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Killer chillers for banana ripeners

The Banana Ripening Centre provides a critical service to farmers, acting as a staging facility and platform for banana sales.

The Tshwane Fresh Produce Market sells on average about R15 million in produce every day. Banana sales account for 11% of this figure. About 1.3 million kilograms of bananas are processed weekly by the state of the art banana ripening facility at the market. This facility is responsible for distribution of bananas to sales outlets nationally and in Africa. To drive this process reliably, the Centre selected Johnson Controls’ YORK YVWA chillers.

Says Francois Knowles, Deputy Director: Commercial Services at the Centre: “The Banana Ripening Centre provides a critical service to farmers, acting as a staging facility and platform for banana sales. Our highest priority is ensuring 24×7 uninterrupted service. Maintaining a constantly chilled environment to ensure staged ripening of the fruit is crucial. With growing volumes of produce moving through the market—turnover reached R3 billion in the 2016/17 financial year—this contributed to the need to upgrade our aging banana cooling equipment.

“We chose the Johnson Controls York YVWA chillers for their reliability, ease of control, as well as their potential to drive operational savings.”

The ripening process

The Banana Ripening Centre is performance driven. Acquired from the Banana Board in 1994 by the Tshwane Municipality, it contributes 11 percent of the total output of the Tshwane Market, playing an important role in the agricultural value chain.

Explains Knowles: “We source bananas from across South Africa and Africa, reaching as far as Zimbabwe and Mozambique. The bananas arrive green, are palletised and stored in one of our 55 ripening chambers. Market agents at the market act on behalf of the farmers, securing sales from wholesalers and retailers. Collection and distribution of the bananas are synchronised with our six-day ripening process, ensuring the produce reaches its destination at the right level of ripeness for optimal retail sales.”

The ripening process relies on three factors:

  • Keeping the temperature at 13 to 14 degrees C.
  • Ensuring the correct air flow or circulation through the ripening chambers.
  • The release of ethylene gas at the right time to initiate the ripening process.

Each ripening chamber can accommodate thirty pallets to be ripened. Sensors in the chambers constantly measure environmental temperature and communicate with the chillers, driving outputs to keep the chambers at the right temperature. A fan coil unit at the back of the facility circulates cool air through the chamber. The ripening process takes place over six days.

The chillers

Two York water-cooled screw type YVWA chillers with variable speed drives (VSDs) were selected to replace the four chillers at the Centre that have reached end of life. “These chillers will help meet the Centre’s strategic goals of reliability and enhancing control of the environment to drive service excellence. The VSDs will also help lower energy costs, driving down operating costs,” notes Russell Hattingh, Engineering Manager at Johnson Controls Systems and Service.

The use of VSDs on chiller compressors can cut energy use by up to 30 percent per annum while maintaining operating reliably over a wide range of conditions. “This is accomplished in two ways,” explains Hattingh. “At part load when cooling capacity can be reduced, a VSD chiller inherently uses less energy than a constant speed chiller as the compressor speed can be reduced to more closely match the load. At low-lift conditions, when ambient temperature conditions are cooler than design, even greater energy savings can be realised if a VSD is employed.”

The chillers were installed and commissioned in June 2017 by the Johnson Controls team. “The team was familiar with the Centre’s operational needs, having serviced its previous equipment, notes Hattingh, “so the implementation, which included a parallel upgrade to the Centre’s reticulation system, went smoothly. We are pleased to be able to continue providing support at the Centre.”

Future perfect

“I believe our investment in the York chillers will help gear the Centre to maintain its high level of service into the future,” says Knowles. “The Centre is closely aligned with the University of Pretoria, providing a training ground for students, but is also very focussed in setting higher standards in terms of agricultural best practices. Excellence in control and automation at the facility is an important part of achieving that.”


3D printed room-service? Visit the hotel of tomorrow

To mark its 100th birthday, Hilton predicts the trends that will change travel and hospitality in the next 100 years.

Intergalactic getaways, fast-food nutrient pills, 2-3 hour working days and adaptable, personalised rooms that can transport guests everywhere from jungles to mountain ranges. These are some of the predictions for the next 100 years that the Hilton hotel group has put together in celebration of its 100th anniversary.

In a report supported by expert insight from the fields of sustainability, innovation, design, human relations and nutrition, findings reveal the impact of the growing sophistication of technology and climate change on the hotel industry in the future.

Key predictions for the hotel of the future include:

Personalisation is King

  • Technology will allow every space, fitting and furnishing to continuously update to respond to an individual’s real-time needs – the Lobby will conjure up anything from a tranquil spa to a buzzy bar, giving every guest the perfect, personal welcome
  • From temperature and lighting, to entertainment and beyond, microchips under the skin will enable us to wirelessly control the setting around us based on what we need, whenever we need it

The Human Touch

  • In a world filled with Artificial Intelligence, human contact and the personal touch will be more critical and sought after than ever
  • Technology will free up time for hotel staff to focus on what matters most: helping guests to connect with one another and building memorable moments

‘Sustainable Everything’ – The Role of Responsibility

  • Only businesses that are inherently responsible will survive the next century
  • Sustainability will be baked into everything about a hotel’s design – from weather-proofed domes, to buildings made from ocean-dredged plastic
  • Hotels will act as the Town Hall of any community, managing local resources and contributing to the areas they serve with community-tended insect farms and vertical hydroponic crop gardens

Menu Surprises and Personalisation

  • Our diets will include more plant-based recipes and some surprising sources of protein – Beetle Bolognese, Plankton Pies and Seaweed Green Velvet Cake will be menu staples!
  • Decadent 3D-printed dinners and room service will provide unrivalled plate personalisation
  • Chefs will be provided with biometric data for each guest, automatically creating meals based on preferences and nutritional requirements

Futuristic Fitness and Digital Detoxes

  • Outswim a virtual sea turtle in the pool, or challenge yourself to climb the digital face of Mount Everest, your exercise routine will be as unique as you are. What’s more, exercise energy generated from workouts will be used to power the hotel, providing a zero-impact, circular system. Guests could even earn rewards based on reaching workout targets
  • Pick up where you left off with trackable workouts and holographic personal trainers
  • Offline will be the new luxury as we seek to find moments of tech-free time

“Since its inception in 1919, Hilton has pioneered the hospitality industry, introducing first-to-market concepts such as air-conditioning and in-room televisions. Last year, Hilton also became the first hospitality company to set science-based targets to reduce its environmental impact,” said Simon Vincent, EVP & President, EMEA, Hilton. “We enter our second century with the same commitment to innovation, harnessing the power of our people and technology to respond to guest demands. Our research paints an exciting future for the hospitality industry, highlighting the growing importance of human interaction in an increasingly tech-centric world.”

Futurologist Gerd Leonhard said: “In 2119 we will still be searching for unique experiences, but they will be more personalised than ever. As technology shapes our lives we will seek out moments of offline connection with others, including hotel team members who will help us truly get what we need from our stays. 100 years from now hotels will have to create opportunities to converse, collaborate and connect, delivering moments that matter, individually, to each and every guest.”

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Gadget ed to chair Digital Council

Specialist financial services provider Sasfin Bank has established a Digital Advisory Council to provide the market with industry-leading expertise and insights on trends shaping the use of technology in financial services.

Digitalisation is one of the most powerful forces for change shaping Finance today. This has turned Fintech into one of the most vibrant sectors in both information technology and among start-ups, generating billions of dollars in investment and development globally. The South African fintech space is dynamic, and Sasfin is playing a leading role in the transformation of local financial services and the resulting enhancement of customer experiences.

“We have been investing in fintech development in-house and acquiring or integrating fintech start-ups,” says Sasfin CEO Michael Sassoon. “Over the last year we have built further digital offerings, integrated via APIs into leading businesses and invested in fintechs. We built and launched B\\YOND, an innovative digital business banking platform and SWIP, a digital wealth and investing platform. We have invested in Payabill, an online SME lender and DMA, a digital trading platform. We recently announced our alliance banking relationship, leveraging open banking, with Hello Paisa to offer seamless banking to the unbanked. We feel that there is a huge opportunity to improve the experience of South African businesses and savers through using technology. We have therefore created an independent forum to assess how to even better improve financial services for South Africans by leveraging the digital economy.”

Arthur Goldstuck, founder of high-tech research consultancy World Wide Worx, editor-in-chief of Gadget, and a globally respected technology analyst has accepted Sasfin’s invitation to head up the Sasfin Digital Advisory Council, an independent think tank that will help Sasfin and its clients decipher the fintech present and future.

“The Sasfin Digital Advisory Council is broader than providing only the bank with a source of insight on how digital services are evolving and lessons from across the world,” said CEO Michael Sassoon. “Sasfin has been involved in fintech investing for many years and we are leveraging this experience as well as the experience of independent experts such as Arthur to provide insights and guidance to interested stakeholders in this space.”

The team appointed to the Digital Advisory Council is being selected for the breadth and range of knowledge they would bring to the table, with further appointments to the Council being announced soon.  There will also be room for the Council to co-opt specialist expertise as it is required.

Goldstuck, who has been covering the fintech sector as an analyst, commentator and columnist for many years, says he sees the role as a welcome challenge.

“There has been a long-standing need for a clear understanding of the impact being made by fintech today, and the exponential change it will cause tomorrow,” said Goldstuck. “My role will be, partly, to curate the wide spectrum of fintech and digitalisation knowledge and insights that the members will bring to the Digital Advisory Council, and help create scenarios that businesses and policymakers may use to navigate the future – both inside and outside Sasfin.”

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