Countdown to pipes conference under way

28th June 2019 By: Mamaili Mamaila - Journalist

Countdown to pipes conference under way

PIPES XII The conference – themed Not all plastics are alike – will take a closer look at the quality standards that govern the manufacturing and installation of high-performance plastic pipes and pipe systems

The countdown to the 2019 PIPES XII Conference – which is hosted by industry body the Southern African Plastic Pipe Manufacturers Association (Sappma) – has begun.

Presenters at the conference – themed Not all plastics are alike – have been invited to take a closer look at the quality standards that govern the manufacturing and installation of high-performance plastic pipes and pipe systems, says Sappma CEO Jan Venter.

“Globally, plastics have been the target of criticism recently, with many demands being made to ban plastics. However, what people tend to forget is that plastic is an excellent material, offering numerous benefits and advantages over other materials,” he notes.

When used in the production and manufacturing of polyvinyl chloride or high-density polyethylene water-pressure pipes, for example, plastic ensures substantial financial savings, helps to protect the environment and reduces the environmental impact of piping systems, Venter argues.

“Plastic pipes have lower manufacturing and transportation costs, offer better long-term maintenance and higher recyclability than pipes made of alternative materials. Our modern world simply cannot exist without plastics, nor should we want to because it is a very useful, intelligent material.

“What we are seeing, however, is the plastics industry taking more responsibility for the end-of-life and disposal and/or recycling of their products.”

Venter believes that less single-use plastics will be used, as the industry and governments globally are starting to work closer together to find workable solutions for their waste crises. There will also be better-quality plastic products entering the market that are made to last longer and be recycled effectively when they reach the end of their life cycle.

“I am confident that we are on the cusp of an exciting future, as global pressures are forcing the industry to reposition itself, make the necessary changes, and come up with innovative solutions and inventions that will benefit it for years to come,” he enthuses.

These and other benefits will be highlighted by conference presenters, who include local and international experts such as polyethylene and polypropylene provider Borealis consumer products and pipes application development engineer Stefan Schiesser, pipes manufacturer GF Piping Systems project service sales manager Antoine Walter, engineering plastics company Agru technical business development department head Albert Lueghamer, University of Pretoria engineering lecturer Marco van Dijk, product solutions company Safripol’s senior technical service and development engineer George Diliyannis, consulting firm Genesis Consulting owner Mike Smart, produce developer and manufacturer Sun Ace technical manager Renier Snyman, civil engineering consultants Onno Fortuin Consulting owner Onno Fortuin, plastics industry body Plastics SA training executive Kirtida Bhana, marketing corporation Avesco owner Jacques van Eck, solutions provider Uponor project manager Anders Nystrand and pipes supplier Pipes CC owner Alaster Goyns.

Additionally, economist and political commentator Dr Roelof Botha will deliver the keynote address on the first day.

Further, Sappma decided to change the format slightly this year by doing away with parallel sessions. Instead, the conference will take place over two days, providing attendees with an opportunity to attend all the sessions while speakers enjoy the benefit of interacting with larger audiences and maximum exposure.

The conference will remain true to its format of local and international speakers, displays and exhibitions, with a lot of opportunity to network and interact with fellow conference goers, presenters and leaders in the industry.

“Amid tough economic conditions, we are trying our utmost best to keep the event as affordable as possible to enable as many people as possible to attend while keeping barriers to attending as low as possible. We rely heavily on our sponsors who support us each year, and this year is no exception,” Venter says.

He states that the conference – which had 300 attendees in 2018 – will also extend a special invitation to final-year and postgraduate engineering students to attend the conference. Sappma feels that the students stand to benefit significantly from learning not only from the best in the industry but also about new innovations, as well as the developments and challenges facing the industry, first-hand.

Moreover, Venter mentions that Sappma has recently decided to broaden its base by recruiting new members in the suppliers category.

“We have also created a new category of membership for water authorities and municipalities. Owing to water distribution being such a large part of our business, and the current lack of knowledge and expertise in this regard, we feel certain that this will add significant value to our industry.”

The conference will take place on August 27 and 28 at Altron Business Park, in Midrand.