SA Market Update - Corobrik's Managing Director, Dirk Meyer reflects on the impact of 2010 and gives his thoughts for the prospects in 2011

Dirk Meyer says, "After a promising start to the 2010 calendar year, bolstered by the activity around completing World Cup infra structure projects, there was little in the pipeline to sustain volumes."



"The highlight for Corobrik during 2010 has been the extensive specification and use of clay paver products for the major inner city redevelopment programmes, beachfront promenade upgrades and as used around the major stadia in Durban, Cape Town and Port Elizabeth.  Coming off this high, the challenge in second half of the calendar year has been to manage costs, increase our competitiveness and increase market share in a shrinking market.  Success has been achieved."


The year ahead


"There is every indication that we are at the bottom of the trough and that the current low level of activity will continue for the first half of 2011. The upturn will be determined by the return of confidence, interest rates continuing to remain low and, in the case of residential segments, the financial institutions relaxing their lending criteria for home buyers."


"In the prevailing market, we have focused investment in plant and equipment able to enhance manufacturing flexibility, to provide products more tuned to the affordable housing market that has remained relatively buoyant. In the paving market clay pavers are continuing to gain market share, having developed as a material of choice for enhancing hard landscape environments. Expanding our paver range with new shapes and textures is set to add impetus to that growth"


New Technologies


"Corobrik has benefited significantly from the introduction of new extrusion technology, that has resulted in fuel savings for the drying and firing of products, this in the order of 20%.  This technology innovation and the wider use of natural gas for the firing our products, (natural gas nearly halves the carbon footprint of clay brick manufacture), is driving Corobrik's embodied energy reductions in line with international best practice."


The single most important element in ensuring sustainability and growth for the industry "Undoubtedly, the single most important element that will ensure the sustainability of the clay brick industry is the substantive independent research by WSP Energy Africa and WSP Green by Design in South Africa. The results have debunked the premise that the resistance (R-value) of the walling envelope is the all important thermal performance property for optimizing thermal comfort and lowering energy usage for heating and cooling of houses in South Africa. 


Thermal capacity of walls, derived from the thermal mass inherent in clay bricks has been identified as a "must have" thermal performance property for providing the requisite 'thermal lag' to achieve optimal thermal comfort and lowest energy usage for housing throughout South Africa. No thermal capacity, no comfort optimization! This finding is set to reinforce clay brick walling as the most relevant walling system for housing in South Africa. "


"Simple clay brick construction works and works well and the research is quite clear that lightweight walling without the requisite thermal mass provided by clay bricks leads to a 'hot box' effect in the hot summer months, requiring the highest energy requirements for artificial cooling to achieve thermal comfort." 


"In lifecycle cost terms and lifecycle energy cost terms, the research shows that double skin clay brick walling with the appropriate levels of insulation depending on the climatic zone, is what is required if we are to best achieve the energy reduction targets set for South Africa and lower the countries peak power demand loads thereby reducing the stress on both energy production and the fiscal of South Africa.  These findings are set to provide a unique platform for the clay brick industry to reinvent clay brick in the context of the sustainability imperatives of the time. 


It is well accepted that sustainability is inextricably linked to durability.  The excellent thermal properties of clay brick combined with the incombustibility and inertness of fired clay that ensures no release of volatile organic compounds or CFCs to impinge on the air quality and people's health, elevates clay brick walling to an "environmentally friendly" status in a way that less durable new technology systems can only but aspire," concludes Meyer.


Circulated on behalf of Corobrik (Pty) Ltd





Contact: Peter Kidger

Tel:  ++27 31 560 3233

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