With appropriate design and the use of correct materials and manufacturing processes, all overseen by skilled personnel, precast concrete offers value-add to the strength and durability synonymous with concrete.
Manufactured in a dedicated off-site facility, precast concrete allows for tight quality control measures, while its portability is ideal for transport and rapid erection on-site.
Formed in June 1999, Precast New Zealand Inc (Precast NZ) is the association that represents the interests of manufacturers in this increasingly important sector of the concrete industry.
Precast NZ acts on behalf of around 20 precast companies operating some 30 precast concrete facilities that account for more than 80% of the factory-produced precast concrete in New Zealand.
Along with its members, Precast NZ is supported by a growing number of associate members who supply to, or service, the precast concrete sector.
Amongst a range of recent undertakings Precast NZ has developed a Plant Certification Programme, as well as publishing a good practice guide for the handling, transportation and erection of precast concrete.
The Precast NZ Plant Certification Programme provides specifiers, contractors and their clients with confidence that products purchased from a certified plant are backed by an established operator with appropriate facilities, quality assurance programmes and experienced staff.
Precast NZ executive director Rod Fulford points out that regardless of application — architectural, structural, cladding, civil or other — purchasing from a Precast NZ certified plant ensures the product has been manufactured at a facility with quality systems audited by an independent body.
Precast NZ certified plants have invested heavily in modern equipment, oversight procedures and staff training, with the intention of delivering quality.
While cheaper alternatives may be available, cost should never be the only consideration. Recent history has demonstrated that when contractors accept the lowest price, issues with delivery and performance can cause significant disruption and additional cost.
A comparison can be made between the Precast NZ Plant Certification Programme and the New Zealand Ready Mixed Concrete Association’s Plant Audit Scheme.
An experienced builder is unlikely to purchase ready mixed concrete from an uncertified plant.
Mr Fulford believes a similar approach should be adopted when purchasing precast concrete products, and suggests specifying that all precast concrete be sourced from a Precast NZ certified plant.