THE Southern African Plastic Pipe Manufacturers Association (SAPPMA) has reiterated its insistence that only top quality pipes manufactured by members who adhere to the association’s Code of Conduct and who meet the stringent quality standards will be allowed to bear the SAPPMA mark.

SAPPMA Chief Executive Officer Jan Venter said board members took a conscious decision during a recent strategic planning session to sharpen their focus on quality and adopt a no-nonsense, uncompromising stand when it comes to pipe manufacturers who fail to comply or are found guilty of misconduct.

“It has always been SAPPMA’s mandate to ensure that our members only produce and market top quality products that are fully compliant to all relevant standards and specifications, to promote and ensure ethical business activities in all areas of operation and to ensure that the SAPPMA mark is used to clearly differentiate between quality producers and others,” Venter said.

He said that they have not hesitated to act against members who were found guilty of taking short-cuts or failed to meet their standards during various announced and unannounced factory audits.

“Due to enormous expenditure on research and development by polymer manufacturers, modern pipe grade materials have such excellent properties that it is now impossible for any pipe engineer to ignore them. This is highlighted by the dominant market position of plastic pipe in just about all pressure water and gas pipe as well as sewerage applications.

“However, the plastic pipe industry is also facing growing temptation to cut corners for the sake of saving a few Rands. A combination of factors, such as the failure of the SABS, the big gap that exists between supply and demand, margins have come under pressure and rising raw material prices, have exacerbated this problem with HDPE pipe in particular.”

However, said Venter, SAPPMA remained resolute in its decision not to lower standards or to turn a blind eye when members are found guilty of non-compliance, even if it runs the risk of losing long-term members through expulsion.

“We represent more than 80% of the pipe manufacturers in South Africa who have all agreed to our Code of Conduct and voluntarily committed themselves to maintain the highest ethical standards in all their professional dealings. Seeing the SAPPMA mark displayed on pipes therefore gives the quality assurance that the product will last in excess of 100 years without failure because it was manufactured according to the highest quality standards. We are willing to lose members and make the unpopular, hard decisions to ensure that the integrity of our brand, our name and our industry remain intact.”

He urged specifying engineers and decision makers to ensure that they insist on SAPPMA or IFPA membership when drawing up specification, and that only pipes bearing the association’s logo be used for projects.  He also encouraged the public or concerned parties to submit pipes for independent testing should they have concerns about irregular or sub-standard pipe.

“There is a clear difference between pipes bearing the SAPPMA logo and that were manufactured by our 5-star members, versus cheap imports or locally produced pipes that used inferior-quality raw materials or include recycled content.  Time will soon tell when pipes are of poor quality, but this is an expensive and disruptive mistake to rectify and one that can easily be avoided.”

 

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