South African Bureau of Standards

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The South African Bureau of Standards (SABS) is a South African statutory body that was established in terms of the Standards Act, 1945 (Act No. 24 of 1945) and continues to operate in terms of the latest edition of the Standards Act, 2008 (Act No. 29 of 2008) as the national institution for the promotion and maintenance of standardisation and quality in connection with commodities and the rendering of services.

As the national standardisation authority, the SABS is responsible for maintaining South Africa's database of more than 6,500 national standards, as well as developing new standards and revising, amending or withdrawing existing standards as required.

Internationally, SABS experts represent South Africa's interests in the development of international standards, through their engagement with bodies such as the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC). South Africa has a long and proud history of involvement with these bodies and was a founder member of ISO. On a regional level, the SABS currently holds the Secretariat for SADCSTAN, the standardisation body for the Southern African Development Community of 14 nations.

SABS Commercial (Pty) Ltd, a self-financing division within the SABS, offers certification, testing, consignment inspection and other services, mostly to industry. Apart from offering systems certification and product testing against the requirements of South African National Standards (SANS), SABS Commercial also operates its proprietary product certification scheme – the SABS Mark of Approval – a universally recognised icon in South Africa, assuring buyers that products are safe, fit for purpose and offer redress.

Historically, the SABS also undertook certain regulatory functions on behalf of South Africa. In keeping with best international practice, this regulatory function was separated from the organisation's standardisation and certification activities, via the promulgation of the new Standards Act and the National Regulator for Compulsory Specifications Act in September 2008. Under these new laws, the former SABS Regulatory division separated to form the National Regulator for Compulsory Specifications (NRCS), a new organisation also residing under the Department of Trade and Industry.

The revised SABS mandate laid out in the new Standards Act also resulted in the SABS Group formulating a new Vision and Mission:

Vision: “To be the trusted third party who offers uncompromised value-added standardisation services”

Mission:

  • To protect the integrity of the South African market and the end consumer.
  • To create a competitive advantage for South African industry.
  • To improve market access locally and internationally.

In a move to improve its service offerings and responsiveness to customer needs, the SABS also restructured its commercial services into seven industry clusters:

  • Chemicals
  • Electro-technical
  • Food & Health
  • Mechanical & Materials
  • Mining & Minerals
  • Services
  • Transportation

This restructuring has served to provide more focused, specialised services to industry, along with improved turnaround times. Sector Boards have been established to engage with each cluster on their needs, and new cluster-specific sales teams offer the advantage of sales representatives who know their market intimately.

Headquartered in Groenkloof, Pretoria, the SABS also maintains offices in Durban, Cape Town, Port Elizabeth and East London, and operates specialised facilities at Richards Bay, Secunda, Middelburg and Saldanha. With the opening of the SABS representative office in Shanghai, China, during April 2009, the SABS expanded its international footprint to 46 countries.

The SABS is accredited by both the South African National Accreditation System (SANAS) and the Raad voor Accreditatie (RvA) of the Netherlands.

Annually the SABS has the design awards. These are awards given in technology however the claims are not properly verified.

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