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The annual general meeting (AGM) of the South African Institute of Refrigeration and Air Conditioning (SAIRAC) took place in Port Elizabeth this year and featured a very interesting talk by Peter Myles, after the formalities were finished.

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The SAIRAC AGM took place at the Beach Hotel in Port Elizabeth this year.

Every year the national AGM takes place at a different SAIRAC centre and this year it was once again Port Elizabeth’s turn to host the national council alongside its own regional AGM. The event(s) took place on 23 August at the Beach Hotel, where the national council would also meet the next day for their official council meeting.

PE centre AGM

The PE AGM took place first under the guidance of its chairman Deon Schmidt, who formally welcomed everyone to this centre’s 59th AGM. He reported on the centre’s activities throughout the year, looking at membership, technical talks and social events.

This year the centre included some exciting new events like a fellow’s lunch, 10-pin bowling and a Christmas in July social too. He spoke about the training courses and the site visits and encouraged everyone to visit the SAIRAC website.

He concluded by thanking both his committee and the regional centre’s members for their support (and efforts) throughout the year.

Next up was Wayne du Randt, who reported on behalf of his wife, Sue du Randt, who is the treasurer of the committee (but was absent due to illness), on the finances for the past year.

The new committee was announced before officially concluding the PE AGM and handing over to the national committee.

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Outgoing SAIRAC president, Grant Laidlaw, delivering his president’s report.

National AGM

The national AGM was handled by outgoing president, Grant Laidlaw, who started things off with a moment of silence for the members that have passed away this year.

Laidlaw then delivered his official report. "I am pleased to report that in general SAIRAC has had a good year with improved membership statistics, a good number of well attended quality training interventions, well attended quality social functions, a very good FRIGAIR Expo and increased levels of interaction with government and international organisations,” he said.

He noted that student members went up and that the centre currently has 1 068 members across the country, the majority being in Johannesburg. In total, the association has attracted 137 new members during the year.

SAIRAC membership remains a small percentage of the total number of persons active in the HVAC&R sector in South Africa, said Laidlaw. “Our challenge therefore remains to increase our membership so as to be more representative.”

“The percentage of women in our membership remains low and it is encouraging to report that although few in numbers, they are strong supporters of centre events,” Laidlaw reported. “With more female speakers addressing centre meetings, it is hoped that our Institute will encourage more to become members and play an active role in the management of SAIRAC.”

The low number of student members is cause for concern and according to Laidlaw, SAIRAC will endeavour to increase student numbers in the upcoming year. 

He also reported on the website, saying that it’s doing very well (with visitors from all over the world stopping by) and spent some time giving feedback on the successful FRIGAIR Expo that happened in June. Visitors were up by 2% and SAIRAC, as owners of the expo, also received money in royalties from the event.

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Outgoing SAIRAC president Grant Laidlaw (right) hands over a tie to incoming president, Marius La Grange.

Laidlaw also encouraged members to send news to the RACA Journal. “The journal is an effective way to communicate news worthy items and is well received by our members,” he said.

He spoke about social media and the various centre activities, as well as looking at matters of administration. He announced the incoming national committee.

Laidlaw announced that the association is planning a Dreosti Memorial lecture for 2019. “Plans are in place in invite Dr Volkmar Hasse for 2019 for a talk on natural refrigerants. This is a prestigious event held every three years brining international expertise into South Africa. Presentations will be arranged at all SAIRAC centres.”

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SAIRAC’s incoming president Marius La Grange says a few words.

He also took the opportunity to formally congratulate AHRAE and the newly formed South African ASHRAE chapter under the leadership of the new South African ASHRAE chapter president, Richard Humphrey. “We are pleased to say that SAIRAC and ASHRAE will be working closer together in the future with particular focus on educational activities.”

He also spoke about planning for the future. “As our institute grows so to do the demands. These will have to be determined and met. In moving forward we need to perhaps stop for a moment and look back. In so doing we need to review and update our objectives.”

He mentioned the following objectives:

  1. To advance and protect the art and sciences of refrigeration, air conditioning and allied arts and sciences.
  1. To encourage scientific research and the study of principles and methods in the art and sciences of refrigeration, air conditioning and allied arts and sciences.
  1. To promote the unrestricted dissemination of knowledge amongst members.
  1. To assist in educational activities and to encourage the adoption and maintenance of high standards of instruction in technical and professional training.
  1. To co-operate with government agencies, universities, collages, schools and other organisations with similar objectives and purpose.
  1. To procure and maintain the professional status of our engineers and technicians.

“Now is once again the time to strategise and to map out our institutes future,” said Laidlaw. “The year ahead is set to present new challenges as we re-assess the role of SAIRAC and the services it provides to members in a rapidly changing industry and economy. We have new dynamic committee members for the upcoming year who I am confident will rise up and meet these challenges.”

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The guest speaker for the evening was Peter Myles who spoke about the possibility of Africa’s ocean’s economy.

His report was concluded by officially thanking all members and committee members, calling for new blood on the committees to carry SAIRAC to new horizons.

He then called up outgoing treasurer, John Ackermann for the official national treasurer’s report. Ackermann was as always full of jokes and reported that the association’s funds are in good health.

Afterwards, Laidlaw officially handed over a tie to Marius La Grange, the new SAIRAC national president. La Grange then took to the podium to announce the new national committee (vice president’s position still vacant).

Laidlaw also said a few words in honour of Ackermann, who has served SAIRAC for more than two decades and was officially retiring his duties and stepping down from the association as a whole. Laidlaw will resume the position of national treasurer going forward.

After concluding the AGM formalities, the guest speaker was introduced.

The ‘blue’ economy

The speaker for the night was Peter Myles, an international tourism consultant with a Master’s degree in tourism development and management. After hosting the 6th International Coastal and Marine Tourism Congress in Port Elizabeth, Myles was appointed to the steering committee that founded the International Coastal and Marine Tourism Society. He is the author of a book entitled Maritime Clusters and the Ocean Economy: An Integrated Approach to Managing Coastal and Marine Space and is the current chairperson of the Nelson Mandela Bay Maritime Cluster.

His topic for the night was ‘Challenges and opportunities for business in a blue green world’, looking at oceans as the final frontier for humankind. He offered a simplified look at the ‘blue economy’ and the value of the ocean economy.

Myles’s presentation looked at Africa’s oceans and their potential in terms of the African maritime development agenda and the UN’s sustainability goals. He then went into more detail regarding South Africa’s ocean economy and its potential.

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SAIRAC Port Elizabeth centre chairman, Deon Schmidt handled the regional AGM that preceded the national one.

He covered issues such as pollution and the fact that the oceans are getting busier than ever, before moving onto more innovative solutions such as the potential for floating ports and underwater restaurants.

He looked at ‘green’ economies and some interesting architectural concepts for hotels that blend in with nature.

The following slides covered the economic impact of the oceans and the concept of a maritime cluster, before concluding with a look at proposed aerotropolis developments (airport cities).

After the presentation, everyone enjoyed a buffet dinner while catching up with friends old and new.

To download Peter Myles’s full presentation here

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