Smart building automation now possible with Hager range from EM

Exclusively for CIPN

Cost-effective and easy-to-install smart building automation solutions are now possible with the latest Hager systems introduced locally by leading supplier ElectroMechanica (EM). The Hager domovea solution has been showcased at Swarovski Lighting’s new-build showroom in Green Point, Cape Town. This is a flagship application for building automation, which is gaining in popularity in South Africa, due to a growing requirement for energy efficiency, convenience, and sustainability.

The Hager solution forms part of EM’s extensive product range of high-quality industrial electrical goods, motor control switchgear, and electronic automation products for a range of clients and market segments. End users include wholesalers, consultants, building contractors, system integrators, switchboard and panel builders, and also engineering procurement companies.

The Swarovski Green Point project commenced towards the end of 2017, and was completed in Q1 2018. “Our brief was to supply a centralised control of all of the light fittings on display,” Ryan Whitelaw, EM product manager for building automation, explains.

Not only was this for control of the premises, with the activation of various themes such as for morning and for night, but the aim was also for the salespeople to be able to demonstrate the products to customers via tablets. “The specification of the lighting products is quite technical, which is why we proposed the advanced Hager solution,” Whitelaw explains.

For Swarovski specifically, EM specified high-quality Hager B7 switch frames, which feature a clean design, vega D enclosures featuring a ready-to-mount configuration, and the domovea automation dashboard, which is controllable from a smartphone or tablet, as well as the wall-mounted keypad.

The domovea dashboard provides for intuitive control of a range of devices, from lights to shutters, heating, air-conditioning, and other systems, from single rooms to entire floors. The main advantage is that it allows for easy control from a single point, including remote control via an app available for iPhone, iPad, and Android devices. The dashboard even allows for energy consumption data to be stored for comparison against various timeframes, from days to months.

Another Hager building automation system, coviva, is ideal for the burgeoning South African market as it does not require extensive construction work in order to be installed, or even additional cable routing, as it is an entirely retrofittable wireless solution.

The coviva system is ideal for retrofitting, modernising, or upgrading, and also dovetails with the higher-end Hager domovea KNX system. “The latest launch means EM can now comfortably supply either spectrum of the market demand, and can therefore cater for a broader range of clients, from home owners to commercial, retail, hospitality, and industrial.”

The secret to the cost-effectiveness of the coviva system lies in its micromodules, which are easy to install, monitor, and control. Once installed behind existing switches or connection boxes, the micromodules communicate wirelessly in order to automate multiple functions.

Once connected, the micromodules can instantly control dimming systems, on/off switches, raising/lowering blinds and more. Each micromodule has a colour-coded function indicator for quick programming.

The micromodules have been designed specifically to deliver exceptional wireless reach. This means they can penetrate two concrete slabs, and still transmit up to 30 m indoors, while outdoors their reach can extend up to 100 m in an open area.

With coviva, individual functions can not only be controlled, but also combined, which means that entire scenarios can be created and retrieved upon demand, such as “morning” or “evening”. Called “covigrams”, these scenarios can be created simply in the app by means of an intuitive menu with understandable if-then functions.


Cushman & Wakefield Broll provide comprehensive range of occupier services

Broll Property Group, the largest independently owned Pan-African commercial property services company, has entered into an exclusive affiliate arrangement with Cushman & Wakefield, a leading global real estate services company.

The new venture represents a partnership with Broll’s occupier services business and will be branded Cushman & Wakefield Broll, providing clients with an integrated platform covering the entire sub-Saharan Africa region.

The partnership combines Broll’s well-established operations and market-leading track record of occupier services across Africa with Cushman & Wakefield’s global reach. This will allow for the optimisation of Broll’s expansive knowledge of the African markets with the weight and expertise of a global player.

“This partnership provides an important distinction for users of space, who will benefit from the Cushman & Wakefield Broll dedicated focus on occupier clients,” says Ken Gerber, MD of Broll Occupier Services.

The service offering covers end-to-end corporate real estate solutions for businesses across all sectors, including advisory and transactions, workplace consulting, project management, estate management, data management, technology and finance, as well as treasury services.

Malcolm Horne, CEO of Broll Property Group, said: “We are very excited about launching Cushman & Wakefield Broll, which is an affiliation partnership with Broll’s Occupier Services business and will provide our clients with integrated access to a phenomenal global platform.

“Our progressive culture of innovation, service excellence and longstanding client relationships provides a natural synergy with Cushman & Wakefield. Broll’s focus will always be on providing value adding advice that comes from a deep understanding of local markets across Africa, based on our experience in concluding over 6 000 leases in the last 12 months alone, covering in excess of 2,2 million m2.”

Gerber adds, “We are thrilled to announce this venture and look forward to reaping the rewards that both parties will bring.”

Serving seven regional hubs across Africa, the Broll Occupier team comprises of 150 staff members, integrating the local skills and knowledge of on-the-ground professionals with centralised processes, governance and optimised efficiencies.

Cushman & Wakefield has 5 500 people across 133 offices in EMEA. Its strong relationships across the region with affiliates extends delivery of services into markets where the firm does not currently have a wholly-owned presence.

Colin Wilson, CEO, EMEA, Cushman & Wakefield, said: “The sub-Saharan region contains Africa’s two largest economies of Nigeria and South Africa, as well as some of the world’s fastest growing and most dynamic markets. We are excited to enter this exclusive relationship with Broll which enables us to support clients who are already well-established there, as well as provide strategic on-the-ground advice to those looking to grow their presence or enter the region for the first time.”

Founded in 1975, Broll has offices in the major cities of South Africa, the largest African commercial property market; as well as operations in 15 other sub-Saharan African countries including Botswana, Cameroon, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Madagascar, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, Réunion, Seychelles, Swaziland, Uganda and Zambia.

In addition to occupier services, Broll’s other services include property management; property broking; valuation and advisory services; shopping centre management; retail leasing and projects; property intel; and property auctioneering.

Investing in REITs without risky direct ownership

When people want to invest in real estate, they usually secure a loan to purchase a property – either residential or commercial. But there are other, more efficient and less costly ways to invest in the property sector.

There are many benefits to direct real estate investment and it is easy to see why buying-to-let is an attractive investment option. However, it is also easy to overlook the considerable costs you can incur, and the drain this type of investment has on your time. Downsides include a lack of diversification, lower liquidity, vacancies leading to loss of rental income, property taxes, insurance and maintenance costs.

This is part of the reason why real estate investment trusts (REITs) have become so popular. REITs offer many of the same benefits of direct property investment, but without the problems.

Marc Edwards, CEO of Tower Property Fund, explains that a REIT is basically a company that owns a portfolio of income producing real-estate that provides investors the chance to own valuable real estate for as little as the price of a share. “Individuals can invest in REITs either by purchasing their shares directly on an open exchange or by investing in a unit trust type of product that specialises in public property. Six monthly dividends will come from the rent collected on these properties, and the value of your REIT shares can increase over time, subject to a stable market as profits grow, so you’ll also own an appreciating asset that grows in value much like a stock.”

Benefits of owning shares in a REIT

“But it is not just about returns,” says Edwards. “The benefits of owning shares in a REIT, compared with direct real estate investing, are plenty. The first is greater diversification: with a REIT, you’re buying a piece of a large real estate portfolio. In comparison, with the price of property and all the other associated costs of buying, diversification of any sort is exceptionally difficult and if you were to buy a property yourself, you’d typically only be able to finance a single property rather than many.

“The second is more liquidity: Since REITs can be bought and sold like a stock, an investor has much more liquidity when compared to investing in a physical property. The third benefit is the fact that you don’t have to invest your time being a landlord: Instead, there is a professional management team that does it for the investors of a REIT.”

The data is clear. REITs have been the best performing asset class in South Africa for the majority of the past 15 years. In the past 18 months returns have reduced due to a number of factors, resulting in a cheaper entry into listed property. Therefore, if you’re thinking about increasing your real estate exposure and want access to a diversified pool of liquid real estate assets that give you six monthly dividends as well as capital growth, then a REIT is probably the right investment for you.

Property investment comparisons at a glance:


Purchasing property is expensive. Buying property directly will usually mean an investment of well over a R1 million up to several million rands just for one asset. The minimum investment in a SA REIT is one share. Depending on the SA REIT, this could then be below R10.


When buying-to-let, any borrowing is done in your personal capacity and this introduces the risk of default, being blacklisted and potentially losing more capital than you put in. When buying property stocks, the borrowing is done by the REITs themselves. Therefore, there is no debt in your personal capacity and thus no risk of default.

Increasing interest rates

A rise in interest rates will directly impact your borrowing rate, and as such your monthly re-payments. When investing in REITs, the interest rate needs to be addressed by the REIT and not by you. Many of the REITs are hedging or have already hedged a portion of their interest rate exposure to minimise their risk in an increasing interest rate environment.

Vacancy risk

When you own a property, you face the risk of your tenant leaving, cancelling or not paying. When any of these things occur, you lose rental income and need to spend valuable time and resources finding a new tenant, tenant fit-outs etc.

Of course, REITs also have vacancy risks, and these cannot be avoided, however REITs have professional management companies in place to avoid vacancies, and vacancies are spread over a larger portfolio, reducing your income risk.

Rental income versus REIT distributions

Both rental income and distributions from REITs are not guaranteed. REITs obtain their rentals from a diversified portfolio, reducing the risk of zero distributions.

Diversification benefits

If you buy real-estate yourself you will typically only be able to afford a single property. REITs provide immediate diversification across a number of geographical locations (including offshore) and property types, including industrial, warehousing, offices, shopping centres and many more.


Rental properties are not liquid and it can take months or even years to sell a rental property. REITs are liquid investments that can be easily converted to cash timorously and without paying excessive fees.


Emira’s Denver warehousing attracts savvy tenants

Emira Property Fund’s refurbished warehouse facility superbly located in the popular industrial hub of Denver, Johannesburg, has opened its doors, attracting savvy tenants looking for state-of-the-art warehouse facilities, paired with contemporary office space and excellent energy efficiency.

Emira, a leading JSE-listed REIT has invested R8,2 million in the major revamp project, breathing new life into the industrial property which is ideally situated on the corner of Mimetes Road and Kruger Street, offering easy highway access and a convenient location.

“The refurbishment of the Denver warehouse speaks to our commitment to improving the quality of our assets. This property already boasts an excellent location in an established industrial area, with easy highway access, security, and ample electrical power. Following on from the upgrades, we are now able to offer even more value with our modern approach to both their warehousing and business operation needs,” says Ulana van Biljon, COO of Emira Property Fund.

The new facility offers contemporary warehousing of 9 800 m2, in which the new building includes over 1 000 m2 of well-designed, comfortable office space with an eye-catching new entrance. The new courtyard bridges the office and warehouse space, and both have been fitted with the latest in energy-efficient lighting to lower occupancy costs at the facility.

An attractive space to do business, the entire building boasts a striking new façade including unusual linear feature lighting, creating a new landmark for the Denver area.

The upgraded warehouse property also offers water-wise, landscaped gardens, and a new gatehouse positioned at a reconfigured entrance point with electric gates, supporting both security and ease of access. New parking canopies have been installed to cover 100 of the 114 parking bays, and new fencing surrounds the entire perimeter.

“What makes this upgraded industrial facility even more attractive are the affordable rental costs and generous tenant allowances. We have identified a need for affordable, modern and convenient warehousing space and the Denver property addresses this perfectly. It goes beyond being just another industrial property in terms of appearance, as well as the latest in warehousing tech. All of this amounting to hard-to-beat value for money, which is in step with business needs in today’s economy,” van Biljon concludes.

Emira is a medium-cap diversified REIT that is invested in a quality, balanced portfolio of office, retail, industrial and residential properties. At 31 December 2018, its directly held assets comprised 104 properties valued at R12,5 billion. It invests indirectly in 22 shopping centres valued at R1,04 billion through its exposure to Enyuka Property Fund. It also has a 34,9% holding in JSE AltX-listed Transcend Residential Property Fund.

Emira is internationally diversified through its investment in ASX-listed Growthpoint Properties Australia (GOZ) valued at R941 million, and its equity investments in eight grocery-anchored open-air convenience shopping centres with a combined value of USD61 million through its USA subsidiary.


York technology powers Omnia innovation

Omnia’s new R670 million nitro-phosphate (NP) plant in Sasolburg is expected to come on line in the second quarter of 2019. Built around an innovative new production method, it is going to be a game-changer for the company. Johnson Controls’ Sabroe compressors, which power a custom-build ammonia chiller plant, will play an important role.

“A core part of the NP production innovation is a new more efficient method of crystallisation, which requires the NP liquid to be rapidly cooled,” explains Kripal Daby, lead process engineer for the project. “As this is a critical part of the process, we needed a chiller solution that was not only robust and reliable, but capable of managing variable loads, and able to respond effectively and operate cost effectively.

“The custom-built Johnson Controls ammonia chiller was not only able to meet our functional demands, it was able to offer us high energy-efficiency gains, helping to ensure our new production method is viable and sustainable.”

Finding the ideal configuration took collaboration. “Johnson Controls worked closely with the Omnia team through multiple testing phases to engineer and configure the chiller solution for the new NP plant,” says Russell Hattingh, engineering manager at Johnson Controls. “We are pleased to be part of what we believe is an important innovation in the sector.”

The standard NP production method is well known. It comprises dissolution of rock phosphate with nitric acid, crystallization of the dissolving solution and separation of the crystals from the acid solution. Approximately 40% of the new Omnia NP plant process is familiar  ̶  up to the making of the NP liquid. The crystallisation process is where the differentiation lies.

The new Omnia nitro phosphate plant is set to start production in March 2019. Says Hattingh: “Omnia required different temperature brine streams. To make the process viable, efficient operation of the chiller is critical, so multiple evaporating temperatures were provided.

“We settled on the use of four SABROE screw compressor chillers operating in parallel. All of these units have variable speed drives which enable the chillers to operate reliably over a wide range of conditions, while cutting energy use significantly. A larger swing compressor was added for versatility and redundancy.

“Given the criticality of the solution, the service capability that Johnson Controls can provide was an important factor in winning this deal.”

The saving for Omnia is significant. Says Daby: “The chillers are able to run at high capacity (90%) and still lower our energy usage, delivering up to R900 000 in energy savings per annum.”

In phase two, Omnia will double the capacity of its NP plant, expanding the chiller solution to seven Sabroe compressors. Notes Hattingh: “We will continue to work with Omnia to ensure optimal performance of the Johnson Controls ammonia chiller plant, and to customise and refine outputs to meet the requirements of the NP plant as it ramps up production.

“This is a unique application for an exciting new operation, and we are pleased to have been able to meet Omnia’s demands. It’s a great reflection of what becomes possible when we collaborate with our customers, combining deep industry knowhow and advanced engineering.”


Montego Pet Nutrition invests R22 million in solar energy efficiency

Montego Pet Nutrition (Montego) recently completed a R22 million solar plant project at its Graaff-Reinet based production facility, which is set to reduce its annual electricity demand by 1,4 million kWh – enough to generate power for nearly 120 households at an average consumption of 1 000 units per month for an entire year.

Montego worked with SPV Solar to plan and execute the project, which included upgrades to its existing electrical infrastructure and installing generator sets and a solar panel system. The 843 kWp solar panel system covers an area of 4 580 m2 of rooftop space, with each panel measuring two square metres and weighing 25 kg.

“Solal power not only helps make a positive environmental impact, but it is an ideal energy solution for us from a cost-saving perspective too, especially because of the favourable climate in Graaff-Reinet,” says Wilfred Cawood, marketing manager at Montego Pet Nutrition.

The solar panel installation will save Montego 24% annually on electricity and has the potential to earn back the company’s investment within the next four years.

“The greatest benefit of going the solar route lies in the positive impact it can have on the environment,” says Morgan Naicker, MD at SPV Solar. “Simply put, the system we’ve installed for Montego will achieve the equivalent of eliminating the greenhouse gasses of nearly 600 motor vehicles on the road annually, or reduce the energy usage needed to power 2 000 computers for a year, or enough energy to operate a TV for over 23 million hours.”

The nine-month project follows closely on the heels of a R70 million factory upgrade that Montego implemented in 2018 to meet local and international demand of its premium quality pet food, which boosted overall production by 30%.

“Our only limitation to the solar project has been a lack of rooftop space, but there are pipeline plans to build additional infrastructure to accommodate more solar installations and achieve a further 2MWs,” says Cawood. “There is also the possibility of a ground-mounted solar structure, which we are discussing as we continue our efforts to ‘go green’ and find sustainable alternatives.”

The final module was installed and completed on 17 May, with the balance of the system the end of May 2019. For more information, visit

About Montego Pet Nutrition

Montego Pet Nutrition is local premium pet food manufacturer that started in the heart of the Karoo in 2000. The company maintains a FSSC 22000 certification, demonstrating its commitment to food safety and delivering high-quality, world-class products to its local and international customers. Montego Pet Nutrition currently boasts an affordable high-quality (Monty & Me), premium-quality (WUMA! for dogs & Classic – for dogs and cats), super-premium (Karoo) and elite (Field +Forest) product ranges, as well as wet food, treats (Bags O’Wags) and sauces (Sauce for Dogs and Cats).