By Benjamin Brits

The national annual general meeting of the South African Institute of Refrigeration and Air Conditioning took place in Port Elizabeth on 11 August 2022 at the Beach Hotel.

Concluding the regional annual general meetings, several aspects of activity and financials were presented by outgoing president Jaco Pieterse and national treasurer Grant Laidlaw.

All of the regional committees were extended without changes for a further term, the only changes to the institute’s national executive came in the form of the official proceedings involved of incoming president Robert Fox and now immediate past president, Jaco Pieterse.

Further, according to the voting that took place, Gordon Banks was elected as the new vice-president for the 2022/23 year. 41 ballot papers were received for the nomination. The two scrutineers of the votes were Mr G. Grobbelaar and Mr C. Hendricks. Banks will continue in his current role as chairman of the Durban region committee.

Pieterse, in conclusion of the proceedings of the AGM, provided a vote of thanks to the outgoing council 2021/2022. “I would like to thank these council members for their support and dedication over the past year Thank you for going the extra mile for our institute and industry in general. Without your efforts, SAIRAC would not be the sought-after institute recognised today,” he said. “I also want to thank our national secretary, Ms Marlene Gamble who one can always rely on to have SAIRAC’s administrative duties up to date and keep the SAIRAC engine running smoothly.”

Fox was welcomed as the new incoming president and presented with a gift of a brown leather file and SAIRAC presidential tie.

2022-2023 incoming president’s message (By Robert Fox)

As the new incoming SAIRAC president for 2022-2023, it seems like only yesterday when I was asked if I would consider joining SAIRAC and to serve on the Johannesburg centre committee, looking back, I said let’s give it a year and see where we go from there, little did I think in five years’ time, I would still be a member of the Johannesburg centre committee and be the new SAIRAC president for 2022-2023.

Over the last two years, due to the global pandemic and economic downturn, we have faced many challenges which SAIRAC and the industry had to adapt to, by providing products, solutions and new or different ways of working.

In June 2022, we held the Frigair Expo (which was postponed from 2021) and resulted in a successful event that was enjoyed by both visitors and exhibitors, where one reconnected face-to-face.

If we look at SAIRAC’s mandate as defined by its constitution – which is to advance the arts and sciences of refrigeration, air conditioning and the allied arts and sciences, encourage scientific research and study, the dissemination of knowledge and information amongst members, to achieve our mandate – we at SAIRAC are looking at restarting face-to-face technical talks, enrichment courses and if a face-to-face technical talk/enrichment course is not possible, then to hold it virtually where applicable.

We are busy planning our Dreosti Memorial Lectures for June 2023, as soon as the details have been finalised we will announce the event to our members and industry.

With the electrical generation issues in South Africa, the industry and consumers must look towards more energy efficient equipment and systems, this brings me back to a statement I made back in 2007 at a function where I said “we need to look at energy efficiency in systems as energy costs would be increasing on average at a rate of at least 20% per annum,” little did I realise how true my statement would become 15 years later.

To meet this requirement of energy efficiency, we need to utilise more efficient refrigerants with a zero-ozone depleting potential (ODP) and a very low or zero global warming potential (GWP), and over the last few years SAIRAC has been promoting the use of natural refrigerants, namely:

  • R717 – Ammonia (NH3),
  • R744 – Carbon Dioxide (CO2), and
  • Hydrocarbons: R290 – Propane

Currently one is seeing immense strides in research and development in increasing energy efficiency in equipment and systems utilising natural refrigerants, particularly in the use of hydrocarbons.

I offer a reminder that the SAIRAC website is continually updated, which serves as focal point for information to our members and committees.

I would like to extend a welcome to the 2022-2023 national council members:

  • JHB: Gregory Grobbelaar,
  • CT: Mr Archie Steyn,
  • DBN: Mr Gordon banks, (Vice President)
  • PE: Mr Craig Hendricks,
  • National Secretary: Ms Marlene Gamble,
  • National Treasurer: Mr Grant Laidlaw,
  • National Bookkeeper: Ms Moira Fullard

Our immediate past president Mr Jaco Pieterse set a goal at the commencement of his term, for SAIRAC to strive to reach the one thousand paying members mark, we will be continuing to try to achieve this goal. Let’s continuing building a future with SAIRAC for another 70 years.

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