By Jaco Pieterse

At the onset of my term as incoming president of SAIRAC, we find the world in the midst of the turmoil created by the Covid-19 pandemic! This historical event will, without doubt, have challenging consequences on both SAIRAC and our industry, this will be a time to contemplate SAIRAC’s way forward.

In response to the situation and the consequences to our membership, the South African Institute of Refrigeration and Airconditioning (SAIRAC) national council has decided to have a zero increase for our membership fees in order to ease the burden on our members.

Currently, all our regional centre and national council meetings as well as our enrichment courses and technical talks are being hosted via the Zoom platform. This will continue until all provincial travelling and lockdown restrictions have been lifted. We will, for the remainder of 2020 have four more national technical talks presented by industry and professionals.

Looking to the future, after consulting with industry and organisers the Frigair Expo was postponed from June 2021 to June 2022. It was felt that the expo will not be viable under the current circumstances. For the 2022 Frigair Expo, I wish to expand conference aspects of the expo with regards to the interaction and liaison with ASHRAE, SHECCO, AREA and other similar international organisations. This will serve to increase both the quality and diversification of the conference attached to the expo.

The Dreosti Memorial Lecture will also be moved to 2023. Details are still to be finalised however once the topic and chosen speaker has accepted our invitation I will announce the event to the members and industry.

As per our history, “On 17 July 1951, the South African Institute of Refrigeration was founded at a meeting of refrigeration engineers and food scientists held at the Bordeaux Hotel in Cape Town”. In 2021 SAIRAC will celebrate our 70th year of existence, and Interact Media Defined has offered to publish a special 70th Platinum issue, celebrating the anniversary. The council members are busy planning for our celebrations in the centres.

I have established a national educational portfolio to represent SAIRAC on various educational platforms as well as to oversee SAIRAC’s enrichment courses. The portfolio will be chaired by the national treasurer Mr Grant Laidlaw, reporting back to council.

Amongst the various aspects the educational portfolio will be overseeing SAIRAC’s involvement with the RAC Pilot Project implemented by the Western Cape Government and the Bavarian Government and being inaugurated on 16 September 2020.

We are furthermore updating the present SAIRAC enrichment courses in a standardised format to be presented at all the centres by industry professionals. This will serve to maintain quality of the training on a national basis. I am pleased to say that SAIRAC courses result in one CPD point to our ECSA members for competently completing a ten hour course.

On matters around administration: we have a newly developed website which will be updated continually. The website will serve as a focal point for information to our members and committees. Some of SAIRAC’s history is gradually being lost and the website will be used to maintain our history as well as move us into the future.

Amongst the many documents, processes and procedures I will update the SAIRAC awards list to honour our industry members for their contribution to SAIRAC, the industry and the country. I will ask that our members will nominate potential award recipients for their contributions to be approved by council.

Our national treasurer and I will visit all four of the centres to complete the implementation of the SAGE Accounting packages and to ensure the standardisation of all the centre operational procedures to further our professionalism to our members.

A special welcome to my Council members steering the four Centres: JHB – Mr Robert Fox, DN – Mr Neeraj Ramkissoon, PE – Mr Craig Hendricks, and CT – Mr Archie Steyn as well as our National Secretary – Ms Marlene Gamble, National Treasury – Mr Grant Laidlaw and our National Bookkeeper – Ms Moira Fullard. I do look forward to working with you all as we are a strong, industry-passionate and driven team, which can only achieve greatness!

A difficult twelve months lies ahead, but having said that, my drive will be to strengthen the regional committees to achieve the one thousand paying members mark by the end of my term as well as to involve more students and younger members in our industry, and SAIRAC.

SAIRAC has acheived much over the last seventy years, and moving forward will achieve much more. As we say, “Lets build a future.”