Potain Over Village Walk

The five cranes strategically positioned between the high rise buildings at the Village Walk give an indication of the sheer extent of another important building project under way in Sandton.


By mid-July, the building contractors had already tackled approximately 10% of the works, which comprises a new commercial and retail development in Gauteng’s business hub.

Prominent South African property developer, Eris Property Group, has contracted a joint venture between Trencon Construction and Aveng Grinaker-LTA Building to construct the two new office towers that make up this development.

Toni Flavio, operations director of Trencon Construction, says this is an extremely strategic project for the building contractor, and the largest project the company has undertaken to date.

Flavio is confident that this will be yet another successful project completed by the JV, as both companies have experience working in tandem. The two contractors have a solid portfolio of successfully completed high-rise projects, and have worked together in Sandton before.

“I believe one of the strengths of this partnership is that both companies have a very similar business culture. And this is one of the reasons why we decided to tender for the works in a JV again,” Flavio says.

One of the complexities on this project is the immense work involved in building the two large office towers in one of the busiest areas of Sandton. Together, both structures have a large footprint of 16, 000m² in an impressive excavation that challenged the geotechnical contractors ahead of the arrival of the construction JV.

The biggest tower has a footprint of 9, 000m² at basement level. Once completed, this building will comprise seven basements, two floors of retail space, 13 floors of offices and a roof structure. It will be occupied by MMI.

This is the second tower to be tackled by the JV. It flanks the existing Nedbank building, and calls for the careful planning and coordination of material handling and lifting activities considering the tight project schedule. The main materials handling tasks are being undertaken using a Potain MC 125 tower crane.

Trencon’s senior site agent, Ernst Bezuidenhout, says during the initial stages of the build, the tower crane had to be erected with a 30m jib due to its very close proximity to the adjacent building.

Potain has designed its tower cranes to accommodate different combinations of five metre and 10m jib sections. Specifically, the Potain MC 125 can be erected in a 60m, 55m, 50m, 40m and 30m jib configuration, a benefit that was a major advantage on this particular project site.

At the end of July, the tower crane was anchored and jacked to about 54m, sufficient height to adequately clear the neighbouring structures.

The crane will be raised five times over the duration of the contract. The next jack will take place in mid-September when the crane will be raised to a height of 68m and the JV reaches the first floor of the structure. The jib will be removed using a mobile crane and extended to 60 m to allow the required reach for materials handling activities across the construction site. By August 2017, the crane will reach its final height of 123m.

From the outset, the Potain MC 125 has been servicing the construction requirements of the main elevator shaft. The tower crane handles the extensive formwork, concrete and reinforcement needed to build the structural elements of the tower.

At the same time, it is tasked with lifting and placing the five ton hydraulic boom pump with its counterweights at the work face. Here, a preformed steel system, using hydraulic shutters, that is able to jack two platforms at a time is being used to build the 13m by 7m elevator shaft, fireman’s lift and fire escape stairway

Limited space means that this project is reliant on just-in-time delivery of critical building materials to the laydown area. These activities are being coordinated by a dedicated logistics manager on the construction site. 

Certainly adding to Flavio’s confidence on this build is the JV’s strong team of subcontractors and supply chain partners, which are able to abide by these strict schedules. Flavio says that the JV’s partners were carefully selected based on their sound performance in the South African construction industry.

“We look for an ability to supply us with a top quality service. This is vital, considering that our business relationships are based on mutual trust and performance,” he says.

This is exactly why Trencon Construction uses SA French for all its tower crane requirements. The company has been doing business with the subsidiary of Torre Industries for the past five years.

Flavio says the Potain brand has always inspired confidence in the company to build complex high-rise projects.

“Building 30 storey structures is a complex activity. You need to be sure that when you embark on such a project you have the correct equipment, as this can make or break a contract,” he says.

In addition to Potain being a revered international tower crane brand, Flavio says the technical after-sales support provided by SA French has played a critical role on all Trencon Construction’s projects. The building contractor also relies on SA French for all its tower crane erection and dismantling services.

Trencon Construction only buys new cranes from SA French, allowing it to enjoy the full warranties that come with the new equipment.

The Potain MC 125 is the latest tower crane in Trencon Construction’s fleet. This is only this tower crane’s second project and it was mobilised from a recently completed project in Kimberley, Northern Cape, to this site this year.

Sandton remains a growth node and important source of work for the South African construction industry. It is easy to identify who dominates this hotspot by just looking to the sky, as there’s bound to be Potain livery associated with the heavy lifting.