By John Ackermann | All image credits John Ackermann
Highly efficient systems ARE within reach of any business reliant on air conditioning or refrigeration for sustainable positive bottom line results.
What role does refrigeration play in your daily life? What role does refrigeration play in the economy of South Africa? Cooling in the form of air conditioning and refrigeration!!!
Cold chain logistics from farm gate to fork of fresh vegetables, sub-tropical fruits, table grapes, pome fruits. Fresh fish from offshore to restaurants. The distribution and storage of vaccines to remote rural areas. Air conditioning of operating theatres and intensive care units in hospitals. Comfort cooling in homes, restaurants, playhouses, banks, shopping malls, hotels, and luxury passenger coaches. The export of fruit, fish and meat boosts our foreign revenue. Close to 1 million people are directly employed in the refrigeration and air conditioning sector.
Ineffective refrigeration and air conditioning systems are energy guzzlers, costly in capital investment, high in maintenance costs, environmentally unfriendly, add to food wastage and a threat to the health of our citizens and foreign visitors.
The answer to high-efficiency lies in the technical experience and competency of those individuals that design, install, commission, maintain and repair A/C and R systems and plants.
The art and science of refrigeration has been studied and researched for centuries, and the development of new techniques, new refrigerants and energy saving innovations is ongoing.
The technological strides have re-affirmed the vital role of sound technical expertise and quality hands-on skills. There is no quick route or short cut to acquire quality hands-on skills backed with thorough theoretical knowledge.
The training of hands-on skills in South Africa has been in a state of flux and constant change for the past 30 years. Three-to-four-year apprenticeships at the many state-owned enterprises have given way to learnerships, short courses, training at TVET colleges, and thankfully at privately owned training providers.
“We feel strongly about uplifting industry skills.”
The voluntary registration by ACRICSA of persons as being competent to safely handle refrigerants has given way to being a legal requirement in terms of the Pressure Equipment Regulation introduced in 2009.
Regrettably a common finding is that staff who have passed through formal training at a recognised institution and then been employed in the industry, must be re-trained before commercially viable.
The difficulties in sourcing qualified artisans for his A/C & R contracting business motivated Hennie Basson to establish a state-of-the-art training college in one of his properties in Paarl.
The 20 apprentices on the payroll of Cold Fact transformed the building into the Raetech college – which was showcased to industry role players on 14th June 2022.
“The erection of the trade test centre, the installation of the many configurations of air conditioning units, the laboratory with R290 equipment, a cold room connected to a package CO2 system, and setting up of a welding shop proved invaluable training for our apprentices at different levels in their career paths. With the generous support by Daikin and Metraclark of equipment at reduced prices, the Raetech college represents a capital investment of R1,1m,” as stated by Hennie Basson.
As a training provider accredited by QCTO, the college will serve as a trade test centre and structure courses in line with the present learnerships, apprenticeships and the SARACCA Safe Handling of Refrigerants handbook.
Basson went on to say, ”We aim to keep our operating costs low to be able to offer quality training at an affordable level. It is not our intention to undercut the rates of other training providers but we feel strongly about uplifting industry skills even at the very low level of small R290 systems. Part of our development plant is to build a life size ammonia training plant in our adjacent empty building. With an ammonia plant, Raetech will offer hands-on training in all commercially used natural refrigerants.”