Month: February 2022

We Need More Awareness

The South African Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Contractors Association (SARACCA) was approached by a member based in Kimberley, Northern Cape. SARACCA felt that it would benefit others to share contents of this member’s letter as it offers a current, insightful perspective on refrigeration and air conditioning in South Africa from a well-respected industry insider.

The member, with many years of industry experience, is an authorised inspector and designer of refrigeration and air conditioning installations as well as qualified to work with refrigerant gases. They were contacted by an individual who wanted to find out more about who SARACCA and the South African Qualification and Certification Committee for Gas (SAQCC Gas) are. Our member noted in their letter that this individual is a Department of Employment & Labour inspector. It is certainly beneficial for government inspectors, who are responsible for regulating Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) matters in all industries, to be aware of crucial bodies like SARACCA and SAQCC Gas. These associations are tasked with the registering of refrigeration and air conditioning practitioners and ensuring compliance according to the “Pressure Equipment Regulations” as part of the OHS Act.

SARACCA saw this as an opportunity to bring to light that we need more awareness of this regulatory infrastructure in to the public. It is important for the public to understand and for registered gas practitioners to inform them of how these bodies directly impact them.

Registered practitioners are obligated to issue a Certificate of Conformity (CoC) on completion of installation or maintenance in the prescribed format on the SAQCC Gas App. CoC’s are there to protect everyone. They ensure that all refrigeration and air conditioning maintenance/installation associated with refrigerant gas is done competently and safely, protecting practitioners and those using these products containing high pressure and sometimes even dangerous gases. In the event of a product causing damage to property, insurance companies require CoC’s to pay out claims.  In the last year, there have unfortunately been accidents and even a death of a technician. This was all because safety regulations and procedures were ignored, and the gas practitioner was unauthorised. Awareness can drastically limit loss of lives and property damage.

SARACCA saw this as an opportunity to bring to light that we need more awareness of this regulatory infrastructure in to the public. It is important for the public to understand and for registered gas practitioners to inform them of how these bodies directly impact them.

The public can ensure their own safety by always requesting a gas practitioner’s unique number registration card, category of registration as well as the practitioner’s photo. All these details are recorded on the SAQCC Gas website which can be verified by a simple search. Registered gas practitioners can boost public awareness by informing their clients to follow this approach with any gas-related service or product.

Green Logistic Solutions in South Africa

Vehicles are major contributors to pollution as petrol and diesel emissions produce harmful greenhouse gases. In a mere 8 years’ time, an estimated 127 million vehicles will be produced globally. By 2035, the total number of vehicles could be 2 billion! There is no stopping the essential need for transportation. But a change must be made to alternative fuels that minimise and even eradicate further environmental harm. Why start now? Studies have shown that traditional vehicle fuel consumption, like diesel exhaust, negatively impact pollination. Without it, humans and the earth’s ecosystems would cease to exist. Of the 1400 crop plants grown worldwide, i.e. those that produce all of our food and plant-based industrial products, almost 80% require pollination.

South Africa has set a development plan for 2030 to diversify the energy mix and reduce carbon emissions. Therefore, many companies are having to be more transparent about their carbon transmissions and take environmental recommendations on board. This is especially true for the logistics industry where there is an urgent need to reduce or remove emissions of carbon dioxide and/or other greenhouse gases made by fleets in order to compensate for emissions made elsewhere. To accomplish this, fleets need to be environmentally optimised by tapping into an energy mix that minimises the use of traditional combustion engines which run on petrol and diesel.

While electric vehicles are gaining popularity worldwide, they are usually better suited to personal use rather than commercial fleets. Another green energy solution especially suited to large-scale fleets is natural gas. Natural gas consists mostly of methane and is drawn from gas wells or pockets underground. While used in industrial and domestic settings, Compressed Natural Gas is an alternate fuel for vehicles. Natural Gas Vehicles (NGVs) do not contribute significantly to pollution and smog, because they emit low levels of nitrogen oxides, and virtually no particulate matter (droplets of metals, acids, soil, and dust) into the air. For this reason, NGVs can be used to help combat air pollution in areas where air quality is poor, which is an issue in cities worldwide. Shifting to cleaner alternatives like natural gas fleets could successfully reduce smog production in urban centres where it is needed most and result in clearer, healthier air.

Siyakhulisa Logistics believes that sustainable energy choices need to be made in order to achieve a greener South Africa.

SA Government’s “Tight Rope” Viewpoint on TES

Although South Africa is a country more industrialised than any of its fellow African counterparts, it nevertheless currently possesses record-high unemployment rates. According to Trading Economics, South Africa’s 2021 third quarter 34.90% unemployment rate is the “highest jobless rate since comparable data began in 2008.”

It is a tough juggling act between offering employment opportunities, promoting fair employment and protecting the rights of employees all in one through comprehensive legislation. The South African government responded by establishing policies to regulate all employment such as the Labour Relations Amendment Act (LRAA) and the Employment Services Act (ESA).

In 2000, government mandated studies were conducted to examine the last 20 years of the South African labour market. The data revealed that there had been a great shift towards casualised labour. This distinct pattern in the labour market had been picked up and utilised by the Temporary Employment Services (TES). But what is the government’s perspective of the industry? “The truth is, as an employer, the government needs the TES industry to function,” says Kevin Cowley, who has almost two decades of experience in the industry and is also Human Resources Director at Primeserv Group. He goes on further to say that at least 40% of government employees come from the TES companies. It makes sense then that industry players were involved from 2000-2014 in the negotiations with the National Economic Development and Labour Council (Nedlac) whose task is to seek cooperation between government, labour, business and community organisations. This resulted in an updated LRA which came into effect in April 2015. As a whole it needed to reflect the changing times and largely casual labour market, it also included specific regulation of fixed term contracting.

The truth is, as an employer, the government needs the TES industry to function.”

Kevin Cowley

“That divided the wheat from the chaff. It bolstered what the TESD had been driving for years,” says Cowley. The Temporary Employment Services Division (TESD) was established in 1994 as the Labour Broking Division, which assures compliance and credibility of its members. Cowley added that for years the government has had to walk a tightrope on their perspective of TES. “Government knows they cannot promise permanent employment.” On one hand, they are major employers that support the industry, making TES critical to the economy. On the other hand, Cowley highlighted that the government has to pacify strong trade unionism in the country, which historically had much influence over the labour market.

Would you like to know more about the TESD? Visit the site www.tesd.org.za

Standards in Pricing

Competitive pricing has evolved. As more players enter the market, businesses are subjected to cost and time pressures in order to beat the competition. Additionally, the economic fallout of a global pandemic includes sharp price drops, excess capacity, and heightened price sensitivity which ultimately destroys value. The risk now lies in becoming too aggressive in pricing, resulting in little returns compromised on the quality of installations.

How can you eliminate pricing risk and still maintain the competitive edge? The answer is to give equal attention to quality, project management and pricing. While appearing to a simplistic approach, businesses that offer reliable, quality service and good value are always in high demand. On the other hand, companies that offer cheap pricing but skimp on quality suffer from short-term profit and long-term decline.

It’s an age-old lesson that too many of us choose to ignore. Although sacrificing quality for pricing may grant you some quick profits, you’ll quickly run out of steam when clients fail to return. Favouring quality over pricing will increase your company’s reputation and product loyalty, which will keep your business sustainable.

What is the solution to the risk?

Become aware of regulations and remain steadfast in offering quality installations, even if this is at an increased price. Sacrificing installation quality merely to outbid your competitor is not only dangerous for your client but for your business reputation and sustainability.

SARACCA (South African Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Contractors Association) believes that the focus on quality is essential. It is up to the client and consulting engineer to select HVAC companies based on the scope of work required as opposed to costs alone.

Will clients pay more for better quality?

Absolutely, but the client needs to be made aware of the pricing shortfalls. Making the risks that are involved in working with high pressures and certain gases clear will discourage a client to choose cheap over safety. Communication with your client is essential to ensure that they prioritise the quality installation. SARACCA membership selection is based on quality, reputation and value of work. Now is the time to focus on quality, while remaining realistically competitive. It is not worth the profit (if any) to work on projects where standards have been sidelined for cost.

Members of SARACCA are informed on a regular basis on quality standards, as well as new laws and regulations governing the industry. It is vital for all HVAC practitioners to be registered with SAQCC Gas, a benefit of SARACCA membership, and attend informative meetings.

Forbes Business Council recently posted their top 12 pricing strategies recommended by a panel of experts made up of successful entrepreneurs and business leaders. One technique emphasised value-based pricing as opposed to cost-based as critically important for long-term success. Becoming skilled at quoting while remaining competitive is a tool all HVAC practitioners need to build their reputation and remain in business.

View the full article here (shorturl.at/bdwDX). Visit www.saracca.co.za for details on membership benefits and joining forms.

Why Become and Stay an Authorised Gas Practitioner?

Joining the SAQCC’s official database, which displays details of registered and authorised gas practitioners who work with a variety of gasses and gas systems, protects the South African public from unqualified practitioners carrying out unsafe gas work. As a consumer, a registered practitioner gives you peace of mind—knowing that they are competent and legally permitted to work safely with gas.

Whatever gas product is being worked on; safety must always come first. Kevin Crawford, a Technical Trainer for Refrigerant Gases at the South African Sugar Association, emphasised; “it’s not just your life, it’s also others’ lives around you too.” Safety is crucial as carbon monoxide poisoning, faulty gas systems and installations which kill many people each year. Clearly, there are huge risks involved and an incredibly small room for error when lives are at stake. Having an authorised gas practitioner greatly diminishes the chances of incompetence. “Understanding your product and being properly qualified to handle your product” means that you are fully aware of the high risks associated with gas work, according to ACS Gas and Water’s Technical Manager, Andre Strauss.

By respecting your own life and those around you, registering and staying authorised is promoting the value of life, not only within the gas industry but in our communities too!

From a gas practitioner’s perspective, being registered is also great for business. A multitude of potential customers access SAQCC’s online database looking for trustworthy service providers. Strauss says that newcomers in the gas industry need to find a mentor to guide them in acquiring the proper knowledge, skills and accreditation. Gas practitioners who want a future in the industry need to back up their service with credibility. “There are numerous groups on social media that you can tap into and ask your questions,” Strauss says. There is support and a real sense of comradery. “We all need to achieve one goal and make sure that it works for everybody and that everyone is on the same wavelength—working with the same regulations, creating a uniform standard.” Becoming and staying registered keeps gas practitioners well informed and enables them to maintain sound practice.

By respecting your own life and those around you, registering and staying authorised is promoting the value of life, not only within the gas industry but in our communities too! Crawford highlighted the additional motivation of protecting the environment: practitioners who are authorised and therefore trained to work with gas do so responsibly, such as not unnecessarily releasing gases into the atmosphere that contribute to the greenhouse gas effect.

Registered gas practitioners uphold the foremost concern in the industry: safety for everyone involved. Promoting respect for life positively affects our community. Additionally, authorised practitioners have a network of support from the associations and fellow professionals as well as knowing their good practice is not harming the environment.