The corrugated stainless steel pipe sector is gaining momentum as a cost-effective solution with latest developments having included the approval of a new SABS standard of lightweight waterline systems, following rigorous testing, driven largely by Sassda members Easyflex and Inox.
Sassda Executive Director John Tarboton comments; “With the price of stainless steel corrugated pipe now cost comparable with other metals such as copper; this type of piping provides a number of advantages when compared with ‘conventional’ pipes as they are light weight, flexible, require fewer connections and fittings, are self-cleaning and are less susceptible to extreme temperature and corrosive environments.
“In addition, they have far lower lifecycle costs. For example, a higher range of stainless steel such as Grade 316 has an average lifecycle of 100 years as does one slightly below that, for example Grade 304. It all depends on the correct grade being specified for the specific environment. For example, soils high in chlorides or sulphurous compounds would require 316, while in more benign corrosive environments, 304 is more than adequate.”
Another benefit is the local availability of corrugated piping now made accessible via Easyflex. Their ready to install fast installation piping, such as Flexible Hot & Cold Water Lines and Flexible Sprinkler Drops (used in fire protection) offers one of the best solutions for renovations and new constructions with its key advantage seen in its longevity and the advantage of quick and easy installations and relocations.
Flexibility & strength
Easyflex Director Rudolph Grabe explains, “The flexibility and the strength of stainless steel corrugated piping means that if you need to do a simple renovation such as add a shelf in a mall, instead of having to remove rigid piping, the contractor can instead move the pipe over to the next compartment. It really holds potential for other sectors too, such as solar geyser installations, heat exchange/boiler systems and the construction industry when it is specified by consultants such as wet service engineers and architects to be used in large scale developments.”
Easyflex is an international brand for which the owners hold the distribution right for Southern Africa. It previously traded under the name Solar Fusion which was headed up by the late Dirk Vorster, who championed his vision of testing and delivering flexible corrugated piping to the South African market. Dirk, together with Mathias Pankratz, also developed the necessary adapter kits which connect the piping to the current compression fittings offered by South African retailers. With the overwhelming market response received for stainless steel corrugated piping, Directors Rene Vorster, Shaun Vorster and Rudolph Grabe took up the baton – along with local manufacturer of corrugated pipe Inox – to obtain and hold the standard of SABS approval and certification for stainless steel corrugated piping manufacture in South Africa.
Following nearly four years of equipment manufacture, testing and standards approval, Easyflex received full certification in September 2017. Currently, the company offers a variety of pipe sizes ranging from 15mm to 50mm, the larger diameters being particularly relevant to the heat exchange industry. It distributes its stainless steel flexible piping for retail sale via a number of hardware outlets and distributors across the country and is undertaking training within individual stores as well as providing them with sales and marketing support at stores across the country.
Business Development Manager Luke Taylor explains; “With its lightweight and easy transportation properties – a 30-meter roll of corrugated piping weighs just 4kg – it offers fast installation time savings and lower costing in the overall product and installation lifecycle, and a security solution over that of copper against theft.”
Aesthetically, corrugated piping holds its own too with current design projects looking to use it in exposed installations. For example, a Steam Punk industrial type application in interior design projects and an additional benefit is that installations don’t require any specialised tooling.
Grabe comments; “Together with Sassda, we are invested in facilitating the delivery of locally manufactured stainless corrugated piping in South Africa. We have also developed adaptor kits for distribution out to the retail sector, so hardware and plumbing outlets can fit it on-shelf. These locally made adapter kits allow the user of the pipes to connect to existing water line systems using the standard SABS compression fittings already stocked by the merchants. This is a family business, so we engage with similar minded people while still maintaining the professionalism of a large corporate.”
Easyflex is still at the stage of creating demand locally, but once market tipping point has been reached, Easyflex aims to begin manufacture of stainless steel corrugated piping in South Africa.