company to select the most appropriate admixture for the given aggregates and cement mix in each country or region. This is complemented by technical support from the export team in collaboration with people who speak the local languages.
With three Chryso Southern Africa manufacturing facilities operating in Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban, all products are readily available and can be shipped to customers all over Africa using the most appropriate shipping method.
“If for any reason one of the three plants is not able to supply product, we are guaranteed that the other two will be able to assist. In this way we are able to meet the demand for product in both South Africa and up into the continent,” van Vuuren explains.
In general, product is shipped from Cape Town to West Africa, from Durban to East Africa and by road freight from Johannesburg to the SADC region. “Reliability of supply is critical in Africa and customers have come to rely on the fact that Chryso Southern Africa is able to manage the logistical flow of its products to sites all over Africa, including those in the remotest areas. The logistics chain is one of the most critical aspects of our success and our ability to adjust and fine tune this for each country is something that differentiates our service delivery,” van Vuuren says.
On-going training for the South African office-based support team ensures that they have a thorough understanding of the logistics involved. The team is dedicated to this function to ensure a seamless transition from order of product to client delivery.
In addition to first class manufacturing facilities, Chryso Southern Africa also has access to its in-house laboratory in Johannesburg where specialised mix designs are tested to determine the most appropriate solution for each project. This is supported by alliances with a number of concrete laboratories in various African countries.
Building an African presence
Chryso Southern Africa has recently been very active in Northern Mozambique where solutions were provided for the precast facilities servicing the Ncala railway and harbour projects with precast manufacturing facilities operating in both Northern Mozambique and Malawi. Infraset in Tete and Moto-Engil in Malawi were responsible for the supply of precast railway sleepers to this project and Chryso Southern Africa supplied products from its Premia range of superplasticisers to all the precast yards contracted to supply sleepers to the rail project. “Superplasticisers were selected as these would ensure high early strength and maximum water reduction in the production of the railway sleepers,” says van Vuuren.
He adds that the supply extended beyond the precast manufacturers in the region, with a call for product to be supplied to the contractors responsible for the in-situ civil structures such as the bridges, storm water culverts and drainage. Much of the product used by these precast manufacturers and contractors was either transported directly by road or via sea to the Ncala harbour. Chryso products were also used in the construction of the harbour facilities.
“In another example of the responsiveness that Chryso Southern Africa is able to provide in terms of customer needs, specialised demoulding oil was imported from France for one of the precast manufacturers. While we are able to supply releasing agents from our South African operation, this particular contractor had previously used this product in Europe for its steam curing applications and Chryso, as part of a large global organisation, was able to secure the product the customer had requested,” says van Vuuren.
In addition to Northern Mozambique, the company has representation through distributors Concrete Additives in Namibia and Material Testing Services in Botswana. A full range of products is being supplied for a number of projects in these countries including precast and in-situ construction. Van Vuuren says that these distributors have an in-depth understanding of the markets in each country and maintain close relationships with their customers.
He adds that shopping centre development in Central Africa is a growing market sector with a major drive from South African developers. Chryso Southern Africa is involved with the majority of these projects as it has the ability to provide product ex stock and service the cross-border sites with a full range of admixtures.
Van Vuuren says that Chryso Southern Africa has recently entered into agreements with companies in Angola, Zambia and Ghana with the express intention of providing the same levels of service and support to its customer bases in those countries. “This move is in line with the company’s intention to further extend its representation in Africa. Export sales have grown significantly in the last few years and it is critical that we remain close to our customer bases so we can best service their needs,” he concludes.