Brown Engineering Group

SINCE Alastair Sole became Brown Engineering Group CEO in 2017, the company has diversified further into structural steel and construction projects. The company is the structural steel contractor for the new Eastgate SME Centre currently being built along Robert Mugabe Road in the CBD. (The Eastgate SME Centre was featured in Structure and Design issue 6.) They were the structural steel contractor for phase 1 of the Varun Beverages new Pepsi plant along Simon Mazorodze Road, and will be the main contractor and project manager for phase 2 of the development. They are also currently constructing a full turnkey contract for the new Bathroom Boutique showroom and warehouse along Simon Mazorodze Road.

Their current star project is the new premises for Yafet Enterprises, renting to Premium Leaf Tobacco, in Southerton. The project is a natural blend of Brown Engineering’s long standing involvement with the tobacco industry and their diversification into major structural steel and building projects. The structure is a huge open box measuring 180m x 75m which will be used for palletised tobacco storage as well as for retail tobacco sales. Brown Engineering is the main contractor handling every aspect of the project including the earthworks, steel works, the bricks and mortar, and the plumbing and electrics. The project has been undertaken on an EPC basis (Engineer, Procure, Construct) so that Brown Engineering has total control and oversight of the process from start to finish. The project started towards the end of May 2017 and was completed at the end of March this year – a remarkably short time for such a huge undertaking, in view of the fact that there was extensive groundwork and piling required.

The structure sits on a series of concrete pilings 11m deep, right down to the bedrock. Each piling has then been capped and supports an upright steel column set into the 150mm reinforced concrete slab. There’s a wall structure of bricks and mortar around the perimeter of the slab up to a height of 2.3m. Above that, and slightly offset to protect the masonry from rain, the steel cladding rises to 7.9m on the outsides and the roof rises to 10.5m at the apex. The design of the structure utilises taper framed columns and trusses in line with best practice standards from the European and Asian construction economies. There’s an estimated 320 tonnes of steel in the new structure, whereas a conventional design would require approximately 500 tonnes. This translates to a major saving on the cost of materials and the time factor required for such a massive structure. In addition the structure is aesthetically elegant, simple and clean.

The exterior cladding is punctuated by a series of standard doors to allow quick and safe exits in the event of a fire or other natural disaster. In addition there are two huge sliding doors, manufactured by Brown Engineering, as well as large roller shutter doors giving access to the loading bays. The bays are sheltered by cantilevered roofs which are the only distractions from the pure ‘simple box’ exterior.

Brown Engineering Group has an interesting history and equally exciting future. Strath Brown started the company in 1961, at that time it was called Manipular, and then J S Brown Industries. The company initially specialised in equipment and machinery for the agricultural industries. In 1986 Strath’s son Andrew bought the company and renamed it Brown Engineering (Pvt) Ltd, which has now become the Brown Engineering Group. Initially the company focused mainly on the needs of tobacco farmers, manufacturing and supplying bale boxes and bale presses, bale ties, implements, palettes, and other related equipment. Tobacco curing systems, namely, ‘the Tunnel’ saw huge development in the Andrew Brown era.

Brown Engineering is continually evolving and diversifying in a bid to become a leading engineering and construction house, servicing the agricultural, mining and commercial engineering sectors of the region. The company has made the shift to become IT driven, and employs some of the world’s leading but appropriate design, project management and fabrication software. The Group has a young and vibrant management team that actively hunts passionate and ambitious individuals to help grow the company’s future. The company sees renewable energy projects as a key consideration for the future. If you are looking to partner with a leading 21st century EPC contractor, the Brown Engineering Group may well be your contractor of choice.


text by Michael Nott

photos by Ronald Mazhindu and Tamirirashe Zizhou


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