The South African Plastic Pipe Manufacturers’ Association (SAPPMA) is playing a key role in maintaining quality standards in the industry, and assisting organisations such as the South African Bureau of Standards (SABS).
This was the message from Renier Snyman, technical and product manager at DPI Plastics, in a presentation at the PIPES IX Annual Plastic Pipe Conference on 8 September 2015 in Midrand. Snyman’s presentation was entitled ‘SAPPMA’s role in effective SANS certification: A passion for quality’.
As a founding member of SAPPMA, DPI Plastics has long played an important role in promoting the highest standards in the plastic pipe and fitting industry in South Africa. With SAPPMA representing about 80% of local manufacturers, it regularly engages with the SABS on behalf of its members with regard to issues such as permits, accreditation and the SABS mark.
“For example, SAPPMA has advised the SABS when it was considering the adoption of international ISO standards as opposed to our home-grown standards. SAPPMA was able to point out to the SABS that without careful consideration of local conditions, the industry could end up with a standard that manufacturers could not test to, and that may also not be fully applicable.”
Snyman explains that SAPPMA holds three-monthly meetings with the SABS. “We sit with the various SABS managers from the relevant departments to discuss issues of mutual concern.” The wider impact of this close association is that it benefits the industry as a whole.
“When SAPPMA is negotiating with the SABS, or bringing various matters to its attention, it is not only for SAPPMA members, it is for the whole plastic pipe and fitting industry. SAPPMA is really doing a lot for the entire industry, and not just for its members,” Snyman comments.
The latest issue that SAPPMA is grappling with on behalf of the industry is the fact that the SABS is unable to perform full specification testing on most plastic pipe specifications, including PVC and HDPE. In addition, it has stated that it will no longer accept partial testing or witness reports.
“No external reports will be accepted, which means if you are importing a product from Europe or elsewhere, the SABS will not accept a test report from an accredited European laboratory. Instead its policy states that it wishes to conduct on-site sampling, and then to sub-contract a laboratory to carry out the necessary testing,” Snyman highlights.
Commenting on the issue of no concessions being granted for any manufacturer in terms of the necessary testing and standards, Snyman confirms that this position is upheld by SAPPMA itself. “We do not want concessions as we are interested in the highest quality, and projecting an image of quality to our clients and end users.”
While finding some value in the SABS’s current strict stance, SAPPMA cautions: “There are a couple of companies in our industry with permits on the verge of expiring, or maybe that have expired, as well as applications for new permits.”
SABS cannot conduct full specification testing
Snyman points out that the current situation is complicated by the fact that while the SABS cannot conduct full specification testing at present, an independent laboratory has not yet been appointed either to take up the slack in the testing requirements.
“If your permit is expiring, or has expired, you are going to have an expired permit for quite a while until the SABS has sorted out its problems. If you are applying for a new permit, then the SABS is saying that, as we cannot carry out the full specification testing at present, your application is on hold at the moment.
“This is a serious influence on our business. It can project a negative image to our clients, who value an SABS mark. If a manufacturer loses an SABS mark, I think it is going to be very difficult for the client to understand it is not actually the manufacturer who is at fault, but that this is due to the current limitations of the SABS itself.”
Raw material testing
Other issues that SAPPMA has tabled for the urgent attention of the SABS is timeous testing, as some of the required tests involve 1 000 hours, for example, which can impose a considerable expense for a manufacturer if international testing is required. Another issue is raw material testing.
Snyman highlights that SAPPMA has urged the SABS to maintain the status quo for the time being. “What this means is granting permit extensions in the short term, for those permits that are about to expire, based on partial reports and witness testing.”
All key tests, such as pressure and impact testing, have to be adhered to in the interim. SAPPMA is also urging the SABS to accept reports from internationally accredited test laboratories until its own testing regimen is in order.
Meanwhile Snyman stresses that the overall quality in the local plastic pipe and fitting industry is increasing, as indicated by regular SAPPMA quality surveys. “The overall quality in the plastic pipe and fitting industry is on an upward trend, which bodes very well for the future,” he concludes.