Representative of the plastic pipe business the Southern African Plastic Pipe Manufacturers Association (Sappma) used the occasion of its thirteenth annual general meeting (AGM) held in Johannesburg recently to celebrate the successes achieved by this nonprofit association over the past 12 months.
Addressing the Sappma members and other interested parties in attendance at the meeting, Sappma CEO Jan Venter said during the AGM that the organisation looked back at the past year with a great deal of satisfaction at what had been achieved, despite difficult socioeconomic conditions and financial pressures bearing down on the industry.
“It is clear that the unstable political climate in the country has taken its toll on the economic front – in particular the country’s infrastructure. “While plastic pipes continue to dominate this market, a serious lack of growth was also recorded in the industry over the past ten years. This fact was reflected in the latest D+ grading of the country’s infrastructure by the South African Institute for Civil Engineers (Saice).
“Business conditions are not ideal and long- term planning is a very shaky science at present. Even so, we managed to not only survive, but in many regards grow and expand our footprint this past year. This bears testimony to our industry’s perseverance and a resilient attitude that refuses to give up or compromise on quality in the face of adversity,” Venter said.
Maintaining and Influencing Standards
Sappma’s main focus fell on maintaining standards and ensuring that only high-quality pipes are manufactured and enter the local market. This was done through disseminating technical and design information to the decision-makers and consulting engineers, marketing the Sappma and Installation and Fabrication Plastics Pipe Association (IFPA) brands to external and internal audiences and ensuring ongoing training for manufacturers and installers.
“We continue to strive for unquestionable quality when it comes to the production and installation standards of plastic pipes. To achieve this, we audited more than 40 companies this past year, and Sappma members received at least one unannounced visit,” Venter said.
He added that these audits were generally well received as members realise its value as a differentiator and they welcomed objective comments on their operations.
Additional quality standards that would further differentiate Sappma members are also currently being developed. This is an extension to work that was started years ago and will be addressing about 14 SANS Standards that the association adheres to.
“We are proud to announce that this project is nearing completion and will provide a great marketing tool for pipe manufacturers,” he explained. “To this end, Sappma is also represented on SANS Technical Committees and provides valuable insight where new standards are adopted and existing ones are amended and reviewed.
Updated, Relevant Publications
Other important and far-reaching projects that Sappma initiated during 2017 include a Structured Wall high-density polyethylene (HDPE) pipes project that evaluated about 16 different tests, sampling procedures and raw material requirements; publishing South Africa’s first policy statement with regard to gas pipe and the practical application of SANS 4437; and finalising of the latest edition of Sappma’s Technical Manual to offer updated, more accurate and more comprehensive information to designers and end-users of plastic pipes when it comes to selecting, designing and constructing plastic piping systems with confidence.
Spreading Knowledge and Expertise
“Undoubtedly, one of our biggest successes this past year was the hosting of our recent PIPES XI Conference. This was the first time that South Africa had the opportunity to host a dual international event of this magnitude for the plastic pipe industry, and we can say that it was a huge success by all accounts,” Venter declared.
He noted that, apart from a record number of delegates who attended this two-day event, Sappma also had 20 international speakers and almost the same number of local experts who presented their papers. Sappma’s international and local visitors alike commented that this was indeed a world-class event that helped to elevate both the Sappma brand and the importance of the industry to even greater prominence.
Merit Award Winners
Ian Venter, George Diliyannis and Jacques van Eck were recognised for their hard work and dedication on Sappma’s Technical Committee by receiving this year’s Merit Awards.
“Each year, the competition for the Merit Awards gets stiffer as our TC meetings are very well attended by knowledgeable and supportive group of experts, who truly bear the best interest of the industry in their hearts,” Venter remarked.
He concluded by once again urging Sappma members not to lose their long-term view, particularly in terms of quality. “Do not be tempted to take short cuts that will later come back at a cost. Difficult conditions always provide new challenges – also to an association such as ours. At the same time, however, it reinforces the need for a central organisation such as this. We therefore appeal to you to continue participating in all our activities – together we are making a difference!”