Time To Say Goodbye…..!

I love that song as performed by Andrea Bocelli! And I also love most things Bocelli!! But this time the title above is a lot more personal. As of 24:00 (or 00:00) on 31st December 2019 I will cease to be an employee of CPUT after 39 years of quite an interesting ride.

Why work so long in one company? It’s an old-fashioned thing in the world of today. Was it apathy – easy money with little risk? Or did I enjoy it? The latter is the reason. In addition to that, working with young people kept me young. Or so I think.

However, an “interesting ride” almost copies the Chinese saying: “may you live in interesting times”. Or is it an English saying? The interesting time also refers to the usual ups and downs in life i.e. good and bad times. However, bad is not a good term to use in this particular case. I would rather use the word “challenging”!

And yes, there were many challenging times, but the good times far outweighed It. Keeping brevity in mind, I cannot go through all the good times in detail, but let me give you some of them in bullet point format since I am a listy sort of person:

  • Meeting so many young people who are now alumni and, in some cases, friends;
  • Living the true meaning of “life-long learning“;
  • Being part of the merger process of two legacy institutions and finally an academic department;
  • Being a part of establishing the Agrifood Technology Station and then eventually being seconded to manage it (for 12 years now);
  • Assisting with design and construction of a new joint facility with the Department of Food Science & Technology on the Bellville campus, one of very few of its kind attached to an academic institution;
  • Building the Station to its present status;
  • Meeting so many people in the general food industry.

In the words of a close relative, when asked the question about who influenced her life the most, she answered: everybody, and in small ways, which gives you one big influence! And such is mine as well.

In terms of the challenges: yes, there were many, key ones of which were:

  • Entering the world of teaching with no prior training (that’s how easy it was in those days, but things have changed now);
  • Living through student protests (early 1980s) and recently #FeesMustFall;
  • Managing the institutional merger process from the point of view of running two Food Technology departments, as if it were one, on two different campuses (also no prior management training for something as delicate as this);
  • And a few other less noteworthy ones.

However, what I would consider serendipity, was the fact that, when I came out of the University of the Western Cape in 1980 as a B.Sc. graduate with Biochemistry and Physiology as majors, I had no clue what the field of Food Technology entailed. I just happened to be in the right place at the right time with the right people when I bumped into this qualification. After playing a vigorous game of squash, I went for an interview in full kit, filled in some forms and, voila! After a steep learning curve I started understanding the concept and all the opportunities it had for myself and others at that time.

And here we are: a self-made food scientist/ technologist! Remember the life-long learning alluded to earlier!! And one who is now retiring!!!

The two questions most asked of me:

  1. Who is going to replace me and will the Station keep operating?: CPUT has its standard appointment processes in place and yes, there is no reason for the Station to either stop operating or lower its quality of work.
  2. What am I going to do in my retirement?: I would like to say boggerol but in fact I have a few key things I wish to do/ achieve.

My next activities in life will initially revolve around:

  • Sharpen my ballroom dancing skills with my wife. And yes, I do dance, with two left feet.
  • Travel southern Africa i.e. learn more about where I live.
  • Write: since I will not have access to this blog, I have established a personal one for writing of a general nature and also possibly industry-related topics. I will post this on the Food Science and Technology Graduates of South Africa Facebook page at the right time.

I will retain contact with academia/ ATS where it interests me and, if required for other types of work, I would consider this on an individual request basis. From the 1st January 2020 I will be contactable on larrydolley@gmail.com.


Larry Dolley

Entomophagy – it’s an Edible Insect Thing!

A few years ago, the Agrifood  Technology Station was approached by a grower of insects that were used to produce animal feed. In this case, the request was to assist with producing food for human consumption using the insect. And immediately upon writing this, I know that the Yuck! factor kicks in ….. that feeling of nausea related to eating something so alien to western diets!!! But stop, think, use your scientific mind and slowly convince yourself of the normalcy of this and the many benefits attached to it. The Conversation had published an interesting article in this regard. Read it to help you make up your mind.

The internet abounds with this new trend regarding consuming insects – just type “entomophagy” into your search engine to find out more about the benefits of adopting this new cuisine. But, back to the approach made to ATS: we started tinkering with the larvae produce by the Black Soldier Fly (Hermetia illucens), keeping mind that this fly is not like your ordinary house fly. Click here to learn more about BSF. One of the biggest growers of the fly operates internationally but has its home base in Cape Town viz. Agriprotein Technologies. Unfortunately, the original larvae we used was grown using organic waste i.e. not an acceptable process for eventual use in human food. Recently, cockroach milk has become flavor of the day. Imagine that!

However, notwithstanding this, some products were developed by ATS (but not consumed) just to prove the point that it was usable. The Yuck! factor was not tested:-) Keeping in mind that there are quite a few insect-based ingredients, in powder form, being produced internationally and already being consumed in South Africa, it is expected that this aversion to insects will slowly wane over time. What was an African and Asian food tradition is slowly chipping away at the bastions of western Yuckiness!

Having identified insects as a potential sustainable food source, the management of the ATS and Department of Food Science & Technology (DFST) embraced this as a key strategic research area since it falls under the World Health Organisation Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), in particular SDG 2 “Zero Hunger”.

During the initial product development phase, the intention was to produce an upmarket product in the first instance (a tofu) which could be aimed at the higher LSM market. This meant that, even though the idea is to produce insect-based products as a source of cheap but high quality protein and fats, it would not go down well by doing so and then introducing it to the lower LSM market. The idea was to ensure that the concept is first appreciated and adopted higher up the feeding chain (bad pun) before introducing it elsewhere in the market.

During this process ATS was approached by a start-up called Gourmet Grubb who have by now really disrupted this area of research in the country – have you seen them on TV with their gelato? Led by a Masters’ student in Food Science, ATS assisted with their product development with funding from the Technology Innovation Agency. In essence, the Station acted on behalf of and also together with the company by accepting larvae and taking it through a process to produce Entomilk which in turn was used to produce the gelato. TIA is now looking to put further funding into expanding the project scope.

Now, part of the function of ATS is to connect industry to the research capacity offered by academics at CPUT and, more specifically, in the Department of Food Science & Technology. And so it arose that, at this point, there are three such projects in progress at the moment. The personnel involved are Mr. Vusi Mshayisa (Lecturer and PhD candidate), Ms. Bongisiwe Zozo (ATS Intern and Masters’ candidate) and Mr. Vuyisani Bistoli (ATS Technician and Masters’ candidate). They were fortunate enough to attend the first African conference on insects held in Zimbabwe in August 2019. Ms. Zozo won the prize for best poster while the oral presentation and poster of the two gentlemen respectively were very well-received by the audience. You can imagine the excitement and the pride attached to this type of reception. The two Supervisors of Ms. Zozo (Profs. Wicht and Van Wyk) were very supportive of the process. ATS itself sponsored Ms. Zozo and Mr. Bistoli while DFST sponsored Mr. Mhsayisa.

Presently, DFST is building the concept of insects as a food ingredient into its curriculum as a further boost toward eating goggas in the future. This research field is ripe for the plucking.

Here’s to future engagement and collaboration on this topic. Already, with Ms. Zozo being registered in the Department of Chemistry, a collaboration has been constituted.

Larry Dolley

A Cultural Exchange with the Attaqua Community!

In the realm of Food Science & Technology, the primary field in which the Station operates, one often needs to work with different cultures, bacteria mostly, as was seen with the listeriosis outbreak in South Africa.

Fortunately, the exchange referred to above was a much more pleasant exercise. The Station was honored to host a delegation from the Attaqua Community from the Oudtshoorn area of the province. The substance of this gathering of minds is presented later in this blog. But let’s first understand or contextualize the term and grouping called the Attaqua. The Attaqua community is one of the Khoekhoe group which further includes the Inqua, Outeniqua, Hessequa, Namaqua, Chainoqua, Cocohoqua, Sonoqua and Griqua. Qua in Khoekhoe means people. Not being a historian or schooled in the history, I will leave this there for now in case I make misrepresentations. But I do insist that you read up on this rich history of the people referred to! There are numerous Google references for such and I will thus not foist my own favourites upon you.  I am myself related to the bigger grouping and have an interest in it from a personal point of view.

To business!! The Station hosts the Western Cape Indigenous Knowledge Systems Documentation Centre (IKSDC). This involves documenting and protecting indigenous knowledge of different types in different communities. For a complete description of this, see a recent blog here detailing the bigger project.

We have been busy working with the Attaqua community since early 2019. As part of this process, the Community Steering Committee of the Attaqua wished to visit the premises of ATS in order to build closer ties and also for both parties to explore how we could better assist each other in our respective endeavours.

Nine members of the Committee visited on the 2nd October 2019. It was a meeting/ visit of note for a number of different reasons. The agenda had three major points:

  1. Consideration of a draft Cooperation Agreement between CPUT and the Attaqua community. It must be noted that the Steering Committee itself is a delegated or representative body of the mother body which is the Khoi Cultural Heritage Development Council of South Africa (KCHDC-SA).
  2. A tour of the Food Science & Technology facility toward facilitating an understanding of the potential for further cooperation.
  3. A visit to the Technology Station in Clothing & Textiles, since the issue of indigenous knowledge related to textiles was considered relevant to the conversation.

The Attaqua delegation was led by Chief Poem Mooney who himself is Vice Chairperson of KCHDC-SA. He was accompanied by five Steering Committee members as well as three Recorders. Recorders are appointed community members who conduct the day to day interviewing and recording of potential indigenous knowledge holders. All such collected data is later verified and then loaded onto a national system which is protected and only accessible through a specific protocol. The latter protocol and overall management of the system is done under the newly-renamed Department of Science & Innovation (DSI) .

The meeting itself was a resounding success in my humble mind, albeit that this may be seen as a subjective statement. The outcomes of the meeting may be summarised as follows:

  1. The preamble to the meeting involved an extended introduction of role players. This bordered both on the technical aspects of the project but more so on the softer issues related to working with real mense! We were able to relate on a personal level in terms of who we are and why we are doing this project. Funnily enough, the overall conversation also touched on other points in terms of people we knew in common (strange how small the world is), and on things like ballroom dancing which was also a common link.
  2. The draft Cooperation Agreement was discussed and amendments suggested to the satisfaction of both parties but with the proviso that it is still open to further input once a document had been sent to the community and DSI. I personally, together with my legal colleague from the Technology Transfer Office (TTO), really appreciated the “cultural” aspects of the exchange and some of the indigenous knowledge shared during this conversation. The little bits of history around the Attaqua as a community was also very interesting.
  3. As expected, the tour of the Pilot Plant and labs elicited excited responses in terms of what could be achieved using CPUT as a vehicle for future work. This always gives us as staff a warm feeling and muted pride in what we had developed over the last 10 years.
  4. The visit to the TSCT further elicited more interest based on the fact that training could be offered to community members and/ or start-ups in different fields. Mr. Shamil Isaacs and his staff saw potential for further interaction and a decision was taken to explore this relationship further.

As an overall comment, potential projects had been identified outside of the primary IKSDC project and these will be explored further over the coming weeks. I certainly have an excited feeling about it and I know that our Attaqua colleagues left with the same sentiments as well.

Here’s to future engagement and collaboration.

Larry Dolley

Setting Up A Small Consultancy in the Food Industry

ATS recently had a poser put to it by a client in terms of sourcing a consultant to assist them with producing a specific sauce. Our usual go-to response is by using our database of consultants whom we know are active in the field. This time round we decided to use a different route as an experiment based on a brainwave!

My brain lamp

Why not use our graduate Facebook page and see what pops up? Why not join if you have not done so yet…Food Science and Technology graduates of South Africa. So, this was placed as a request for service providers to the graduates, and yes, we received a few (not a torrent) offers of assistance. However, the position was quickly filled, which is not necessarily the point of this story!

The actual point is that there are unemployed graduates out there. The reasons for being unemployed are varied: looking for a job, changed career, looking after a baby, disillusioned with working for a boss, etc. What this points to is that, even though a few persons responded, there must be a bigger number out there that are unemployed.

In a recent conversation with an employee of a consulting company, it turns out they are very busy trying to satisfy the needs of industry. This means they have more than enough work to keep themselves busy. So, what about trying to satisfy this need in specific fields of the industry?? Why can unemployed graduates not pool their skills and act as consultants in the field??

OK, so don’t get me wrong here! The graduates I refer to would have to be well-skilled or experienced and would have to have an inner drive to excel as an individual and, more importantly, as part of a team. For those that would want to make a quick buck …. this will not work for you since a team (or new consulting consortium) would have to break into the industry, prove itself over time and then start using the uptick in clientele to make a reasonable living.

In addition, for those of you with less experience, you still have oodles more knowledge than the average start-up or nano-enterprise in terms of technical issues (not necessarily business experience). Why not direct your skills to this sector? They usually require very basic assistance, something which could be used to add to your experience and build your confidence. If you apply this concept to home industries (of which there are many) and spaza-type enterprises, you could sit with quite a bit of work to do.

If you (or your group) is not confident enough, you could use the Agrifood Technology Station as your partner in terms of supplying initial services. Add to this the fact they the Station often gets work which it is too busy to handle. The cherry on the cake is that, if you need to do technical work such as product or process development, you would have relatively easy access to all our facilities.

At this point: a word of caution. You cannot supply sub-standard services since this will ruin your reputation or you could inadvertently affect the health of consumers.

So, the challenge is out there: come to ATS to see if we can assist you in setting up an enterprise. We cannot assist with the business registration and other business development issues, but we certainly can advise you how to go about some things based on our own experience with small companies and also individual consulting expertise.

Please also note that there is much more to this than can be added to this blog i.e. there is a bigger picture which shows more challenges but …… Try us. You may like us!

Larry Dolley

How Valuable are Long, Face-to-Face Meetings in Today’s World?

In my long working life, and as I had climbed the “corporate” academic ladder to moderate heights, the increase in “meeting time” and the value thereof became a challenge. The challenge was specifically in enduring these and also accepting the value (or most times the lack thereof) in them.

Now, get me straight: there are quite a few instances where meetings are critical and highly valuable to the project! But there are even more where they are not, in my opinion. I would suppose it all depends on a number of factors to decide whether a meeting had been valuable or not and, in terms of objectivity, my perception is totally subjective and riddled with self-interest. I will, in the interest of fairness to meeting-o-philes, try to maintain a modicum of objectivity.

Let’s look at some of the advantages of face to face meetings:
1. Exchange of thoughts and ideas are instantaneous. However, misconceptions and misunderstandings often happen which rules out this particular value.
2. Voice volume, timbre and body language are valuable communication tools in this instance. How often have you read emotion into a perfectly straightforward e-mail? When someone reads an e-mail to you to which they had taken affront, have you noticed how they put their own spin on language emphasis, volume and other emotive touches?
3. This type of meeting also can prevent overly long exchanges of e-mails or other forms of digital communication.
4. If the meeting is minuted and there are other parties present, there is a “collective” knowledge backed up by recorded minutes for any further discussion or disputes, etc.
5. A good chairperson can manage the duration of the meeting within reason. However, a poorly controlled meeting can then become a bit of a nightmare and a colossal waste of some participants’ time.

Then, the disadvantages, which to some extent are opposites to the above but also just a bit more than that:
1. A poor Chairperson could let the meeting run on too long or stray from the immediate agenda.
2. You could die of deep vein thrombosis from sitting for 3 to 4 hours (can counter-acted by supplying aspirin as part of the catering regime 🙂
3. Some people love their own voices and, if unchecked, can really stretch out a meeting (related to (1) above).
4. Despite submitting written reports, some people tend to want to read out the whole document while it should (a) just cover key points for noting or, where it is an innocuous report, it should just be noted on the understanding members should have read it.
5. Unnecessary items appear on the agenda and which could mostly have been dealt with elsewhere or off-line.
6. Items not on the agenda are raised without using the “ordering and approval of Agenda” and without submitting such prior to meetings as is usually requested.
7. “Lunch” or catering is involved without making it a “working lunch”!!
8. Why cater for people who work on campus and who should have their own lunch made at home? – time and money down the tubes. What about the saying: There is no free lunch in life! 9. TIME IS WASTED.

And I have not touched on the many electronic/ digital tools placed at your disposal in the workplace (such as in mine) which could be used to minimize meeting time. My gut feel confirmed by informal testing is that some staff just do not know how to use the expensive infrastructure placed at their disposal or are historically opposed to it, including via “ageism” (and here I partly include myself).

And I could go on! But let me leave it there. Any meeting lasting for more than 60 minutes is a conference or workshop in my book!

Interaction with Not For Profit Entities & Community Engagement

Over the last two months the Agrifood Technology Station has had the pleasure of interacting with two entities involved with community engagement, upliftment and creating employment. Beside the Technology Innovation Agency mandate for Technology Stations overtly being Innovation Support and Technology Transfer, a less emphasized element of the overall mandate is that of collaboration with other entities, stimulating growth of businesses and also creation of employment. In 2018, another such collaboration had taken place with Food Forward SA (see blog here).

The first entity engaged in this was in 2019 was Abalimi Bezekhaya, an NPO involved with food gardening in the greater  Cape Town area. Beside providing micro-farming advisories, this also translates to production of food at home and in the community. Their Harvest of Hope program also connects the market to these small farmers, allowing them to earn an income in the process.

However, because of small glitches between production quantities and sales made, there is often surplus produce left which, because of its generally short shelf-life, either goes to waste or is sold as animal feed at a pittance. Mr. Zukile Malusi described elements of the challenge faced and suggested that ATS could possibly help in two specific ways:
1. Assist with accepting and hosting the processing of excess materials at CPUT in the Pilot Plant;
2. Simultaneously assist with offering basic training dealing with washing raw material, conversion to a secondary or tertiary product, appropriate packaging materials, storage conditions and shelf-life awareness. Presently this is being planned between the two parties and we hope that this will eventually be realized with benefits to all parties concerned.

A second happy confluence of events and people happened via a visit by Abalobi ICT4Fisheries in the form of Ms. Jackie Sunde. In a very similar fashion to that with Abalimi Bezekhay, they required assistance with seafood processing, product development, food safety, packaging and marketing. This included the need for training to make women involved in coastal fishing communities more able to add value to their harvest of seaweed and other edible organisms.

The Department of Food Science & Technology attended an initial briefing meeting in St. Helena Bay where participants from both the west and south coast were represented. Prof. Jessy Van Wyk and Dr. Suné Henning presented the potential from the side of CPUT to offer appropriate assistance. This was estimated to include, but is not limited to:
1. Training involving hygienic handling and process of marine products. This happens to be a speciality of Dr. Henning since she had developed material and conducted training for trout harvesting and processing for small aquaculture farmers in the areas surrounding Cape Town. This aroused the interest of all participants who indicated a dire need for such.
2. It was also proposed that this eventually morph into a Service Learning project under Dr. Henning’s management, another arrow in her quiver of academic offerings. Service Learning involves credit-bearing work undertaken with registered students in different communities.
3. A link was also made to the Indigenous Knowledge Systems Documentation Centre (IKSDC) which is presently managed by ATS on behalf of the national Department of Science & Technology. It was proposed that the Centre Coordinator make contact with the community through appropriate channels in order to document such indigenous knowledge for recording and protection by DST on behalf of the community for further beneficiation. Sharing of this information was well-received by the community, since the members who attended the St. Helena Bay event were given the assurance that the recordal of any Indigenous Knowledge by the IKSDC will not jeopardise their ownership/ benefits of the Indigenous Knowledge in any way.
4. ATS had also suggested that a drying bin developed at CPUT for by-catch processing also be considered for rolling out in the community, possibly together with the partner organization that participated in the process.

So, very soon, a second meeting is to be held with the west coast community where a little more detailed information will be given in terms of potential elements of the project which will be rolled out over time. This includes training workshops on both the west and south coast.

It gives us a warm and fuzzy feeling when we can assist people and communities in this way, over and above the hardcore technology innovation expected of us!

Something’s Brewing in the Food Science and Technology Building at CPUT!

In 2014, a few novice brewers , including staff and students, knocked together a special brew for the national Inter-varsity brewing competition. And they won a prize for their Rooibru. This was an interesting start to what is now an amazing journey for the personnel involved as they have grown, honed and improved their skills in this art  posing as science (or vice versa).

Some history: this entry into fermentation heaven was started off by then South African Breweries donating toward an entry level micro-brewing system. This had been done at a number of Engineering departments at other universities over the years in order to stimulate an interest in brewing among students. And hence also the development of an inter-varsity competition. Placing a unit at a Department of Food Science & Technology was a first in South Africa.

However, staff at the department decided on a  different route to that of previous donated breweries i.e. one built with hygienic design principles in mind. And so it came to pass that an albeit rudimentary, but definitely functional, micro-brewing system was born. And every year, since its inception, CPUT students have been winning awards at the inter-varsity, which included cash, the latter which was then used to improve the brewing system.

In 2014, Rooibru won the “Ben Lamaletie” IBD Intervarsity Beer Brewing Challenge Floating Trophy, the top honour Castle Lager Best Bru Award, as well as the Carling Black Label Champion Lager. In 2015 we won the Best Speciality brew (Tipsy Inyanga), best Label in 2016 and Best Cider (Apple Adventure) in 2017 at the inter-varsity, which included cash which was then used to improve the brewing system.  The Best Lager (Munich Dunkel) was awarded to CPUT in 2018 which is characterized by depth, richness and complexity typical of darker Munich malts with the accompanying Maillard reaction products.

Dr. Keyser on left with Team receiving an award

The first significant change resulted in the brewing system being capable of gravity filtration between the Lauter tun and the Wort kettle. This, together with the installation of a more powerful pump, greatly facilitated this important separation step. From there it consistently grew in functionality. Right now we are on the brink of receiving our upgraded system from benefactors and partners (Robotic Handling Systems and Beckhoff) who had offered to assist with adding a Programmable Logic Controller to better monitor, control and record different elements of the brewing process. The intention is to add as many electronic sensors as possible to the micro-brewing setup over time in order to obtain real-time profiles of what is happening during brewing. This is in keeping with the 4th Industrial Revolution concept as well as the Internet of Things.

CPUT has, in its 2030 grand plan, identified 4IR as a major element of future training and curriculum development. And so has much of the world if you watch science and technology news streams. In tandem with this, the Agrifood Technology Station (ATS) is in the process of putting together a proposal for a 4IR-related project in terms of employing sensor technology more widely in the SMME sector of the food industry to improve efficiency.

Coming back to brewing: as much as brewing is a young element of research being done at CPUT, it is intended that this will be grown in terms of postgraduate study but also as an area where collaboration with micro-brewers can be developed. How about becoming an experimental facility for micro-brewers who can play around with brewing profiles without compromising their own commercial brewing program. Intended areas for collaboration include analytical services (colour, carbon dioxide, enzyme activity, humulones, isohumulones, density, etc.), shelf-life analysis, and also training for entry-level brewers.

Another aspect that has developed significantly over the years is the broadening and deepening of the skills and knowledge-base in terms of our brewing team. From the humble beginnings of Dr Keyser and two MTech students, we presently have the support of three BTech, two Master’s and one Doctoral student. Our most recent focus areas include indigenous brews such as umqombhoti, low alcohol beer as well as improving and extending our range of yeast cultures.

We are also proud of our partnership with the University of Applied Sciences, Osnabruck, Germany who owns a pilot scale brewery. Exchanges thus far resulted in their brewing of our “Rooibru” during a festival, in honor of the late President Mandela, in Osnabruck. Very high praise was heaped on this beer by the fortunate consumers. This news was very pleasing considering that German beer drinkers can rightly be considered discerning.

This is just the start! Keep an eye … hic! …. on this page!!

Larry Dolley (on be half of the Brewing Team)

Indigenous Knowledge Systems Documentation Centre – a Mouthful of Heritage!

The national Department of Science & Technology has a specific directorate (Knowledge Management Systems) managing and documenting indigenous knowledge. The Western Cape Indigenous Knowledge Systems Documentation Centre (IKSDC) was previously managed by a Not for Profit agency and, as of 2018, had been transferred to CPUT under the aegis of the Agrifood Technology Station. The Western Cape IKSDC (as it is known) is one of 10 in the country (one in each of 8 provinces and two in Kwazulu Natal).

The IKSDC is a flat structure in terms of personnel i.e. a Manager (myself) and a Coordinator, the latter being appointed as of 1st March 2019 (Ms. Mbali Dlamini). The latter person is the key practitioner and works closely with the Directorate: Knowledge Management Systems and different communities as they are identified. The Manager and a Steering Committee largely plays an oversight role and the project will be monitored through the DST M&E unit related to this.

Considering that ATS is a latecomer to the game, systems and activities are still being put in place or enacted. One leg of the project is to re-visit a community in the Oudtshoorn area which was  survey in the last three years. This visit is to tie up loose ends and to re-collect data that did not live up to expectations in terms of its integrity.

Regarding the concept, collection and protection of such data, you could refer to an article put out by the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) dealing with attitudes to indigenous knowledge or how UWC is mainstreaming this concept in the curriculum. Another interesting article is that in the Mail & Guardian (February 2018).

Why is ATS dabbling with the concept of indigenous knowledge? Well may you ask! Keep in mind that indigenous knowledge takes on many different forms e.g. food, plants, medicine, arts & culture, storytelling, etc. It is obvious that food would be uppermost in mind in relation to ATS and the Department of Food Science & Technology. However, there is also common ground with all the other types of knowledge at CPUT and other institutions of learning. Medicine in particular – CPUT (via the Department of Horticultural Sciences) are working in this area. So too the Department of Biomedical Sciences and the Oxidative Stress Research Centre.

Keep in mind that the idea of information collection and protection is to ensure that any beneficiation related to this knowledge should include benefits for the owners of the knowledge in one way or the other. Examples of where this went wrong are the Hoodia gordonii incident and also rooibos (Aspalathus linearis). If it is done correctly, the data collected can then be used to drive innovation in the different fields to the benefit of all involved. It is expected that the family of Technology Stations in the country should be at the forefront of this beneficiation and technology development.

Finally, since this project in its entirety deals with people and communities, managing this process requires exceptional adherence to ethical practices, good communications and relationship management. ATS look forward to being part of this process as the project matures.

Food SMEs and the Fourth Industrial Revolution – Do you want to join us on a project?

This is a call to Small and Medium food enterprises. The Agrifood Technology Station wishes to generate a project(s) regarding the implementation of the Internet of Things (IoT) and 4IR concept to your factory floor.

This would involve doing a baseline assessment of the data you collect during your manufacturing process and then also identifying/ suggesting other areas for data collection to improve the overall data set. Where necessary, this implies installing appropriate sensor technology.

The data collected will be used to measure performance/ efficiency against the baseline data and possibly point out ways for further improvement/ efficiencies. Obviously, the sensor technology would have to be chosen based on the cost of such in the overall project.

ATS will be partnering with the Technology Station in Electronics based at the Tshwane University of Technology and the AMTL Adaptronics Technology Station at CPUT on this project.

You are hereby invited to write a short *proposal in e-mail format to dolleyl@cput.ac.za outlining the following (maximum 500 words):

  1. Company name and nature of the business (what do you produce);
  2. Size of operation in terms of factory area (square metres) and number of employees;
  3. Quantity of product produced per day (in whatever units appropriate to your process);
  4. The data you presently collect and record e.g. masses, numbers, volumes and any other in/on-line data recording such as fill levels, metal detection, etc.
  5. Any other items that relate to your process which you feel may assist in making a decision to implement in your business.

*Please do not divulge any sensitive or confidential information if you feel uncomfortable with it.

Your proposal will be assessed. If chosen for this project, an appropriate contract and confidentiality agreement will be signed between you and the University, after which a funding application will be made to support the project, either fully or partly, pending funder rules. You will be intimately involved throughout the process.

Larry Dolley

Look at the Expertise in our “Grey Knowledge” Database

ATS recently completed a funded project related to creating a database of retired experts in the broader food industry. The intention of this was to gather willing consulting candidates who would commit to help ATS in assisting SMMEs in the field. ATS always disclaims being the holder of all knowledge and expertise in this broad field and always indicates to clients the value of consultants.

Just think about the number of retired (and soon to be retired) employees in this industry who have years if experience, either general or in very specific fields! This database (and the project itself) is now an ongoing project that will grow organically as the news spreads and as more consultants are signed up. Coincidentally, a Sunday Times column by Peter Bruce touched on this very thing on 3rd March 2019 i.e. the lack of skills in the country. He pointed to skills leaving the country and, more pertinently, the difference between knowledge and skills. An example is the number of graduates leaving institutions with knowledge but often lacking in skills. The latter can mostly only be gained by learning from others or practicing in the field. And a lot of the expert skills are invested in “old hands” in the industry.

Beside it being commonsense to work on a project of this nature, it was seeded by the existence of a Dutch organization called Programma Uitzending Managers – Netherlands Senior Experts (PUM for short). In this instance, the Dutch organization enjoys state funding. They, with their retired experts, are tasked with assisting companies in other countries to develop their SMMEs in all fields. In this case it is on a volunteerism basis, something which in South Africa may not be as easy since not everybody retires “rich” – ask me – I am about to retire myself! However, the concept of sharing the knowledge is bigger than the concept of volunteerism in this instance. In addition, using such expertise will in any case very likely involve initial contact between consultant and SMME on a subsidized basis.

ATS intends expanding this database and will eventually look to place it on a web-based platform, with added features such allowing consultants to list themselves without going directly through ATS. Obviously, vetting of such consultants will be done before new data is allowed to go live. It will also allow the public to search the database using key words in terms of the challenge they face or the sub-field in which they require assistance. If this comes up positive, with an indication that expertise is on the database, ATS may then be contacted to set in motion the process of rendering assistance in the specific sub-field or challenge.

For now, there are about 20 such experts on the database with the plan to register at least 50 by mid-2019. The range in expertise is quite extensive and the list below tries to indicate this:
• Hygienic design and food process engineering;
• Protein chemistry and engineering, including gelatin;
• Spray drying;
• Food safety systems implementation and management;
• Beverage technology, development and processing;
• Dairy technology;
• Meat technology and processing;
• Packaging technology;
• Halaal expertise;
• Thermal processing;
• Rheology;
• Quality assurance and control;
• Flavours and fragrances;
• Business development and export promotion.

In the next few months ATS will use these experts on the basis of matching client needs to the expertise available. An assessment will be made at the end of 2019 as to the success/ value of running and keeping such a database updated.

Help us grow the database! Do you know of anyone who has recently retired and who may be willing to join us?

Larry Dolley