In November 2016, Apex Steel Limited organized a seminar at the Hotel Radisson Blu in the Upper Hill area of Nairobi, to inform and educate key industry players in the construction industry about their latest product, the Apex TMX-Bartec couplers. Being the market leader in innovative construction solutions, the company has introduced the Apex TMX-Bartec Coupler, a mechanical splicing solution into the growing Kenyan market, which bears the International Standardization Mark (KEBS-ISM).
Apex Steel Limited the pioneer in steel manufacturing in Kenya for the past 46 years is the first Kenyan company to introduce ribbed bars in 2006 manufactured to BS4449:2005 standards, Grade of 500+ to the Kenyan market in 2006. It went on to attain the Diamond Mark of quality from KEBS, for its steel products which are of proven high quality. Apex has also attained the Super Brand status in recognition for its exceptional brands and the company is now also LEED certified, producing environmentally friendly (green) steel in support of sustainable development. As a consequence of it’s consistency n quality, Apex Steel supplies deformed bars to iconic projects namely the Thika Road Highway and the Standard Gauge Railway.
In partnership with the world’s leader in mechanical splicing solutions, Dextra, Apex steel Limited has acquired state of the art technological equipment to facilitate the bar end preparation process of deformed bars, to accommodate the use of couplers on all construction projects.
The Bartec Coupler is a mechanical splicing solution that guarantees a 100% bar break performance. This means that for a given rebar grade, the coupler and rebar make a connection that is stronger than the parent bar. When the joint is subjected to a tensile test, there is a 100% guarantee that the fracture will occur at the parent bar and not the splice (coupler).
There are several technical benefits of using couplers in comparison to the conventional method of overlapping for steel continuity. First and most importantly, couplers ensure improved structural ductility and integrity (due to improved steel continuity); they reduce steel congestion in structural members and allow for safe transfer of electrical currents to the earth by concrete structures. In addition to that, modern construction methodologies can be applied on projects such as the use of slip forming, which has been applied only once in Kenya.
With the introduction of couplers, this methodology can now be used as Apex TMX Bartec couplers significantly reduce the need for protruding or bent bars on site, leading to faster construction cycles, increased productivity, reduced crane time and an enhanced health and safety environment for contractors. The time savings from a holistic project approach are also quite huge and now contractors can meet deadlines earlier, effectively reducing construction costs.
The Apex TMX-Bartec equipment prepares steel reinforcement in a three step process known as the bar-end preparation to facilitate the use of couplers. The first step is a clean saw cut to ensure a flat surface for steel butt to butt contact, a cold forging process to increase the diameter of the bar (which guarantees the bar break performance) and finally an ISO metric parallel symmetrical threading that gives the connection its full mechanical performance.
Fig (i) Isometric coupler threads profile.
1) Saw cut to length. 2) Cold forging(note the increased bar diameter)
3) Parallel threading. 4) Bartec Equipment (3 machines for the process)
Fig (ii)-Bar end preparation process
Installation of couplers on site can be done in two ways; Type A connection (Standard Splice) and a Type B (Position splice) connection. These connections are dependent on whether the rebar to be connected can move or not. For a type A connection, both or one bar can move, while for a Type B connection, none of the bars can move and the coupler is used to make the connection, an example being a fabricated cage connection.
Standard splice-Type A
Position splice-Type B
Fig (iii) – Types of connections
According to the Apex Steel Limited Executive Director, Mr. Kush Nathwani, the introduction of Apex TMX-Bartec couplers comes at a very critical time in the construction industry in Kenya, when iconic high rise buildings are dotting the beautiful Nairobi skyline, thus, engineers and contractors will require more modern and efficient construction technologies to achieve these feats of mega structures.
Commenting on the benefits Mr. Nathwani stated that, “As Apex, we take pride in being the pioneers of the best innovative construction solutions to the Kenyan market”. He also indicated that the concept is officially available in Kenya and Engineers, Architects and Contractors have welcomed the move.
Apex Steel Limited supplies Bartec couplers for steel diameters ranging from 12mm to 40mm and is fully capable of meeting the demand in the local market. The supply of couplers comes with additional fully automated ‘cut and bend’ services which are all undertaken at the Apex Athi River plant. Cut and bend reduces steel wastage on site and also leads to time and labour savings, as contractors spend less time to fabricate and assemble steel on site. Some of the structures that have utilized ‘cut and bend’ include the Radisson Blu, Britam Towers and Thika Road all of which stand firmly on Apex TMX Grade 500+ steel.
Recently, KEBS in partnership with the Kenya Association of Manufacturers released a reminder notice that effective 1st of April 2017, only steel products conforming to Kenyan standard KS-573 for cold worked (high yield) steel bars and KS-ISO 6935-2 for Ribbed bars, should be manufactured and offered for sale in Kenya. The ban on manufacture and sale of square twisted bars is going to create a huge demand for the Apex TMX steel reinforcement and the company is geared up and well equipped with the production capacity and distribution network to meet this demand.