Demand soaring for CHRYSO S.A.’s Centre of Excellence - concrete technology input


Leading admixture producer, the Chryso Southern Africa Group, has substantially expanded its laboratory testing facilities with the opening of its new Centre of Excellence at the Group’s head office in Jet Park, Johannesburg. The Centre of Excellence features ultra-modern equipment and temperature control systems to offer cement, concrete, and construction systems technology as an added-value service to customers.

Ronette Smit, Chryso Southern Africa’s Laboratory Development Manager, says the Centre of Excellence’s testing and advisory service to customers is the most comprehensive of its kind available in the South African admixtures industry. “The Centre can provide tailor-made solutions to match specific applications and customer requirements and recommend the right cement additive, at the right dosage, to boost concrete mix performance and contain costs.  This service is provided free of charge to Chryso customers.

“The Centre of Excellence also plays a key role in the Chryso Group’s new product formulations. Most are based on customer needs but some are the result of new technology developed either at the Chryso Group’s head office in France or in-house in South Africa. Local new developments are handled by Chryso SA’s R&D manager, Mpume Mlalazi,” Ronette states. “The Group has established special precast and readymix forums, comprising both sales and technical staff, that regularly report on customer needs and new market conditions. The Centre of Excellence is then called on to provide specific assistance when necessary and possible.”

She says the Centre of Excellence also tests and - when required – modifies new products developed by the Chryso Group’s French headquarters. “This is to ensure that Chryso’s French-formulated admixtures would perform equally satisfactorily in a concrete mix with South African aggregates. Local sand, for one, is vastly different to sand aggregate used in Europe.”

The current emphasis at the Centre of Excellence is on wet concrete products but the service will soon be extended to include testing and recommendations on dry precast products such as concrete roof tiles, as well as brick and block making. A special block press will be installed to handle this new service.

Sthembile Hlubi, Chryso Southern Africa’s Technical Manager – Cement, says the Centre of Excellence at Jet Park currently accommodates the operations of five specific laboratories: Cement; Concrete; separate Research & Development units for both Chryso and its subsidiary, a.b.e. Construction Chemicals’ products; and a Quality Control lab.

“The Cement laboratory section of the Centre of Excellence is able to evaluate cement in terms of ISO global standards. We can even produce cement in sample form in-house, and devote much time and attention to the evaluation of Chryso SA’s range of grinding aids to ensure that our products match customers’ requirements. Grinding aids are added to the mill during cement grinding and help reduce the energy required to grind the clinker to a given fineness. At a time of rising energy costs, cement producers demand optimum performance from grinding aids,” Sthembile says.

The Cement laboratory’s range of services will soon be augmented by the importation of a cement ball mill. Ball mills grind crushed materials and are widely used in production lines for cement powder. Chryso SA hopes to have the new mill fully operational by the beginning of next year.

Warren Delaney, a.b.e. Construction Chemicals Chief Chemist, previously based at the a.b.e. lab in Boksburg, now manages the a.b.e. R&D lab at the Centre of Excellence. “There are many benefits in working under one roof at the Centre. The Cement lab, for example, supplies us with detailed information on changes in cement performance. This assists a.b.e. in making batch adjustments or modifying products when required to incorporate any possible benefit from such changes in cement. The a.b.e. R&D lab at the Centre of Excellence deals specifically with a.b.e.’s and Chryso Mining’s cementitious powder products,” Warren explained.


The Chryso Southern Africa Group’s Centre of Excellence management team pictured at a recent meeting. From left (seated): Warren Delaney (Manager, a.b.e. Laboratory); Mpume Mlalazi (Chryso SA R&D Manager) and Sthembile Hlubi (Chryso SA Technical Manager - Cement). Standing at the back is Ronette Smit (Chryso SA Laboratory Development Manager).

Chryso SA’s Centre of Excellence has recently added testing of micro-concrete, bleed water, absorption, methylene blue, and maturity to its range of services. 

The volume of demand for services from Chryso SA’s new Centre of Excellence has, since it opened about six months ago, soared continuously and staff numbers have quadrupled since then. “The market clearly values the Centre’s complementary role to specialist testing laboratories. We face a very busy 2018,” Ronette Smit predicted.