Truck loading up at a concrete batch plant
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Truck loading up at a concrete batch plant
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Recent concrete equipment manufacturer acquisitions by Chinese companies has made China a dominant player in the concrete equipment market, one that is facing increasing shortages. (Image credit: kadmy / 123RF Stock Photo)

By Bill Jobs

Global economic trends are to blame for a rise in the cost of construction in the Asia-Pacific region and there is a growing belief that Asia is no longer a cheap place for large construction projects. Europe is still more expensive for large-scale construction, with the Swiss paying more than any other country out of all 53 surveyed in the report produced by Global Asset Consultancy EC Harris. The construction costs in Switzerland were reduced last year because of a weakening Swiss Franc, but the biggest changes have been seen in countries that are recovering from disasters. Where infrastructure is being rebuilt quickly, concrete is often the material of choice and shortages of concrete equipment are one factor driving up costs on big concrete projects.

Booming Second Hand Machinery Market

For many companies the answer lies with second-hand equipment. Suppliers of second hand concrete mixers, pumps and cement silos have noted a marked increase in demand from Europe. Traditionally, second hand concrete machinery had many customers in African countries and in the Asia-Pacific region, but similar building costs across regions have widened the market. The useful life of heavy concrete construction equipment has always been a contentious issue, which makes purchasing from new a difficult decision for many projects. Well-maintained equipment has proved to be more cost effective.

Clever use of Budget

Guaranteed buy back systems are another way builders are cushioning themselves from elastic project times. The decision about what to do with equipment after a large build, is no longer an issue when the original supplier is able to take the equipment back. This is similar to renting, but with more freedom in terms of project maneuverability. There is also no rising cost when the inevitable delays kick in and project completion is put further forward in the calendar. The guaranteed buy backs are popular ways of costing a project without the need for factoring in changes in the anticipated project end date. When the production and distribution of concrete makes up a large part of a project’s cost, using the right equipment at the right time is critical to the success of the construction.

Ability to Use the Best Equipment

Using the correct equipment can shorten construction times considerably and help control costs. Examples of that include distributing concrete from on-site silos and using the right equipment to pump continuous supplies of concrete. Using the correct vehicles for transporting concrete is another area where carefully chosen equipment will reduce construction timescales. Highway construction will often have perfect access for standard transit concrete mixers, but rough terrain mixers are essential for all other builds.

When a ‘build’ needs access roads constructed to a high level before the rest of the project can continue, time and money are affected. The roads that are created to aid construction will often need resurfacing before the project is handed over if there has been a lot of heavy traffic. This may not be the case for small projects, but even with smaller jobs, using the best tools is an important factor.

Africa Leading By Example

Strangely, it is the African nations that are set to expand their construction programs faster than any other continent in the next few years. The Trans-African Highways (TAH) initiative has been actively petitioning the United Nations to help fund the paving of many of the missing links in the road network. The need for concrete construction equipment on the African continent rose considerably when the Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA) approved a US$206 million loan. This was to help the Zimbabwe National Roads Administration (ZINARA) complete the arterial road from the border with Botswana in the west, to the border with Mozambique in the east.

On any size building project, using the right supplier can make all the difference in meeting schedules and budgets For more information on concrete equipment for large or small scale builds, take a look at international suppliers of concrete production and distribution equipment.

Additional Sources:

http://www.constructionweekonline.com/article-18281-chinese-giants-have-mixed-approach-to-brands/

http://www.dbsa.org/News/LatestNews/Pages/DBSAloanZINARA.aspx

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