Inox Systems bends the rules

By Tristan Wiggill

Inox Systems is changing the shape of the plumbing industry with its South African-made corrugated stainless steel pipes (CSSPs).

24Eric and Ofir Levi with line technician, Tladi Mokotedi (middle).

Based in Germiston, Johannesburg, Inox Systems manufactures and supplies CSSPs for hot and cold water supply applications in four sizes.

While it officially commenced trading in 2012, brothers Eric and Ofir Levi had already begun their CSSP journey back in 2010, importing small quantities of the product from Asia.

The manufacturing facility in Germiston opened in 2015 and currently carries a substantial amount of stock.

“The formation of the business was more about solving the issues we were having on site than a commercial business decision,” says general manager Eric Levi. “We looked around for alternatives, but we weren’t satisfied.”

According to director Ofir Levi, the biggest issues were pipe theft and leaky soldering.

“The South African solar water industry employs lots of semi-skilled labourers, especially in projects financed by the government. Usually, the first thing to fail with solid pipes is the soldering, if not done properly. Our product can be used by less-skilled plumbers, as no soldering or particular expertise is required. And there’s less wastage, too, because you only cut what you need,” he says.

Solid pipes, in certain applications, are more difficult to work with and require more space to store and transport, whereas their flexible product can be rolled up neatly.

The growing solar industry in South Africa provided the duo with early momentum, as low-pressure geysers were being fitted to thousands of RDP houses.

“When we started in the solar industry, flexible plastic pipes weren’t allowed to be fitted externally,” says Eric. “We felt there was a need in the market for an affordable, flexible piping solution made from steel.”

Inox products are suitable for most water distribution applications in residential, commercial, and industrial structures. The value of corrugated stainless steel pipes (CSSPs) is less known than that of copper, reducing the likelihood of theft. Inox products are designed to provide continued, reliable, and corrosive-free service for extended periods. Inox manufactures pipes in 5m, 15m or 30m lengths.

Local is lekker

Their manufacturing process is largely automated. “There is minimal manual labour involved in the manufacturing process and the raw materials are more or less the same price in South Africa. Imported welded pipes carry import duties and it can take up to eight weeks for a container to arrive from Asia,” Eric explains.

Each of the four production lines in the factory can produce two kilometres of corrugated pipe per day.


We have the machines, we understand the product, and we are one of the pioneers of this product in South Africa.


“By manufacturing locally, we can supervise and maintain our quality levels. If variations are needed, or if the SANS standard changes, we can react quickly. Our sister plant in Asia also doesn’t make the sizes stipulated in SANS 1689.”

The fact that the company manufactures in South Africa helps with backup and customer support. “We will do our utmost to ensure stock and parts availability,” Ofir assures.

“Some guys that import can only bring in a couple of containers. Sometimes people dump the product in the market and then they disappear. The factory has been a large investment, so we’ll definitely be sticking around,” he assures.

Local commitment develops the industry and employs people. “We have between five and 10 people involved now, but when we get to the volumes we want, it could rise to 50 or even 100 employees.”

Offshoot industries are also being created.

Steely resolve

Both men say the late Dirk Vorster from Easyflex was the man who initiated the development of the SANS 1689 standard and who drove the process forward in South Africa.

“It was a team effort — a whole bunch of people were involved over a four-year period, and we’ve received support from both the SABS and other working group committee members,” Eric explains.

Inox Systems and Easyflex had to design and construct unique testing equipment to be used in the product’s certification process. The testing equipment had to be properly calibrated as well. Once testing is concluded, the equipment will be used in the company’s manufacturing facility to periodically test samples for compliance and quality.

Everything written in the standard has to be tested, which includes pressure, hammer, and drop tests. The pipes have also been evaluated by an independent laboratory.

Ofir says the intention with SANS 1689 was to make it difficult to achieve so that companies entering the market do so with high-quality offerings. “When it comes to the Standards, you don’t want to be lenient. We can’t allow other companies to lower the quality.”

“Besides manufacturing quality CSSPs, we want to ensure the plant’s compliance with environmental standards. Therefore, we pay particular attention to the disposal and storage of harmful materials such as nitric acid and ammonia.”

Corrugated stainless steel pipes generate a higher friction loss than that of smooth bore pipes. Pipe size selection should be done in a manner that will compensate for CSSP friction and allows for the required supply at the fixture under peak conditions. 304L-grade stainless steel provides good corrosion resistance for most applications. Eric and Ofir Levi with line technician, Tladi Mokotedi (middle).

Always online

The company’s website, www.inox.co.za, is not a selling tool but rather an information resource, complete with illustrated installation instructions, product pictures, and technical data.

Inox Systems also provides a replacement warranty.

While Inox Systems can supply fitting kits for the pipes, they are sourced from Easyflex (developed by Vorster), with whom the brothers share a close working relationship.

“Our strength is that we’ve been around for a while, we have the machines, we understand the product, and we’re one of the pioneers of this product in South Africa,” Eric states.

He says their mission is to supply high-quality, easy-to-use products. “We want to be a recognisable brand in South Africa and able to supply abroad.”

The brothers also believe the African market is huge and waiting to be tapped. “We’re looking at Botswana next, where in part, the plumbing industry still uses older piping technologies. The African market is very open-minded, but we need to grow the business smartly,” Eric concludes.


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