To remain competitive in a tough South African construction market, Actop Asphalt has extended its service portfolio with investments in two bitumen modification plants, a cold mix plant and a bagging facility, establishing the three-year old business as a one-stop asphalt product supplier.
At a time when the South African construction sector continues to reel under the pressure of a shrinking economy where road projects are few and far between, Actop Asphalt has defied the odds by maintaining a sustainable growth trajectory over the past three years. Part of the larger Actophambili Group, a renowned name in the South African road construction sector, Actop Asphalt now owns a total of four asphalt plants in a space of three years, testimony to its early growth course.
Actop’s very first asphalt plant, commissioned in early 2015 after the formation of the company in September 2014, is situated in Leandra, Mpumalanga, and has the capacity to produce 120 tonnes per hour – operating on a commercial basis. The second plant, located in Meyerton, a small town lying 15 km north of Vereeniging in Gauteng, also operates on a commercial basis, and has the capacity to produce 120 tonnes of asphalt per hour. The third commercial plant is located in Stilfontein, North West Province, and also has a 120-tonne per hour capacity.
At the end of 2017, Actop invested in its fourth plant, a 200 tonnes per hour super-mobile Ciber plant purchased from Wirtgen South Africa. Commissioned in mid-2018, the new plant is initially a contract-specific investment meant to service the Bambi-Lydenburg road rehabilitation project over an 18-month period.
Francois Kemp, Managing Director of Actop Asphalt, explains that a key driver behind the company’s sustainable growth within a short space of time has largely been its uncompromising focus on the quality of its product, especially driven by the understanding that quality asphalt results in long-lasting, high-quality driving surfaces.
“We have done extremely well in the three years we have been in business. Our early success has, to a large extent, been supported by our affiliation to the larger Actophambili Group, a key player in the road construction sector in the country,” says Kemp.
Almost 90% of Actos Asphalt’s work stream has come from Actophambili Roads in the past three years. However, the pattern has started to change in recent months with a sturdy flow of external contracts. Another growth driver is the recent focus on extending the offering, adding asphalt modification, cold asphalt mixing and bagging, as well as production of the Ultra-Thin Friction Course (UTFC), to its portfolio.
Actop Asphalt has recently invested in two bitumen modifying plants which have been co-located with the Leandra and Meyerton plants. “Bitumen modification was a natural extension for our business. This allows us to offer all the related services from a single source,” says Kemp.
Kemp adds that there is a growing demand for modified bitumen as project owners are increasingly recognising the benefits of using modified asphalt to reduce the amount and severity of pavement distresses and to increase service life. “The primary benefit of using modified bitumen is improved rutting resistance, with less thermal cracking and overall improved mixture durability being secondary benefits. Additionally, some modified binders provide improved stripping resistance,” explains Kemp.
Four months ago, Actop Asphalt also invested in a cold mix plant and a bagging facility. This allows the company to sell 25 kg bagged cold asphalt mix to mostly small pothole busting contractors. Kemp explains that the cold asphalt mixture is a high-tech road repair material, which can be used all day long. It is suitable for repairing different types of road surfaces under any environment, such as asphalt roads, parking lots, airport runways and bridge expansion joints. Cold mix asphalt is an ideal choice for non-engineered roads.
As part of the product expansion programme, Actop Asphalt is one of the few asphalt producers pioneering the development of UTCF in South Africa. In the past five years, UTFC has been successfully paved on some of the heaviest trafficked national highways in the country, as well as on other national routes, provincial highways, provincial rural roads, urban major and minor arterials.
UTFC is ultimately a very thin asphalt layer paved at between 15 mm and 20 mm thick while spraying a thick tack-coat to the road surface all in one pass. It has a number of functional properties and advantages over other conventional asphalt paving procedures and products. “We are busy with our certification for the production of UTFC. We had our first application last year and we have since been given the go ahead for a trial section,” concludes Kemp.