Stainless reputation for Karan Beef

By Fiona Ingham

Karan Beef has an excellent reputation for high standards, and in 2014 management decided to beef up the ablution facilities for its 1 200 workers.

As the population rate escalates and people move to cities, so their income rises. This is accompanied by a higher demand for a more varied diet, which includes more meat. The Worldwatch Institute reports that global meat production has tripled over the past 40 years and increased 20% in just the past 10 years. According to market research company Euromonitor’s report on South Africa, the performance of fresh meat improved over the course of 2013, with sales growing by 3% in volume terms.

In South Africa, the Meat Safety Act (Act No. 40 of 2000) governs the hygiene of animal slaughter for food production and the treatment of animals at abattoirs. Karan Beef is located in Balfour, about 80km south-east of Johannesburg, and complies with the very stringent health laws of the European Economic Community for the production of fresh meat for import.

The brief

The brief was to design and install the toilets, basins, showers, and urinals for a large industrial change house for 1 200 workers at Karan Beef’s factory in Balfour. Burgess and Partners was selected as the plumbing contractor, who worked with CKR Consulting Engineers.

Plumbing contractor Darryl Brainin, a director at Burgess and Partners, explains that when the staff arrives at work they have to shower to remove any contamination and dress in boots and other protective clothing before they enter the factory. When the shift finishes, they return to the ablutions facility where they shower again to remove any possible contamination. Within just a two-hour period, about 700 people shower. The workers’ protective clothing is laundered off-site, Brainin added.

No beef about showers

CKR Consulting Engineers wet services consultant, Steve Franklin says that for the new facility, samples were supplied of a range of equipment. In addition, mock-ups of four or five types of taps and various types of flush valves were installed in working conditions, after which the client selected their preferred fittings.

The European Economic Community stipulates that to export beef no water can stand on any of the floors of change areas. Adequate drainage had to be installed in the changing area, the showers, and the locker rooms, explains CKR Consulting Engineers junior wet services engineer, Sharon Baise. The client selected stainless steel floor drains. “Drainage under the building and main drainage were installed in HDPE plastic with heat-welded joints,” she says.

“We had to analyse the shift population to ensure that the workers do not run out of hot water. We had to gather the data on how many people were starting shifts with a shower and ending shifts with a shower to gauge the numbers accurately. The design criteria also have to allow for mid-winter temperatures, as Balfour can reach below 0°C,” says Franklin.

“The client had very specific requirements in terms of materials and the type of sanitary fittings and taps to be used. The brief was that all the reticulation, both hot and cold, had to be in stainless steel. This was because the client was concerned about the hard water in the area that contains high levels of chlorine and they did not want to run the risk that the pipes would be corroded by aggressive water,” Brainin explains.

Water supply

Fortunately, the abattoir has a large internal cold-water reservoir and adequate pumps were available to supply the building with a good, constant water supply. In fact, Franklin explains, the water pressure was too high, so pressure-reducing valves had to installed. The soil drainage was also adequate and the professional team could cater for the gradients to meet the existing sewerage. They also didn’t have to install sewer pumps as this infrastructure was in place.

In terms of water supply to the showers, the client chose fixed-temperature metering-type shower valves and vandal-resistant shower roses. This results in less water being wasted, as the user does not have to wait outside the flow of water until the right temperature is reached. By depressing a button, the user discharges a predetermined volume of water through a shower rose at a fixed temperature. The shower turns itself off after a predetermined period, unless the user depresses the button again. Shower roses and taps have a flow rate of six litres a minute, explains Baise.

“The thermostatic mixing valve is where the magic happens,” says Franklin. To discharge the water at a predetermined temperature, a thermostatic mixing valve has a hot and a cold water pipe coming in and it mixes the water going out. The temperature is set by turning a dial on the valve. Inside the thermostatic valve is a wax-filled cartridge, similar to the thermostat in a motor vehicle. When a certain temperature is reached, the wax expands. As this wax expands and contracts, it opens and closes hot and cold ports within this valve to maintain the predetermined temperature. These valves can be adjusted, for example, to discharge water at a higher temperature in winter. We had to design on the assumption that all the showers were being used at the same time,” he says. 

Metering, low-flow bib taps were installed. The client selected tamper-resistant toilet and urinal flush valves. All of the showers, urinals, and toilets were selected with water conservation in mind.

A separate cold water supply was provided for toilets and urinals from the cold water system that serves the thermostatic mixing valves, to avoid any pressure fluctuations taking place within the showers when the flush valves are operated.

The aboveground reticulation comprises stainless steel 316L grade pipework with crimped fitting and joints. The hot and cold water pipes were externally insulated to a high specification and the insulation itself was covered with thin-gauge sheet-metal protection. The pipework was all externally mounted outside the building under the roof eaves, and the main reticulation was fixed from the ceiling slabs.

The hot-water reticulation runs around the circumference of the building, starting and ending at a large adjacent hot water plant room. In this plant room, two 16 000ℓ industrial, insulated and horizontal hot water tanks were installed, each of a working pressure of four bar. These were connected in series with valves to isolate anyone of them during times of maintenance. The hot water vessels series provides for a lesser stratification of hot water caused by incoming cold water, and hence more hot water is made available.

Three 140kW nominal output capacity air-to-water heat pumps provide hot water. These provide hot water energy at approximately one third of the cost of electrical resistance heating, says Franklin. He says that three 36kW in-line electrical emergency back-up heating elements were installed, should any of the heat pumps fail or be closed for maintenance.

The project ran remarkably smoothly, both Franklin and Brainin agree. “The stainless steel pipework has been installed in such a way that it looks like plumbing art,” says Brainin. Other than taking a long time to reach decisions and the contract period being long, it was plain sailing.  




Karan Beef


DWA Architects

Consulting engineer

CKR Consulting Engineers




Burgess and Partners


Wet services

CKR Consulting Engineers



Burgess and Partners

Product suppliers


Hot water tanks

Heat Transfer Engineering


Heat pumps



Stainless steel cladding

Vedder and Moffat


Flush valves

Cobra Flushmaster


External stainless steel reticulation

Geberit Mapress 316L grade


Toilets and urinals

Cobra Flushmaster


Underground drainage

Geberit HDPE


Metering taps

Walker Crosweller


Internal pipework




Geberit fusion weld systems


Floor drains



Shower roses









Balancing valves

Walker Crossweller



Karan Beef facts

Established in 1974

Ivor Karan established his feedlot on the Karan family farm in 1974 with fewer than 100 head of cattle.


Occupies 2 330 hectares outside Heidelberg and accommodates more than 12 000 head of cattle, making it the largest in Africa.

Feed mill

The largest and most modern of its kind in the world, capable of producing up to 1 500 tons of mixed feed every day.


Capacity to process 2 000 head of cattle every day.


Equipped to process up to 120 tons per day.

Meat inspection

All grading and classification at the abattoir is carried out by independent inspection from the Independent Meat Quality Assurance Service.

Quality certifications

These include ISO 14001, ISO 9001, HACCP, and ISO 22000.

Sales and distribution

Situated at City Deep in Johannesburg, this centre completes the supply chain.


Karan Beef is approved to export to Hong Kong, the Indian Ocean islands, the Middle East, and African countries.





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