06 September 2012 – Lighting infrastructure is essential to facilitate safety and lower security risks for highways, roads, residential, commercial and industrial areas. However, this infrastructure can itself pose a risk if it is not maintained. The same goes for communications towers and masts. Lighting Structures, a business unit within Jasco Energy, identified a serious gap in the market in 2011 in terms of infrastructure structural integrity and maintenance and, a year later, its maintenance division has become a fully-fledged operation, contributing 12% of the company’s turnover.

Jasco Lighting Structure’s maintenance division caters to the lighting infrastructure maintenance needs of the public and private sectors, as well as that of specialised industry sectors like mining, transport and the ICT sector. It recently expanded its offering to include testing and assessment of the structural and civil soundness of the masts and towers used in the communications industry and has added another item to the solutions menu; a complete electrical operational check, which includes all the electrical switchgear components for these industries.

Francois van Zyl, divisional managing director of Lighting Structures, says, “The maintenance division was established in 2011 on the strength of two contracts – the first signed over a year ago with AngloGold to assist with the refurbishment and maintenance of lighting masts at one of its mines; and the second, a successful bid for a three-year maintenance contract for the Nelson Mandela Municipality which we won in 2011. More to the point, however, is the fact that the awareness campaign we have since run has led to numerous enquiries across industry and exposed a glaring hole in the upkeep and servicing of these structures. Many organisations do not know the condition of their infrastructure and that it can pose a safety risk.

“The maintenance service offering is a natural extension of what the company does”, Van Zyl says. Lighting Structures manufactures monopole type steel masts for lighting and has a dominant share of the local and African market. Sister company WebbLeBlanc designs, supplies, manufactures and constructs masts and towers for the communications industry. The companies share a sizable manufacturing facility in Gauteng, have strong in-house engineering skills and access to the IP and global operations of the LeBlanc and Jasco groups.

“Age and environmental conditions – humidity, wind, rainfall – will affect the condition of the infrastructure over time, as will damage done by extraordinary events, like road accidents, mechanical failure, or theft of components. We offer a complete mast refurbishing service, including manufacture of standard replacement parts. Based on site findings, we develop and plan the scope of the remedial work together with our clients. Upon refurbishment a certificate of structural integrity is issued per structure by our resident engineer. A full service record is kept to ensure regular maintenance is carried out.”

Structure integrity assessments include corrosion and weld condition checks; checking for missing members, loose nuts and bolts; checking the mechanical working components and mast climbing facilities; and auditing the foundation footing and anchor bolt condition by applying ultrasonic testing. This basic service has been extended to include a complete electrical operational check, which includes all electrical switchgear components.

Lighting Structures will target state owned enterprises such as municipalities, power utilities, transport (ports, harbours and railways) and defence facilities and installations, and is also looking at the telecommunication sector and refineries. It has recently submitted tenders to SANRAL, Transnet and ACSA.

“We have received a number of enquiries from telecommunication companies, fixed and mobile operators, who require structural audits on existing infrastructure. Along with the number of tenders now being issued in the public sector and by large contractors in the transportation sector, this reflects a new awareness of the challenges relating to infrastructure and the need to address it timeously and effectively,” van Zyl says.