Although 2020 was a tough year for everyone, Alwyn Rautenbach, CEO of the I3 Group, not only ensured its survival, but strategised to strengthen the business for future growth.
Part of this strategy was to employ Gerhard Greeff, well known to the industry through his work at MESA Africa (Manufacturing Enterprise Solutions Association) and MESA International, who has been involved in the MES market for the past 20 years. “We decided to expand into the MES domain as there are definite synergies with the control and automation competence within Iritron and the control room design and visualisation competence of Oculus, a subsidiary of Iritron,” explains Rautenbach. “I believe that adding MES competence to the fold will provide an additional offering to our customers and make the total bigger than the sum of its parts.”
Iritron was established to assist its customers to sustain increased efficiency and availability of their processes and operations. “We have assisted many companies in the past 20 years, but mostly at plant-floor level,” adds Rautenbach. “Optimisation opportunities at electrical and automation levels are limited as the biggest constraint typically occurs when people need to make plant-wide decisions. This is where MES will play its part as it reduces the time it takes between when an adverse event occurs on the plant floor and when the appropriate people that can act become aware of the event. This reduces the amount of lost production time, the number of defects produced and the amount of raw material wasted.”
Jacques van Eeden, well-known in the energy and food-chain industries in South Africa, was also employed. He has a wealth of experience in utility optimisation, looking at things such as wastewater purification, heat recovery, chiller and boiler optimisation and even condensate recovery. “We believe that the experience and expertise that he brings to the table not only fits in with the design and engineering competence of Iritron, but also with the environmental, heating and cooling competence within KVMTech, a sister company of Iritron in the I3 Group,” says Rautenbach. “This addition to our company competence is good for the environment as it has a focus on the sustainability of South Africa’s critical natural resources, energy and water.
“It is important that we all do our part for the environment. Water is a critical resource in South Africa and we should all try to conserve water as much as possible. If we can recover and reuse water from our production plants, it will reduce the strain on rainwater, given we are a drought-stricken country. We are also aware of the issues we have in South Africa with our local energy provider and changing our plants and processes to use less energy and use it more efficiently will benefit everyone in South Africa. We are seriously looking at renewables and clean energy to assist our clients reduce the strain on the grid. Helping our customers do better with their sustainability efforts is a big focus for us.”
Rautenbach believes that these additions to the I3 Group will open opportunities and expose Iritron to different markets and industries, not previously served. “We have not changed our strategic intent; we are just adding some competence to increase synergies within the group,” he concludes. “We have a lot of value to add and we want to plough as much of this competence and experience back into South Africa. We want to ensure maximum positive impact on the areas of our clients’ business that affect everyone in the country.”
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