By Benjamin Brits
For those who attended Frigair this year, this article will be a reminder to keep of the great experience, and for those who were not able to attend, we aim to highlight all the best the exhibition and SAIRAC workshops had to offer.
By now you would have heard that FRIGAIR 2022 was, in all respects, a massive success. And for that, the organisers and owners have offered great thanks and acknowledgement for all role players – be they the exhibitors, visitors, or members of the organising teams. Having been a part of this experience hands-on this year was really an honour. From the build-up to the break-down I was enlightened as to the amount of work that actually goes into such a great event.
Not only was it an experience witnessing the operations side of things, but what is involved behind the scenes with marketing, online aspects, social media, photographers and videographers, planning and arrangements, setting of objectives and teamwork. Reality is though, to cover the scope of an event of this nature is not something that can be given justice in any amount of pages in a publication, or online. So, my hope is that at least someone from your organisation, or that you know, could give you a first-hand account and information transfer!
One thing is for sure – FRIGAIR 2022 was once again a proven platform that enabled engagement on a variety of products and services where visitors were able to see, touch and explore to their hearts’ desire. There were thousands of visitors at this year’s event (over 3000 to be more precise) and the quality of participants was praised from both exhibitors and visitors alike. It was very impressive to see the efforts put in and that was evident by the spectacular, eye catching, interactive and well executed delivery of each and every stand.
If you were one of the unlucky to not make it to FRIGAIR 2022, the official website will remain active for the next few months with various media you can have access to. You can also download the official show catalogue to have all of the information you need from the exhibitors directly on your device or workstation for future reference.
“The show was excellent for SAIRAC both in terms of the high number of visitors, and the quality of the exhibitors and the quality of their stands. This is especially in light of the past two years and the fact that many people are still ‘careful’ to meet up in person. The exhibitors have shown that the South African industry is world-class in terms of products and services. Many exhibitors chose to launch or showcase their latest innovations and products on their stands, showing that FRIGAIR is the perfect platform for this. The feedback from exhibitors in terms of the visitor numbers and quality of engagement was also extremely positive. SAIRAC itself also experienced a high number of visitors to their stand. Many of these were members who came to say hello and chat about the industry. After two years of not seeing anyone, it was really smiles all around as we reconnected with old colleagues and industry members. There were many new enquiries to join the Institute and if they all come through, the institute would in fact add another fifth to its membership. The quality of the networking opportunities was a further standout. All role players are looking forward to 2025, to come together at the next show”, said Jaco Pieterse, SAIRAC president.
FRIGAIR was also, for the first time, co-located with four other trade exhibitions, namely Facilities Management, Securex, A-Osh and Firexpo. This combination offered visitors many aspects of learning and contact generation for their businesses and operations. A combination exhibitor function was held as one of the evening events.
SAIRAC held their now-traditional member breakfast, where industry also partook to celebrate and issue several of the institute’s past presidents with recognition certificates for their respective terms, efforts, and leadership. They included:
- Barney Richardson
- Ron Williams
- John Ackermann
- Patrick Burke
- Derick Truscott
- Andre van der Merwe
- Grant Laidlaw
- Marius la Grange
The show trends from all participants
Considering the overall feedback from exhibitors and visitors, several key trends emerged, including the following:
- Good number of visitors and stands to engage on
- High quality visitors and exhibitors alike
- Excellent platform to reconnect with existing customers
- Perfect platform to find and interact with new potential customers, to build awareness, showcase and discover all of the latest products and innovations
Highlight of products, services and technology
It was not surprising that at this year’s event, nearly 50% of exhibitors used the opportunity to showcase something new from their products or services range, demonstrating the changes that have happened in the sector since the last gathering. This in fact mirrors the advancements of technology around the world – particularly over the last two years.
Similarly, the other exhibitors had either refined their focus or expanded their range to address the needs of the ever-changing HVAC&R world. Digitalisation of products and services was further another key trend as the ability to gather data, but also increase efficiency has become critical for all stakeholders that require any HVAC&R functions. What was further evident this year was the fact that great interest in commercial refrigeration and related facilities was on the table, with expected activity in the cold chain to show double digit figures over the next five years and retailers are now more than ever seeking ways to gain a competitive edge. Similarly, air quality has moved high up the list for space occupants and so the need to explore specific technology that can be deployed without re-inventing systems or by using portable solutions held interest.
With the event’s theme being “Natural Refrigerants”, several suppliers showcased their latest offerings in this line of products that will see a shift as older refrigerants are being phased out. Ammonia systems are already used widely while CO2 systems are seeing increased deployment and even the use of propane is experiencing a fast shift in commercial applications as well as use in AC systems. For retail applications self-contained display fridges and freezers using this refrigerant are already out in the market in their thousands and for quite some time.
Several conversations surfaced at the event around leapfrogging certain refrigerant replacements directly to natural refrigerants as technology and system capabilities are moving at such a rapid pace. Also of concern is the trajectory of the country’s phase-out of harmful refrigerants with high ozone depleting substances (ODS) and global warming potential (GWP).
Some of the products and services at FRIGAIR 2022 included both locally manufactured as well as imported products:
- Technology and new solutions in insulation and energy transfer
- Progression of, and several new aspects of fans
- Air and filtration solutions (including HEPA)
- Air treatment and air flow, and exhaust systems
- Grilles, louvres, and dampers
- Ranges of refrigeration racks and skids
- Packaged units, coils, and heat exchangers
- Retail display equipment in traditional and multi-use applications
- Controllers and control systems (building management systems), and software
- Zone control
- Transcritical CO2 systems and components
- Latest technology in energy saving products
- Display fridges and freezers
- Air conditioning systems (split units, VRF, portable units)
- Evaporative cooling technology
- Cooling towers
- Refrigerator doors coming in various materials and styles
- Storage and freezer doors and systems
- Insulated panels and systems (and various core materials)
- Humidification and dehumidification units (adiabatic, isothermal, dessicant)
- Traditional and smart/digital tools, measurement devices and detectors
- Transport refrigeration solutions
- Variable speed drives
- High performance lifts and truck restraint equipment
- Components (seals, vibration, valves)
- Refrigerants and refrigerant recovery, and refrigerant lifecycle management
- Biodegradable, environmentally friendly systems and solutions
- Ducting and ventilation
- Training for technology changes and safety
- Associations and official bodies, government department DFFE
- Sensing and control equipment
- Modular HVACR solutions
- Flow-Ice and freezing systems
- Space comfort solutions
- IoT technology
Although this year’s exhibition was not able to host the ASHRAE workshops owing to unforeseen circumstances, the owners and organisers have earmarked these courses as a specific highlight for the 2025 experience. Be sure to look out for information related to these courses in future.
The South African Institute for Refrigeration and Air Conditioning (SAIRAC) did however execute the hosting of 10 free-to-attend workshops during FRIGAIR 2022. These included local speakers from industry and government that primarily gave updates to some key elements in the industry from a regulatory, training and process perspective, as well as sharing of experience on best practices and technology aspects. Two international specialists were also involved who offered up their expertise to discuss the very impactful topics around HVAC&R systems. These free-to-attend workshops were well attended.
The speaker presentations (where agreed in their work being shared freely) will also be showcased in future. The 2022 workshops included the following topics:
- Refrigerants safe handling, registration of authorised refrigeration practitioners, categories of registration, the registration and renewal processes, time frames and limits. Requirements, roles, and responsibilities. Presented by Barney Richardson of SARACCA.
- Certificates of Conformance (CoC) for refrigeration/air conditioning systems in line with the pressure vessel regulations. Registration for, and issuing of, the new online certificates of conformance. Presented by Eddie Cooke and Virginia Mtshali – SAQCC Gas.
- The South African signing of the Kigali amendment, phase down/out of HCFCs and HFCs, and an update on the South Africa’s HCFC Phase-Out Management Plan (HPMP). Presented by Margaret Molefe of DFFE.
- Installation of insulated structures: aspects of design, common types of insulation used for cold structures and clean rooms, planning and installation, quality control, on-site inspections and approval of works. Presented by Archie Steyn of African Cooling Systems.
- Energy efficiency in hydronic cooling distribution systems. In general, the topic dealt with in this workshop was energy efficiency in central air-conditioning (cooling) hydronic systems from the centralised production site to local sub-stations and terminal units. Architecture of chilled water distribution systems and the design and installation of heat pumps and polyvalent heat pumps was covered. Presented by Luigi Rossettini (international speaker) from Aersa/Aermec.
- Servitisation in refrigeration and how it supports the use of natural refrigerants and shifts the focus sharply to life-cycle cost. Servitisation is a well-known tool in many industries and is a relatively new concept in refrigeration known more commonly as Cooling as a Service (CaaS). Preented by Dawie Kriel of Energy Partners.
- The status quo of air conditioning and refrigeration training in South Africa. It covered the latest qualification outline and addressed regular questions involving natural refrigerants, flammable hydrocarbons, apprenticeships, qualifying staff, trade testing, and future training changes and additions. Presented by Grant Laidlaw of ACRA.
- Driving a circular economy and the latest refrigerant trends. The topic included the use and disposal lifecycle for refrigerants and why there is a need to change our outlook on how we deal with refrigerants (phaseout and quota mechanism). Presented by Werner Terblanche from A-Gas South Africa.
- Prevention by design educated participants about the basic elements of SANS 893: Legionella … , as it relates to evaporative cooling equipment. Using the specific written guidance of the SANS 893 documents, it was demonstrated how the proper design, operation and maintenance of evaporative cooling equipment helps to reduce hygiene risks and facilitate better compliance with the guidance and recommendations of SANS 893. Presented by Robert Downey (international speaker) from Baltimore Aircoil Company.
- Using plate heat exchangers in closed circuit cooling towers to save on OPEX and CAPEX highlighted the cost saving benefits of using plate heat exchangers as a substitute for coils. Presented by Louw Nagel of Industrial Water Cooling.