Behind-the-scenes anticipation is building up, as the Southern African Institute of Steel Construction (SAISC) prepares to host its first in-person annual Steel Awards since 2019, prior to the Covid-19 pandemic. This flagship annual event showcases excellence in the use of steel in construction, and this year’s awards are set to reveal a significant number of ‘green shoots’ of growth and innovation within the local steel industry and value chain.
This is according to SAISC CEO Amanuel Gebremeskel, who explains: “The possibilities of steel as a material of construction are endless and wonderful! This year’s entries showcase submissions that are even more remarkable for having been conceived and completed during the very challenging global Covid-19 pandemic.
The Steel Awards event is known as an outstanding occasion through which the Institute continues inspiring the use of steel into the future – as well as promoting the capabilities of this infinitely diverse, resilient material to those within the local steel and construction industries.”
Facilitating community and conversation
Often referred to as the ‘Oscars’ of the steel industry, the annual SAISC Steel Awards provide an excellent platform to showcase the local steel industry’s capabilities, while those who work across the value chain – including merchants, processors, architects, engineers and fabricators – are recognised for their excellent submissions. The SAISC Steel Awards 2022 takes place on 13 October at Emperor’s Palace, Gauteng.
Denise Sherman, SAISC Marketing Director, clarifies: “The SAISC has always been known for facilitating important conversations within the community and bringing members of the steel industry together. Having held the last Steel Awards in 2020 via a virtual platform, the Institute’s members are looking forward to being able to network with each other in person once again, after the Covid-19-related period of enforced virtual contact.
We anticipate that this year’s Awards will be especially meaningful to our members after its absence last year. Good attendance is anticipated, with people travelling from all over the country to be present.”
Growth and innovation
Gebremeskel enthuses that, despite the Covid-19 pandemic, the local steel construction industry overall rose to the occasion remarkably in successfully completing many noteworthy projects within the past two years.
“During the judging period for this year’s Steel Awards, we saw how South African participants were able to successfully execute and complete large and complex projects – despite the many challenges and limitations presented by the pandemic,” he notes.
“ For example, this period brought great difficulty with regards to logistics and the supply of materials, as well as communication in general. The South African steel sector showed great strength, ingenuity and initiative in rising to the occasion – even while the sector in many other countries around the world was floundering.”
“I believe this speaks to the effectiveness of the Institute’s presence within the local steel landscape,” adds Sherman. “The SAISC is one of only 6 such steel institutes internationally; and we believe our guiding presence allowed the local steel industry to persevere and succeed during this difficult time.”
She adds: “The quality of the steel projects completed during 2020 to 2022 represents a triumph for the local arena and speaks to the ‘can-do’ attitude of South Africans in general – as well as our local steel industry overall. As such, we have seen significant ‘green shoots’ of growth and innovation in our steel industry pushing through in what was a very difficult environment. I believe it is fair to say that we certainly went against global steel trends.”
The key role of the SAISC
Gebremeskel agrees: “These examples of triumph over adversity were facilitated by significant planning and communication from the Institute, which was very active in the early days of the Covid lockdown period. For example, we participated in online meetings to assist with the sourcing of required materials. We also played a role in navigating the rules and regulations laid down by the government, to offer guidance around reorganising operational footprints to carry on with production.”
Gebremeskel notes that the steel and construction industries are constrained by tight programmes and schedules in general, to which globally constrained supply chains added serious obstacles.
“Nonetheless, the local steel industry players came together across the board – including the Institute and role players including the primary steel mill, mini-mills, processors, merchants, architects, engineers and fabricators – to facilitate the completion of projects,” he explains. “Those companies that were members of the Institute had an even better collaborative experience, as the SAISC’s presence created conditions of confidence and trust.”
A night of glitz and glamour
Sherman clarifies that the annual Awards 2022 event is being supported by a wide range of sponsors representing the entire steel value chain – and to whom the Institute is very grateful. “We have also introduced more categories to honour our competition entrants, with the specific purpose of bringing in more alignment to satisfy the industry’s requirements. The quality of entries has been very good, representing a broad spectrum of the uses of steel across different applications.”
Gebremeskel adds: “It has been refreshing to see people being bold and creative with their use of steel, and there is real excitement, ownership and investment in the Awards entries. We have also been pleased to see participation from a more diverse group than in previous years: for example, we have seen a younger generation coming through, with a wider gender mix. In addition, we have noted greater participation from architects: an important professional sector with which the Institute is forging closer bonds.”
“All in all, we can say confidently that we have planned a glamorous and festive evening: evoking the look, feel and excitement of a red carpet ‘Hollywood-style’ event. This also very cleverly incorporates the theme of ‘green shoots’, which represents the growth and innovation so key to successfully navigating challenging times. We are looking forward enormously to our night of glitz and glamour, to honour our Steel Awards entrants, the steel value chain and the application of steel throughout industry in general,” concludes Sherman.