2013 has been an extremely successful year for SBS Tanks and, as a result, for the producers of this premium product, SBS Water Systems’ managing director, Delayne Gray, tells Water&Sanitation Africa.

“In March, we launched our own SBS Tanks range, which is a Proudly South African range, developed, manufactured and installed by SBS Water Systems,” says Gray. The company has also just reached over 700 installations, which is not only a monumental achievement in any sector given the recent financial constraints faced in the international and local markets, but which has increased its demand for staff incrementally.

Additionally, as the staff quotient has grown, so has the need for space to foster the existing growth trend. “As we manufacture our SBS Tanks range on-site, we had to expand our premises to another manufacturing warehouse. We are extremely proud to be expanding our business while other companies in our industry are being forced to close,” says Gray.

Proudly South African
Part of the reason for SBS’s continued growth and success is its investment and support of local organisations and associations that are aimed at growing not only the capacity in the water sector, but in the population at large as well, in order to meet its growth and development goals. “We boast our new accreditations such as our affiliation to the Proudly South African campaign, Southern African Institute of Steel Construction and the International Steel Fabricators.

These are added to our list of already accredited bodies such as WISA, The Automatic Sprinkler Inspection Bureau (ASIB) and the Institute of Municipal Engineering of Southern Africa (IMESA),” says Gray. Moreover, in February 2013, SBS started the process of applying for the SABS ISO 9001 accreditation. This is a prestigious and internationally recognised standard for quality, which will be applied to both SBS’s business and products. “The second stage of the audit has been completed and we are looking forward to receiving the SABS ISO 9001 accreditation in January 2014,” he states. Gray adds that in September 2013 SBS was nominated by Martin & Associates for the 32nd Steel Awards and was ultimately recognised for its innovative design of the 3.3 Mℓ SBS Tank. “This is the biggest steel tank installed in Southern Africa to date and was manufactured, supplied and installed by SBS Water Systems,” he explains.

The sky is the limit
This nomination was definitely a highlight for Gray and the SBS team, as well as passing the first stage of ISO accreditation. “We are the first and only company in our industry to be nominated and start the process on this accreditation.” He adds that as such these can also be seen as the company’s greatest achievements to date, but by no means the last – the sky is the limit in 2014.

“The need for our new manufacturing warehouse is an indicator of how our business has grown with reaching over 700 installations,” says Gray, adding that while the staff numbers were 30 just over a year ago and are now 55, in part in order to cope with the increasing demanding of installations and manufacturing, the increased staff quotient is not only as a result of the growth trajectory – in fact, it is the other way around. “We attribute this to the hard work of our staff who always go beyond what is required of them, our loyal clients who continuously believe in our product and choose us as a preferred supplier, and our business partners who have assisted us in the development of our premium SBS Tanks range.”

However, as a result of the growing staff, staff development at SBS is taken very seriously. “We have a training schedule that includes induction to our company, induction to the ISO 9001 system within the company, health and safety, on-site installations, forklift training and many more. This development of our staff is essential in making sure our company and products are manufactured to the highest of standards,” says Gray.

Facing forward
When asked what the focus will be for 2014, Gray is very assured in her answer. “We have five main applications for our SBS Tanks range and we look forward to being the industry leader in each one. These are the municipal, mining, fire, commercial and water conservation industries.” The applications within the different industries are almost limitless and include fire sprinkler and hydrant water storage, emergency water supply, potable water storage, raw water storage, water treatment plants and process water and waste collection.

“We have industry specialists who make it their job to know what their industry requires from us as a company and our products. Each SBS Tank is made per the industry and client requirement. The size of the tank required is discussed and made as per the site allows,” says Gray.

As such, 2014 holds much in store for SBS Water Systems in terms of innovation and possibly new products. “The new SABS ISO 9001 system has already implemented a huge change in SBS by focusing on each department’s objectives and procedures. SBS directors decided to implement the system so the company can provide clients with a quality product that has had all the checks and stamp of approval. As the company grows, it is our aim and promise to maintain good quality products and services to meet the clients’ needs,” he says.

In addition, the company will still maintain its dominant presence in the industry through participating in a number of key conferences and exhibitions. “We will be participating in the IMESA Conference & Exhibition in 2014 and by that time will have our full accreditation with the SABS ISO 9001 standard.”

Project priorities
Having reached 700 installations, the number of projects lined up for 2014 are also set to break all previous records – as is to be expected with the new ISO accreditation. Some of the exciting projects lined up for the next few months or recently completed include the Mariannhill Monastery project, which involves the installation of a 112 kℓ SBS Tank to store water for a new agricultural project in the region, which will, according to Gray, be completed in the months to come. Another recent project is the 50 kℓ SBS Tank installed in Gengeshe in KwaZulu-Natal, to act as a holding and storage tank for the community’s water supply.

“SBS Water Systems is proud to be working in association with AECOM on the manufacture, supply and installation of an SBS Tank to the UMK mine near Hotazel in the Northern Cape,” says Gray, adding that the SBS Tank will be used for potable water storage on the UMK mine site and has a gross capacity of 1 126 kℓ. “This size tank takes approximately four working days to manufacture and was installed on the site by the end of July 2013.”

Another noteworthy project is the recent installation of CTM’s rainwater harvesting tanks by SBS Water Systems. Why CTM decided to harvest rainwater in tanks is pretty simple, explains Gray. “The idea of utilising SBS Tanks for rainwater harvesting at CTM outlets came about while planning renovations for some of the company’s premises around the country. The chairman of CTM takes great pride in the gardens that have been established at each of the company’s locations and it was a priority to keep them looking their best. At the same time, being an environmentally conscious business, it was important to conserve and limit the use municipal water where possible. “SBS Tanks were chosen to be installed because of their extensive lifespan and closed top roof with no internal columns. The tank designs are aesthetically pleasing for the all sites, but in particular to the ones that are road facing. The service ability provided by SBS Water Systems on installation and after is one that we often speak highly of and will always recommend to fellow colleagues looking for an economic and environmentally friendly option for rainwater harvesting,” says Stuart Young of Afrika Edge Architects, who was tasked with investigating the options available for the harvesting of rainwater through the use of attenuation tanks.

Some fairly exciting projects lined up for 2014 include:
• Namoya, which will be receiving six SBS Tanks. This is one of the biggest mine sites in Africa.
• United National Breweries South Africa has ordered a 227 kℓ SBS Tank to store process and municipal water for the site.
• The second group of installations will be commencing in Flagstaff, which entail the installation of nine SBS Tanks to be used to hold drinking water for the community. “We currently have 180 size tanks available in the SBS Tanks range. These are available in diameters from 2.72 to 21.16 m and in heights from 1.14 to 9.39 m,” says Gray.

Trials, tribulations and triumphs
The importance of water storage – and proper water storage principles – cannot be underestimated, says Gray. “It is very important to make sure the water is not contaminated with bacteria if used for drinking. In the SBS Tank, the water does not come in contact with the tank wall as there is an SBS Tank liner that holds the water. This liner is in compliance with the Australian Water Quality Centre standard AS/NZS 4020-2005: Testing of Products for use in Contact with Drinking Water.” In addition, many clients still believe that a concrete tank is the best option, says Gray. “This is a common misconception, but we have proven that our Zincalume tanks are cheaper, easier and quicker to install and last longer.” In addition, the space on-site available for installation of the tank is the biggest challenge faced by the team, says Gray. “That is why we have so many variations of sizes so that we can accommodate any size site.”

Other challenges include transport routes on-site for many of the municipal tanks that are hard to reach. “We have our own SBS vehicles that are used to transport our tanks, which are then erected on-site. This saves any additional transport costs for the client, and we make sure the tanks are installed correctly,” says Gray.

These challenges are, however, not insurmountable. “Informing the industry through our media partners has proven to be the best form of overcoming these challenges. We are very active in our industries and attend most of the exhibitions and conferences held by our accrediting partners as well,” explains Gray.

The value of educating not only their clients, but the communities at large, is therefore immense. “Education about each industry’s needs is one of the most important roles for our company and clients to be involved in as it clears any gaps in miscommunication about our products and client’s requirements. At SBS, we constantly aspire to improve our knowledge on each industry’s needs and our range will keep on evolving to make sure these are met,” concludes Gray.