SBS Water Systems is a proudly South African owned company, providing water storage solutions in Southern Africa and beyond. It is able to rapidly deliver and install tanks for clients in the municipal, mining, commercial and fire protection sectors.

ESTABLISHED IN 1998, the company was initially a distributor of imported tanks and two years ago started manufacturing tanks locally, cutting lead times and expenses. According to Mava Gwagwa, SBS Tanks’ new business and key accounts manager: “SBS Tanks’ decision to manufacture our own tanks and reservoirs was based on a desire to deliver the same high-quality tanks we already distributed, but with much faster turn-around times and at a much better price. We buy steel directly from Steelbank, which is a local community-based company as well. The raw steel is cut to size, punched and profiled as per our unique modular designs. Rolling of the tank panels takes place in our Rolling Department here at SBS Tanks. All relevant components are welded and items are sent out to Phoenix Galvanising, a SABS ISO 9001:2008 and SANS 121:2001 certified partner. By manufacturing locally, we are able to pass on significant savings to clients and provide a high-quality liquid storage tank.”

A game changer for municipalities
Gwagwa is referring to the incredible reduction in lead time and the ability to have a reservoir manufactured, delivered and installed in a matter of weeks, as compared to the previous time frames, which could take anything from eight months or more.

“We recently delivered a 2 Mℓ reservoir for the Phumelela Local Municipality in the Free State. The area, a town called Memel, was fairly remote. This project had been in the planning for quite some time. Originally it was designed for concrete, but due to budget and time constraints, the local municipality changed the requirement to a steel tank. Our deadline was set for 28 days and we completed installation within 10 days. Now one must understand, the size of the tank specified would have taken a good concrete manufacturer more than six months to deliver. Since starting to manufacture our own tanks, we no longer talk in months, but days and weeks,” explains Gwagwa.

Like all successful operations, SBS Tanks has pre-engineered and fully certified models and is able to deliver these high standards across South Africa and beyond. “We currently have projects in Zimbabwe, the DRC, Sierra Leone, Malaysia and the US. Many of these orders originate from the mining and community water supply. Orders from local municipalities are growing quickly. Municipalities have realised that we supply a steel tank that is, in almost all situations, better than the conventional concrete tanks. We have representation in most provinces, including the Western Cape, Gauteng, Eastern Cape, Free State and – of course – KwaZulu-Natal. On the municipal side, this is absolutely critical. If you consider how often water is at the core of the service delivery protests, a municipality can truly address the issue of water provision easily and economically with SBS Tanks.”

The Esidakeni Water Scheme – Zululand
According to Gwagwa, municipalities are rapidly recognising the benefit of Zincalume tanks. The Esidakeni Water Supply Scheme is a project of the Zululand District Municipality, which had taken the decision to ensure better access to potable water access for the community. “This project of the Zululand Municipality demonstrates how SBS Tanks goes above and beyond for its clients in a partnership to provide clean potable water to local municipalities.”We received a call from the consultants\ – DLV Engineers – requesting quotes for various sizes.

The order took three days to finalise and three days to install. All parties were extremely satisfied, including the municipality, the community and DLV Consultants. The community now has access to pure, clean water in record time. This ability to turn a project around in record time within a limited budget suggests that partnering with SBS Tanks could avoid service delivery disruptions for many municipalities in South Africa.

Getting the benefits to market
SBS Tanks takes its partnerships with municipalities very seriously. “We can truly deliver a cost-effective and functional product to local governments and believe that this is to the benefit of the country, ”says Gwagwa. “We sometimes find resistance to our products; this is understandable as clients are used to using the standard concrete tanks and they often don’t realise how our steel tanks can save them time and money. We have industry specialist representatives available to explain every detail of manufacturing, installation and maintenance to clients. Once we meet with clients and give them peace of mind by showing them the design, cost and time frames, they then become aware of how our product can benefit them.”

Economy of scale, smart procurement and job creation
Gwagwa stresses that the savings are greater the larger the project. Many clients decide on ordering two or three smaller tanks rather than one big one. This allows the local municipality to reach more of the community. Gwagwa stresses that the savings are greater the larger the project.

Another key benefit for municipalities struggling to spend their entire budgets at the last hour is that they can order the tank without installing it immediately and store it themselves or with SBS Tanks. This kind of pre-ordering allows municipalities to practically deploy their budget to the public benefit, even towards the very end of the financial year.

Gwagwa says that local manufacturing has created jobs and other work opportunities: “Since we started manufacturing two years ago, SBS Tanks has created a significant number of jobs. The company employs three times as many personnel than it did two years ago and the installations often create work opportunities for the local communities – especially if the materials need to be carried by foot to an inaccessible site.”

Gwagwa notes that SBS is serious about playing its part in getting infrastructure and services to marginalised population groups. “No one is happy to see people struggling without services. SBS Tanks provides a real solution to municipalities facing the stressors of delivering services without necessary expertise or enough budget for cement infrastructure. The Department of Water Affairs made a serious commitment that everyone in South Africa would have direct access to potable water by 2014. Well, that time has come and SBS Tanks is ready to partner with these municipalities to provide what is essentially a simple solution, but one that seriously revolutionises communities ’lives.