The aspect of labour in hybrid and in-situ concrete construction in South Africa

Schreuder, Jan-Hendrik Michiel (2015-12)

Thesis (MEng)--Stellenbosch University, 2015.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Hybrid concrete construction (HCC) is a construction technique that makes use of both in-situ and pre-fabricated concrete products by making optimum use of the advantages of both these methods in the same project. Although the advantages of this construction method is well recognised throughout the world, and a feasibility study has illustrated that HCC is a suitable construction method in South Africa, it remains under-utilised in this country. Labour has been identified as one of the aspects of the decision-making process between in-situ and HCC. The construction industry is ranked as the employer with the 5thhighest number of employees in South Africa, which is currently experiencing a 25.4% unemployment rate. This highlights the importance of the construction industry as an employer in South Africa. Labour is considered as one of the areas of highest concern in the South African construction industry. This concern is intensified when the shortage of skilled labour in the industry is taken into account. In the light of these realities, the objective of this research study was to investigate the utilization of labour in both the in-situ and HCC environments, and the effect of the use of HCC on labour and its socio-economic aspects. The first step of this process necessitated the identification of the most important labour-related concerns in the South African construction industry. A previous investigation into this industry identified low productivity of labourers and the use of unskilled labour as the most significant areas of concern, whilst another study identified socio-economic issues as important factors to consider when deciding between in-situ and HCC. These socio-economic issues were quantified through literature to be job creation, job security, skills development and a suitable working environment. Interviews and surveys with experienced managers in different divisions of the South African civil construction industry were used to investigate the effect of the use of HCC on the identified labour-related factors. A case study was used to support the qualitative opinions of the interviewees. Lastly, a risk analysis was conducted, which identified the importance of labour-related risks in both considered environments. The research study showed that the labour force is applied to greater effect when using HCC than when using the in-situ construction method. The use of HCC also serves as partial mitigation of the shortage of skilled labour in South Africa, due to its ability to effectively utilize low-skilled labour. The construction environment of HCC also proves to be more labour-friendly, and management of labourers are easier and more effective in this environment. However, in-situ construction creates more employment opportunities, whilst HCC has a quicker turnover, thus shortening the employment period. Therefore it should be considered that labourers in the HCC environment are released earlier and could sooner be employed for new projects, countering the effect of less employment opportunities in this environment.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Hibriede betonkonstruksie (HBK) is ‟n tegniek waarby beide voorafvervaardigde beton-elemente en in-situ beton in dieselfde projek gebruik word ten einde voordeel uit beide metodes te trek. Alhoewel die voordele van dié konstruksietegniek welbekend is in talle lande van die wêreld en ‟n uitvoerbaarheidsanalise getoon het dat HBK ‟n voordelige konstruksiemetode vir Suid-Afrika is, word dit tans onderbenut in die plaaslike sektor. Arbeid is geïdentifiseer as een van die faktore in die besluitnemingsproses tussen in-situ en HBK. Die konstruksiebedryf word beskou as die bedryf met die 5de hoogste indiensnemingsyfer in Suid-Afrika, wat tans „n 25.4% werkloosheidsyfer ervaar. Dit beklemtoon die belangrikheid van die konstruksiebedryf as 'n werkgewer in Suid-Afrika. Arbeid word ook beskou as grootste probleem-area in die Suid-Afrikaanse konstruksiebedryf. Hierdie probleme word versterk deur die huidige tekort aan geskoolde arbeid in die konstruksiebedryf. In die lig van hierdie gegewens was die doel van hierdie navorsingstudie om die gebruik van arbeid in beide omgewings te bestudeer, asook die uitwerking van beide konstruksiemetodes op die arbeiders en die sosio-ekonomiese aspekte aangaande arbeid. Die eerste stap van hierdie proses was die identifisering van die belangrikste arbeidsverwante probleme in die Suid-Afrikaanse konstruksiebedryf. In 'n vorige studie aangaande die Suid-Afrikaanse konstruksiebedryf, is lae arbeidsproduktiwiteit en die gebruik van ongeskoolde arbeid geïdentifiseer as die probleem-areas in hierdie bedryf. 'n Ander studie aangaande die gebruik van HBK in Suid-Afrika het sosio-ekonomiese kwessies as 'n belangrike faktor beskou om te oorweeg in die keuse tussen in-situ en HBK. Hierdie sosio-ekonomiese kwessies is gekwantifiseer deur middel van „n literatuurstudie oor: werkskepping, werksekerheid, die ontwikkeling van arbeidsvaardighede en die mees geskikte werksomgewing vir arbeiders. Onderhoude en opnames met ervare bestuurders van verskillende afdelings in die Suid-Afrikaanse siviele konstruksiebedryf is gebruik om die effek wat die gebruik van HBK op die geïdentifiseerde arbeidsverwante faktore het, te ondersoek en te bepaal. „n Gevallestudie is gebruik om hierdie kwalitatiewe menings kwantitatief te ondersteun. „n Risiko-analise is ook uitgevoer om die invloed van arbeiders op die produktiwiteit van beide die in-situ konstruksie-omgewing en die voorafvervaardigde omgewing te bepaal. Hierdie navorsingstudie het getoon dat die arbeidsmag meer effektief gebruik word in HBK as in die in-situ konstruksiemetode. Hierdie metode (HBK) is ook in staat is om laag-geskoolde arbeiders effektief aan te wend. Die konstruksie-omgewing met betrekking tot HBK is ook meer arbeidsvriendelik, en die bestuur van arbeiders in hierdie omgewing is makliker en meer effektief. Alhoewel, wanneer werkskepping oorweeg word, word in-situ konstruksie egter as die doeltreffender metode beskou. Dit moet egter in ag geneem word dat HBK projekte „n korter konstruksieperiode het as in-situ konstruksie, dus het arbeiders in die HBK omgewing gouer die geleentheid om met „n nuwe projek te begin.

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