THE SABS’ ‘internal directive’ that effectively halted partial testing at its test facility in Pretoria has had a fortuitous spin-off for the owners of a newly-opened testing laboratory in Wynberg, Sandton.

TACS Lab April

Khakhane Motaung (quality manager), George Mashinini (managing director) and Frederick Nkosi (technical manager) from TACS Laboratories (Testing and Conformity Services Laboratories) have installed state-of-the-art testing equipment in their Wynberg laboratories.

George Mashinini, managing director at Testing and Conformity Services (TACS) Laboratories says that the stance taken by SABS on partial testing “does not have to be bad news for local manufacturers and importers of electrical products”.

“Some of these tests – those that are within the scope of TACS’ accreditation from SANAS – can be done locally at our laboratories.

He explains that in April last year, Frederick Nkosi and Khakhane Motaung started putting together a state-of-the-art testing laboratory in Wynberg and that he joined them in July. “In January this year, TACS Laboratories received its accreditation from SANAS (South African National Accreditation System),” says Mashinini, adding that “the accreditation process was extensive but very rewarding”.

Frederick Nkosi, TACS’ technical manager, says the SABS ‘directive’ on partial testing forced some local manufacturers to take their products overseas to be tested. “With the exchange rate as it is, testing products overseas is very costly. Now, some of these tests can be done locally and, at TACS, we undertake full and partial testing according to clients’ needs.”

“Once TACS was granted SANAS accreditation, we began testing products such as switches, socket outlets, cord sets, plugs, adaptors, cable reels, connectors, conductors, ready boards, appliance couplers and terminal blocks. We also began testing all low voltage cables as well as undertaking the physical testing of medium voltage cables,” explains Khakhane Motaung, TACS’ quality manager.

“TACS has equipment to test fire propagation and smoke density for cable manufacturers, which is an advantage for the mining industry, local authorities and Eskom,” he adds.

Nkosi says that TACS can test more than one sample at a time on some of the test equipment. “This shortens the turnaround time for tests and, when time is an issue, this benefits our clients,” he says. “We don’t just offer explicit results – when required, we also support our clients by clarifying some of the complicated technical terminology that pertains to testing.

“Confidentiality is of paramount importance at TACS Laboratories, which is why we have stringent security measures and access control.”

Mashinini, Nkosi and Motaung have more than 60 years of laboratory testing experience between them. Mashinini was a lab technician in charge of the laboratory at Aberdare Cables for 14 years and he worked at the SABS as a test specialist and laboratory manager for 15 years.

Nkosi started as a trainee electrical engineer at ABI and 10 years later, he joined that SABS where he worked for 14 years as a test specialist and laboratory manager. Motaung underwent training at SABS and worked in the SABS test laboratory as a senior technician for eight years before he joined Powertech TIS where he was technical manager for five years. Both Nkosi and Motaung are registered as professional technicians with the Engineering Council of SA (ECSA).

One of TACS’ first clients was the SAFEhouse Association. Pierre Nothard, chairman, says he has used TACS twice. “They have delivered as promised and, most satisfyingly, have demonstrated an understanding of SAFEhouse’s needs and a willing and flexible attitude towards accommodating them.

Their business should do very well,” says Nothard.

Mashinini sums up: “We always had this desire to offer an alternative testing facility that would assist manufacturers and importers. The bigger picture is that we want to be a part of the solution to South African’s unemployment problem.”