A Breath of Fresh Air – Necessity, Not Luxury

Picture yourself in a building with minimal windows, vents, doors, and other openings. There is no movement at all in the stale and dense air. Feeling uncomfortable yet? While some may say you could endure this environment at home, work or in public spaces, this is not simply a bit of discomfort. It is a serious health issue for the occupants in any building.

The heating, ventilating, heating and air-conditioning (HVAC) system of a building ensures the supply and removal of air naturally (windows) and/or mechanically to and from a space. HVAC systems are crucial to the health of building occupants in residential, commercial and industrial buildings. These systems provide a comfortable temperature, humidity level and optimal air quality that is free from air pollutants. Air pollutants such as carbon monoxide, lead, nitrogen oxides, ground-level ozone, particle pollution and sulphur oxides can severely affect an occupant’s health and in serious incidents may result in death.

The Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) Act is one area of regulation which encourages South African employers to have HVAC systems installed on their premises which adequately protect employees and customers. For instance, an employer may not require or permit an employee to work in an environment where he or she is exposed to a minimum temperature of 6°C for longer than four hours, unless the employer takes reasonable measures to protect the employee against the cold. In the same vein, a person may not work in excessively high temperatures without proper air movement of fresh filtered air.

How can you make sure you are looking after the health of yourself and others when it comes to HVAC in your spaces? The South African Refrigeration & Air Conditioning Association’s (SARACCA) members can provide you with HVAC expertise. SARACCA upholds The National Building Regulations which specify minimum fresh air standards for various spaces, dependent on activity and occupation levels. It is also tasked with registering refrigeration and air conditioning practitioners on the SAQCC Gas register. For ultimate peace of mind of your and others wellbeing, ensure that your HVAC systems are being worked on by authorised persons. Simply go online and search the practitioners’ details on www.saqccgas.co.za or to see their membership card.

How can you make sure you are looking after the health of yourself and others when it comes to HVAC in your spaces?

If you are an HVAC practitioner, join our family today! Benefit from regular communication, invaluable industry support and be kept in the loop with the latest industry standards and regulations. Keep providing high-quality and compliant services to your client by utilising SARACCA’s authorised training providers. SARACCA provides a subsidy to members for the training of site staff in duct erection, refrigeration, air conditioning, project management via short courses that follow SAQA approved unit standards. SARACCA strives to keep SA healthy and safe by constantly making positive contributions to the HVAC industry’s reputation and standards.

Supporting Ground-breaking Green Initiatives with HVAC Expertise

Global fossil fuel supply and cost remains volatile as the Russian invasion of Ukraine persists. Worldwide supply chains and inflation have been thrown into chaos. These circumstances are adding further pressure on the major sectors, which have the largest influence on global warming, to meet net-zero carbon emissions commitments. Buildings and cities, energy, transport, agriculture and industry sectors produce a combined massive 30.9 gigatonnes of greenhouse gas emissions annually, according to the United Nations Environment Programme’s (UNEP’s) 2020 edition of the Emissions Gap Report. Ultimately, there is an urgent need and great opportunity to develop greener technology.

In line with this, an impressive advancement in South African green initiatives is the South African Refrigeration & Air Conditioning Association’s (SARACCA’s) focus in this latest case study. Fifty-Two Engineering, members of SARACCA, recently completed a ventilation project for Anglo American. Mogalakwena platinum mine, located in Limpopo, South Africa, recently added a hydrogen production, storage, and refuelling complex on site to support their addition of a 2MW hydrogen-battery hybrid truck which is of Anglo American’s nuGen™ Zero Emission Haulage Solution (ZEHS). It is currently the world’s largest hydrogen-powered mine haul truck! As HVAC specialists, the Fifty-Two Engineering team were appointed to design ventilation systems in the plant where the hydrogen is produced, stored and used for fuelling.

The HVAC objective for this project was to create a ventilation system with an integrated monitoring and warning system for the plant to operate continuously and safely.

Hydrogen is a greener alternative to fossil fuels that needs responsible handling due to its flammability when mixed with air. It is crucial to not only avoid leaks but ensure there is an instant plant shutdown in a potentially hazardous situation. The HVAC objective for this project was to create a ventilation system with an integrated monitoring and warning system for the plant to operate continuously and safely. “We designed a system that keeps the environment clean and forces filtered air into the electrolyser building where the hydrogen is produced and stored,” says David Townley at Fifty-Two Engineering. This building required 6 fan filter units where five run simultaneously to achieve the 12 air changes per hour (ACH). Each unit is fitted with a flow-pressure switch to monitor whether the fan is running. Should it be activated on a running unit, indicating a breakdown, the standby unit is activated, and an alarm will be raised at the HVAC panel in the main control room. Thereby maintaining optimum gas safety in the plant at all times and keeping the chain of production moving.

SARACCA is proud to support their members who are playing their part in a zero emissions future. The fact is that renewables are the way forward, and this hydrogen plant ventilation project is just one example of our industry striving for ambitious targets and spring boarding green development within South Africa. By becoming a SARACCA member, you too can have access to the latest information and training on greener, newer technologies.

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.