Grant Laidlaw, SAIRAC president, delivering his presidential report at the AGM in August.

It gives me great pleasure to report on the activities of the National Council during the period July 2016 to June 2017.

A moment of silence

Sadly, during the past year, the following members passed away. May they long be remembered for their contribution towards our industry and institute:

  • 1958 PR van Duyn (JHB)
  • 2788 IAM Johnstone (CT)
  • 116 JPJ Trautmann (CT) (honorary life vice-president)
  • 388 WP Brand (CT)
  • 389 JH Shepard (CT)
  • 687 PD Gould (PE)
  • 1603 AB Chapman (KZN)

Council meetings

The 65th national AGM was held on 26 August 2016 in Durban, where the incoming National Council was inaugurated.

Quarterly National Council meetings were held as follows:

  • 26 August 2016 in Durban
  • 11 November 2016 in Johannesburg
  • 10 February 2017 in Johannesburg
  • 26 May 2017 in Johannesburg


Member type 30 June 2017 figures Movement from 2016
Student 1 0
Associate 255 0
Associate member 294 10
Member 432 0
Fellow 56 -4
Total 1 038 6


The geographic distribution of the above membership is:

            Cape Town: 25%

            Johannesburg: 47%

            Durban: 16%

            Port Elizabeth: 11%

            Foreign: 1%

SAIRAC attracted 107 new members, but the impact on membership growth was diluted by the loss of 101 members, mainly due to the non-payment of fees and resignations.

SAIRAC membership remains a small percentage of the total number of persons active in the air-conditioning, heating, ventilation, and refrigeration sector in South Africa. 

Our challenge therefore remains to increase our membership so as to be more representative.

The percentage of women in our membership remains low, but it is encouraging to report that although few in numbers, they are strong supporters of Centre events. 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 SAIRAC will endeavour to increase student numbers in the upcoming year.


Interact Media Defined currently manages the SAIRAC website. Advertising on our website has been made available to companies.

We currently have over 3 000 visitors per month viewing our website. Around 35% of these are from the international community. The US and UK form a large portion of the international visits. Having said that, we have visitors from Turkey, the Ukraine, Russia, India, and various countries from the African continent.

This represents good news but also highlights the need for professionalism and growth in our Institute.

Another interesting statistic is that the average time spent on our website is around three minutes. This indicates that people are interrogating the site in detail, again good news.

The new payment system is being implemented to allow members to pay annual membership fees, purchase items such as the technical data CD, or pay for training courses or social events via the website. This system will automatically make payment to the correct bank account and provide the required allocation. Payments via the website will drastically cut back on administration and the time presently being wasted on correcting payments made to the incorrect bank account or tracing EFT payments made without any reference. Having said that, the implementation has been challenging and the system needs some fine-tuning.

A new member area will be added to the site in the upcoming year; this will allow members access to talks, papers, and presentations. This will also serve as a promotional tool for SAIRAC.


The next FRIGAIR exhibition will take place from 6 to 8 June 2018 at Gallagher Convention Center, Midrand.

At this point, from an exhibitor’s perspective, the venue is tentatively booked at around 90%. The previous expo had very positive feedback and had a record attendance; we are hoping to build on this number.

Plans are in place to invite three ASHRAE speakers and four local speakers to present talks on a variety of industry-related subjects.

SAIRAC will hold a breakfast function at the venue for dignitaries, exhibitors, and members. The breakfast is to be held at the venue on 7 June 2018. Invitations will be sent out with final details.

FRIGAIR exhibitions are set to take place every three years in Johannesburg, Durban and Cape Town, to alternate with the FRIGAIR conferences to also take place every three years.

The names FRIGAIR Exhibition (Expo) and FRIGAIR Conference, as well as the SAIRAC name and logo were registered as trademarks in the past year.

Public relations and awards

National Council awarded a Meritorious Award to Nigel Amschwand from Cape Town.

The Best Student Award was awarded to Tyrone Bunce. Bunce is the winner of the National Skills Competition (Refrigeration) and will represent South Africa at Abu Dhabi this year in the International Skills Competition. We wish him all the best.

The SAIRAC clip (video) is available via the website to all members for a wider use, to encourage newcomers to follow a career in the HERVAC sector. The viewing of the video at schools, technical colleges, and institutions, continues to generate keen interest in our industry. Centres are reminded to view the CD at events, including schools and colleges in their area, on a regular basis, to attract young people to a career in our industry.

RACA Journal

Thanks and acknowledgement goes to the publisher of the RACA Journal. The Council is also appreciative of the monthly royalty that is well applied towards meeting the operating expenses of the Council.

Members are encouraged to send newsworthy items to the publisher, as this adds value to the journal. The journal is an effective way to communicate newsworthy items and is well received by our members.

A digital copy of the journal is available by registration on the website, as the distribution via the South African postal services has become unreliable.

Electronic media

SAIRAC has a Facebook page that is in use. Committees and Interact Media Defined regularly update the page, adding relevant content. Members are encouraged to use the page and post items of interest.


The national governance of SAIRAC remains reliant on the voluntary services and dedication of Council members. We cannot rely on members to run all of the facets of our Institute. The rightful role of SAIRAC in dealing with legislators, government departments, international associations, South African National Standards (SANS), and industry role players on all matters relating to HERVAC, requires the employment of more permanent staff, as committee members do not have the time that the day to day running of the Institute requires.

"The year ahead is set to present new challenges as we reassess the role of SAIRAC and the services it provides to members in a rapidly changing industry and economy."

The pace of changes taking place in technology and the many challenges facing our industry warrant the upgrade of the Centre secretarial and national treasury functions to a more permanent position.

On a regional level, we wish to encourage more active participation by members with regard to committees.

Centre activities

Each Centre continues with a diverse programme of technical meetings, enrichment courses, and social events. Technical meetings that address issues around new-generation refrigerants and changes in industry legislation have attracted high attendance numbers. Centres are encouraged to continue with SAIRAC’s important role of keeping its members and the industry informed of technological and regulatory changes.

Centres offer enrichment training courses, which is well supported by industry. Continual professional development (CPD) points are attainable for most of these courses.

The following courses were offered for the 2016/17 period:


  • August/September 2016: Advanced Psychrometrics, presented by Jannie Potgieter.
  • October/November 2016: Basics of Air Conditioning, presented by Charel Marais.
  • February 2017: Psychrometrics, presented by Jannie Potgieter.
  • May 2017: Load estimation for Refrigeration Applications, presented by Robert Fox.
  • June 2017: BMS controls, presented by Ian Wilson.

Cape Town

  • June/July 2017: Pyschrometrics, presented by Erik Kiderlen.


  • Refrigeration Explained, presented by R Cadman.

Council members

Few words can express the heartfelt thanks for the support and time-consuming efforts by the members who have served on National Council during the past year. There are always those that go the extra mile and give far more than just merely attending Council meetings. Without their input, SAIRAC would struggle to survive in the present economy.

The administrative support by our national secretary, Marlene Gamble, has once again played an important role towards arranging Council meetings, making travel arrangements, processing of new memberships, and keeping abreast with the many changes in members’ personal data. On behalf of all our members, a sincere thank you to Marlene.

Moving forward

Although we already have a busy year ahead, some forward planning will be in order. As our Institute grows, so too do the demands. These will have to be determined and met.

I feel that 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. Our objectives are:

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

Do we meet these objectives? Perhaps some more than others. Now is the time to strategise and to map out our Institute’s future.

The year ahead is set to present new challenges as we reassess 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.


In conclusion, my thanks go to our members, the National Council, and the Centre committees. Their effort and dedication are crucial to the operation of our Institute. We need not only more members, but new blood on the committees. Together we will carry SAIRAC to new horizons.


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