Brick easy: Labour Against Technology Or The Technology Of Labour

Bricklaying is considered one of the first trades in the pre-historic era, due to man wanting a safe ,dry, warm place to live.

The Bricklay jig system for bricklaying is the only answer to the building needs of South Africa, for both the professional builder and the avid DIY enthusiast.

A robotic machine is unable to match the skill and speed of three semi-skilled labourers laying three thousand bricks a day, every day like a professional bricklayer.

When developing the Bricklayjig no robotics were involved only common sense and years of building experience.


Why Bricklayjig?

Bricklayjig is the tool that gives line and height and replaces the old building line, which consisted of a piece of string stretched between two points.

The Bricklayjig is a system that lies between two vertical posts and can be moved easily up and down to the next descript height.

When inventing the Bricklayjig my intention was to make the process of bricklaying as easy as possible for the bricklayer. To make it possible for even an unskilled bricklayer to be as productive as possible with as little downtime as possible.

With the Bricklayjig it is possible for even an unskilled bricklayer to lay 500 bricks per hour.


Construction Trends 2018

Confidence in South Africa's construction industry plummeted to 17-year lows in 2017. Policy uncertainty, slow economic growth and an underperforming rand were red flags to investors.

Are there grounds for a bit of optimism in 2018? Despite low investor confidence, the industry's output value is expected to rise at a compound annual rate (CAGR) of 1.5% over the next four years.

Urbanisation and government investment in low-cost housing, renewable energy projects and transport and logistics infrastructure are tipped as key drivers of projected (albeit moderate) growth.

Just how poor was performance in 2017?

2017 was a particularly challenging year for the construction industry. A reduction of skills, budget constraints and government's propensity to divide projects into smaller components in support of emerging black empowerment-based SMMEs led to dramatic rationalisation of the industry.

By September 2017, confidence was at its lowest level since the third quarter of 2000. Weak growth in construction activity, pegged at just three percent year-on-year, and a contraction of around one percent in the value of spending, contributed to poor growth.

Nonetheless, the past two years haven't been entirely without reason for optimism. According to a report by Statistics South Africa, the number of building plans passed in 2016 rose by 6% compared to the previous year, and the total value of newly constructed buildings grew by 8.3%.

What's coming for the industry in 2018?

In 2018, it's forecast that the construction industry can look forward to moderate growth. Government's plan to spend more than R940 billion on infrastructure development is welcome news.

In particular, social housing, renewable energy and roads infrastructure projects are expected to sustain growth. However, the protracted drought in the Western and Eastern Cape will pose a challenge for companies in the region.

Urbanisation and semi-migration are also viewed as drivers of growth. The demand for middle and high-income housing continues unabated, while densification policies in cities like Cape Town are manifesting in a mini-building boom.

2018 trends for the construction industry

CEO of Inyatsi Construction Group Holdings, Tommy Strydom, predicts that in 2018, the South African construction industry will continue embracing cost-saving measures in order to remain competitive.

He also predicts that the industry will:

The Ramaphosa factor

The wildcard in the projected outlook of the construction industry, and the South African economy as a whole, is the Ramaphosa factor.

Following the election of Cyril Ramaphosa as ANC president, the rand strengthened, the JSE enjoyed an extended rally and South Africa's business confidence index rose from 95.1 in November to 96.4 in December.

Ratings agency Moody's believes that the Ramaphosa factor is a "credit positive" result. It may contribute to a recovery in South Africa's credit profile, boosting investment and growth.

It's said that the construction industry typically lags the general industry in South Africa by about six months – so any green shoots in the local economy may well be early indicators of a more robust construction sector in the months to come.