12 September 2019


Submitted by Monique Holtzhausen

The Southern African Plastic Pipe Manufacturers’ Association - with the support of Rare Plastics, Sun Ace, Sizabantu Piping Systems, NSF International and Pipeflo - has concluded hosting its very successful PIPES XII Conference. This year’s event took place on the 27thand 28thof August at the Altron Conference Centre in Midrand and attracted more than 180 delegates, 11 local and 4 international presenters, 15 exhibitors and 9 sponsors who gathered to learn about best-practice designs and applications, share ideas and discuss the latest innovations in so far as plastic pipe manufacturing and installations are concerned.  “This year’s event not only provided a platform for our own experts to present, but also drew international participation from as far afield as Germany, Austria and the Middle East. Delegates who attended represented a wide range of different ages, background and industries to include students and academics, engineers, industry representatives, local government, parastatals, pipe fittings and extrusion equipment manufacturers,  raw material suppliers and consultants,” reported Jan Venter, Chief Executive Officer of SAPPMA. 

Setting the stage: Good news for SA

Economist and scenario analyst Dr Roelof Botha, delivered an optimistic, witty and honest opening keynote address entitled: “Economic recovery beckons if the NDP is implemented” in which he unpacked the challenges and obstacles to growth, but also the exciting opportunities that await South Africa over the next 12 to 18 months.  Whilst poor economic leadership over the last 10 years has left South Africa reeling and resulted in GDP losses of at least R2.5 trillion, R653 billion foregone in tax revenue of cost each South African an average of R48 thousand, Dr Botha said that it was not all doom and gloom.  He shared good news of real growth reported in retail sales, mineral sales, short term insurance premiums, household and disposable income.  “Every problem we have (in South Africa today) can be solved with the right policies and right skills,” Dr Botha said, highlighting the need for more infrastructure and better governance “We are starting to see various green shoots as the positive effect of President Ramaphosa’s leadership. If this continues we can be confident of the future.  We have never been in a better position to grow the economy at significantly higher rates than ever before!” 

The role of plastic in pipes

The theme of the 2019 PIPES XII Conference was, “Not all plastics are alike” and presenters were encouraged to present their ideas around this theme.  “It is almost impossible to imagine our modern life without use of plastics.  This versatile material has become deeply embedded in our everyday lifestyle. Although the use of plastic packaging has come under harsh criticism by environmentalists and the public alike over the past year, it is important to recognise that not all plastic is bad for the environment. It is an extremely useful product that is used with great success in pipelines, appliances, cables, computers etc to reduce manufacturing costs, improve performance and reduce mankind’s impact on the environment,” Venter said during his opening speech.

Bigger markets and growing demand 

The other the presentations showed how research and development to improve the polymers and processing equipment are dynamic and ongoing throughout the world. This has resulted in the plastic pipe industry enjoying a dominant footprint in most countries. In South Africa, the market grew by 22 % over the past 7 years in order deliver the infrastructure needed support a growing population. Similarly, the development of new markets and applications were unpacked by the various presenters who focussed on outstanding properties of modern plastic pipes, such as flexibility, toughness, corrosion resistance, the growing demand for large diameter pipelines (with pressure pipe now up to 3m diameter), as well as various other exciting technological advancements and applications.   

Feedback from presenters and delegates

Feedback received from the delegates were very positive.  “This was my first attendance at a PIPES Conference and I thoroughly enjoyed the wide scope of presentations that were delivered. It was interesting to hear about the experiences from the end-users (engineers and consultants),” said Giel van Jaarsveld of SASOL, while Kudzai Jinjika of Proplastics said “the conference was exciting and informative. The excitement was maintained since the very beginning and the food and services were exquisite. I really wished it could be longer than two days!” “One of the best conferences I have attended, thank you!” said Japie Botha of Pro-Plan Consulting Engineers. International presenter Stefan Schiesser of Borealis said “This was a very open and fair conference with excellent possibilities for discussions in the breaks and at the end of the days,” while local presenter Onno Fortuin said “the interaction between industry, suppliers, engineers and planners are critical for the way forward”. 

Looking ahead

“Modern plastic pipe materials can be relied upon to provide cost effective pumping solutions, exceptional health standards and previously unheard of service lives.  For this reason, it is of great importance to host an annual industry-specific event where we can sharing the latest technical information about design, manufacture, maintenance, evaluation, testing procedures and standards. In an era where taking shortcuts and cutting corners have become the norm, SAPPMA plays an instrumental role in the development, advancement and maintenance of correct standards and performance of piping systems. Together with our members, we will continue to be the flagbearers for maintaining excellent standards and quality in a very important industry through the commissioning of reliable and knowledgeable consultants, pipe manufacturers and installers,” Venter concluded. For more information visit www.sappma.co.za

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Note to the Editor: 

SAPPMA as launched in 2004 to represent the interests of the well-developed plastic pipe business in South Africa and surrounding countries. The purpose of this voluntary, self-regulating association (registered as a Section 21 Company in terms of the Companies Act of SA) is to create consumer confidence within the plastic pipe industry by promoting the production and use of high quality plastic pipes and pipes systems. Only plastic pipes that are manufactured by SAPPMA members and are able to demonstrate that they meet local and international quality standards, are allowed to display  the SAPPMA logo.