The relationship between the Southern African Plastic Pipe Manufacturers Association (SAPPMA) and certification bodies such as the South African Technical Auditing Service (SATAS) and the Productivity Engineering Services and Consultants (PESC) continues to grow from strength to strength as these associations are increasingly supportive of each other’s efforts to ensure that only top quality plastic pipes and pipe fittings, that meet the international standards set by System Administration, Networking, and Security Institute (SANS) bear the SAPPMA logo of quality.

“The purpose of SAPPMA is to create consumer confidence within the Plastic Pipe Industry and to promote the production and the use of high quality plastic pipes and pipes systems that meet the quality standards as stipulated by SANS or ISO.  It would therefore be impossible for us to do our job without the involvement and support of organisations such as the SATAS and PESC who play a vital role in the sampling and testing of the products we send to them,” explains Jan Venter, Chief Executive Officer of SAPPMA.

In an effort to clearly differentiate SAPPMA members from non-members, the plastic pipes body announced earlier this year that it would be increasing the intensity, and in some cases also the frequency, of factory audits.  During these announced or unannounced visits by a SAPPMA quality inspector, pipe samples are taken and sent away for independent testing. Tests include checking for recycled content, internal pressure test, stress crack resistance, resistance to Rapid Crack Propagation, Melt Flow Index (MFI) etc. It is one of the prerequisites to being a SAPPMA member to allow these factory visits and for independent testing to be done on their products.  Only members who are in compliance and whose products meet the SANS standard, are allowed to bear the SAPPMA mark or quality.

SATAS operates as an independent Product Certification Body.  It obtained accreditation to certify manufacturers to the requirements of ISO 17065 through South African National Accreditation Systems (SANAS) in 2003, and has since then made it their mission to provide an internationally acceptable South African Certification Scheme which will enable its clients to compete on the international markets by awarding certification to manufacturers of product in compliance with the requirements of the relevant SANS standard. SATAS also participates in different technical Committees for National standards and Industry associations.

“It has been our experience this past year that SATAS is becoming more efficient both in their unannounced surveillance inspection and auditing of product, as well as in the feedback they give to the industry and the issuing of permits.  They have highly trained, knowledgeable personnel appointed in strategic positions, that know and understand our industry and are therefore able to give valuable and insightful recommendations after they have performed their surveillance activities,” Venter explains. 

In the same way, the Pretoria-based PESC has grown into an important productivity monitoring and enhancement company that gives feedback to SAPPMA on issues relating to plastic pipe characteristics, properties and flaws they might have picked up during their product testing.  The company has made a considerable investment in new, state-of-the-art testing equipment that is compliant with the latest international standards and is currently in the process of moving to larger premises in order to deal with the growing demand for sample testing on their automated testing facilities which allow for accurate testing and quick turn-around time. 

Concludes Venter: “It is encouraging to see how the market has opened up for more service providers who are able to offer certification and testing services.  In previous years, we have had to deal with the frustration of long turn-round times for tests to be performed and results to be forthcoming from individuals who had little or no knowledge of the industry.  Samples were sent overseas at great expense to be tested despite the fact that we had local testing facilities. Understandably, serious questions were being asked about certification.  The past 18 months have seen a marked improvement thanks to role-players such as SATAS and PESC without whom it would be impossible for us to perform our job effectively in ensuring that safety, environmental and ageing requirements of plastic pipes manufactured by SAPPMA members are met”.

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