For this year’s Columbus Stainless Steel Awards, the Southern Africa Stainless Steel Development Association (Sassda) has doubled the number of judging panellists, increased the number of awards and winners, having received more than 50 project entries, which followed the addition of ten more categories to broaden the scope for sector submissions.
Compared with previous years, this is a huge uptake, snowballing from the 2014 awards and making this year’s event the most successful since its inception in 1998, says Sassda executive director John Tarboton.
“The idea behind increasing the number of judges and including outsiders was to create more debates and discussions of project entries to ensure that the best projects win.
He says vigorous, robust discussions were held before project winners were decided on, a process which “worked well”.
One of the twelve judges on the panel, specialist industrial communications company Mettle Strategic Creativity founder Luke Hartdegen says companies have been more willing this year to use stainless steel in more interesting and complex ways, as opposed to using alternative metals.
“The awards are growing in the right direction, as the complexity of entries was great, with an enormous overall improvement,” he adds.
A total of 143 entries were submitted this year – compared with the 44 entries received for the 2014 awards – with 39 winners in 16 categories.
One category is that of the overall competition winner. This year the award went to South African tank container manufacturer Welfit Oddy, the second- largest manufacturer in the world of tank containers.
“Welfit Oddy has shown the ability to diversify, grow and is the only remaining tank container manufacturer in South Africa,” says Tarboton.
The word “brilliance” in this year’s Sassda Awards theme – “Stainless steel, it’s simply brilliant” – alludes to the metal’s aesthetics, its technical brilliance as a manmade, noble metal and its financial benefits, Tarboton elaborates.
For example, stainless steel requires low to no maintenance, such as infrequent wipe downs, whereas carbon steel needs continuous maintenance in the form of painting and repainting when necessary.
Tarboton highlights that companies should recognise the long-term investment of entering the Sassda Awards.
“Our aim is to continue creating knowledge about the importance of doing so for companies in the stainless steel sector and we encourage them to engage with the relevant various categories.”
He adds that, as a bonus for winners, Sassda initiated the creation of a logo for companies that have won the different cate- gories of the previous biennial awards, encouraging the use of the logo on the respective company’s marketing collateral.
However, reflecting on the 2014 Sassda awards ceremony, Tarboton expresses disappointment regarding the architecture building construction category, for which there were no winners, owing to the poor quality of project entries.
He says that, although the 2014 awards were considered a success, certain barriers had to be eliminated to allow for more growth and dynamism at this year’s event at the Indaba Hotel, in Fourways, Johannesburg.
Tarboton explains that the different categories included in this year’s awards are a better reflection of what has been done in the stainless steel industry and what deserves to be rewarded.
He elaborates that previous award categories did not reflect the needs of the stainless steel industry as well as they could have, hence, the decision to add more subcategories under the support, sectors, products and business categories.
The support category comprises the student, environmental, services and welding subcategories, while the sectors category comprises the art, catering and hospitality, food and beverage, architecture, building and construction, and engineering subcategories.
The products category focuses on the different types of steel and comprises the duplex stainless steel, ferritic stainless steel, manu- facturing innovation and product development subcategories.
The business category consists of the export achievement, business excellence and lifetime achievement subcategories.
Tarboton mentions that more subcategories allow for broader participation by projects in the various stainless steel varieties.
Meanwhile, he notes that a further boon was getting 14 sponsors for this year’s event, especially since the aim was to get ten sponsors, the same number of sponsors as for the 2014 event.
The main sponsor for this year’s event was flat stainless steel products manufacturer Columbus Stainless. Their headline sponsorship automatically qualifies them for naming rights.
Tarboton believes that this year’s success is indicative of industry positivity.
“There was also an upturn in the quality of projects submitted, which indicates a clear brand identity for the awards which has taken on a life of its own,” he concludes.