By Benjamin Brits

Members from around Gauteng came together for a tour through the recently expanded Dr Oetker facility, with a focus on the newly installed plant.

The Dr Oetker facility expansion, in Selby, Johannesburg, was completed towards the end of 2020 and comprises a three-stage ammonia system supplied by Energy Partners (EP).

Robert Fox, Johannesburg chairman, welcomed members, offering thanks to Dr Oetker for allowing the site visit under the stresses of the current pandemic and all related protocols.

Tebogo Mphepya, group engineering manager for Dr Oetker South Africa then offered a brief history of the company and the types of products produced at the facility, which includes a range from spice powders to complete restaurant-quality frozen pizzas which go through certain pre-baking and then are frozen within a short time frame with large temperature differentials (+80°C from production to frozen).

In 2010, Dr Oetker, an originally German family enterprise, came to South Africa and acquired the well-established businesses of Ital Pizza – known as South Africa’s favourite frozen pizza at the time.

In that same year, the now world famous Ristorante thin-crust frozen pizza was launched in South Africa. Dr Oetker’s business activities are actively being managed in over 40 countries around the world today.

Mphepya then handed over to the Energy Partners engineering team of Bob Vuletic, Lauren Groenewald and Pieter van den Heever who were there to answer any questions members had as they progressed through the site tour areas.

Vuletic, as the lead engineer in the project, continued the tour by providing an overview of the plant expansion and the logic behind the three-stage cooling system which was installed. He also described that this particular project made use of the Cooling as a Service model (CaaS) whereby the client (Dr Oetker) would pay a monthly ‘utility fee’ for their cooling needs, while committing to a service agreement for a pre-determined number of years without the requirement of investing in a large capital cost up front.


Energy Partners as the ‘service provider’ would then own and maintain the plant over this time, ensuring maximum efficiency. In this particular agreement (as each are a custom solution for the client), Dr Oetker could also buy the plant at any point in time where they would then take on the responsibility of any maintenance and repairs.

The new production facility was equipped with a total cooling capacity of 1671kW – split between -33°C, -9°C and 0°C suction conditions. The process also uses heat reclaim to supply a portion of the building’s hot water requirements which are stored in tanks at the roof plant area at around 60°C. The installation included supply of cooling to:

  • the process areas
  • process fluids
  • blast freezers
  • holding freezers
  • cold rooms

The group of 13 members then split into groups, led by each EP engineer, to view different areas. The small groups were shown around various elements of the installation, including valve stations, pipe work to the various processing areas, the cooling pods, rooftop plant and main plant room that also includes the electrical control room and remote control station that allows technicians to monitor the plant from any location in the country.

Closing off the tour, Fox then thanked members for attending and again thanked the hosts for their participation. Vuletic also welcomed any further questions around the installation or plant design.

Should you wish to participate in future site visits, please see regular updates from SAIRAC. Spots on these tours are very limited.