Being crowned ‘Best of the Best’ at the World Demolition Awards 2020, in addition to winning the Explosive Demolition category, in an online awards ceremony on 12 November topped out an extraordinary year for Jet Demolition. “The honour of being recognised as world leaders by our peers gave us an innate and indescribable sense of humility and was a reminder of the incredible talent of people we have the privilege of working with,” comments Contracts Manager Kate Bester (NDip Civil Engineering – PMP).
“Last year was extremely demanding. To have industry effectively grind to a halt amidst a global pandemic has never been factored into any risk strategy. As was the case with most businesses globally, it resulted in a very reactive approach that eventually evolved into a proactive approach to ensure the safety of our teams,” explains Bester.
Jet Demolition has risen proudly to the challenge of maintaining an ingrained safety culture, clinching its 19th consecutive NOSCAR award in 2020. These awards celebrate a commitment to developing, maintaining and implementing the finest in global safety practices and speak of the commitment to safety throughout all areas of an operation. “Recognition on this level is encouraging and affirms our drive to tackle the most demanding and challenging projects head on,” highlights Bester.
Another challenge has been determining the impact of the pandemic on related industries such as construction. Of course, the South African economy was struggling prior to that point, with major projects suspended or put on hold. There certainly was a marked increase in the number of suspended projects when the pandemic took hold which, in turn, directly impacted the demolition industry.
“All contractors, whether demolition or civil, are systematically navigating these challenges as best as possible,” stresses Bester. Jet Demolition’s commitment to keeping its equipment modern, current and in good condition has assisted in mitigating what are ultimately short-term challenges. “The vast majority of our fleet is owned and in top condition, giving us the freedom to commit to projects as they arise,” adds Bester.
Could the demolition industry see an increase in the deployment of robotic or automated technology due to Covid-19 restrictions such as limited interpersonal contact? Such technology is ideal for operations where it is simply too dangerous to deploy personnel to the workface, including demolition works in an area prone to sinkholes.
“Although this technology is available and is in limited use, it will never replace the skill and capability of personnel with years’ experience. There is always an opportunity to improve on methods and strategies, but in an industry such as ours, the ability to read a structure, or to assess and reassess an approach based on the way it reacts during demolition, is still a long-way off from being replaced by remote equipment,” notes Bester.
As for growth and expansion going forward, Jet Demolition is always on the lookout for opportunities within South Africa and further abroad. “We have successfully partnered with companies such as Edifice Engineering for the Kochi Implosions Project, and look forward to partnering with other contractors wherever our services may be required. By partnering, other contractors are able to undertake projects that may require a specific skillset. Similarly we get to explore interesting countries and assist in some of the most challenging work out there.”
Bester remains upbeat about the prospects for the South African economy in 2021. “We hope to see an upturn in business as more companies and individuals learn to adapt to an ever-changing environment in ways that are responsible and proactive. The only certainty is that Covid-19 will be around for a while yet. South Africans, by virtue of who we are, remain resilient. We will adapt and adopt safer procedures and practices to keep our personnel safe and learning new ways of doing business.”
Bester concludes: “We have found the pandemic disruptive and our year-end a complete diversion from where we had hoped to be. We are adapting and transforming our practices to suit our new reality. As with the rest of the global community, we will continue to face these challenges head-on, implementing changes and improvements where necessary, all the while delivering the safest solutions to the most challenging projects.”