L A DUMA
EMERALD PRESTIGE TROPHY!
Message from the MD
Peter Starling, Managing Director
Just 4 months in and what a tumultuous year 2022 is proving to be. The war in the Ukraine has had a massive impact on global commodity prices which were already in an upward cycle as global economies started to recover following Covid lockdowns. South Africa is not immune to this and it is having an especially noticeable effect on the prices of wheat and maize. While South Africa is a net exporter of maize and does not import maize from the Ukraine, the increase in world maize prices results in the alternative export value increasing and therefore the domestic prices follow. Local maize prices are now approximately 30% higher than a year ago which puts pressure on production costs and ultimately these will ﬁlter through to the market. Locally, KZN suffered the worst ﬂoods in its history during April. The devastation, destruction and loss of life is overwhelming and has impacted every single one of us. It is going to take KZN a long time to fully recover and our thoughts and support are with all of those affected. Luckily AlcoNCP came through unscathed, in fact achieving record production levels in the weeks immediately following the ﬂooding. The performance and commitment shown by everyone at AlcoNCP, amid these traumatic events is, to me, the ultimate example of realizing AlcoNCP’s purpose, “inspiring the realisation of potential through relationships to achieve extraordinary outcomes”. We continue to optimize operations, with the metrics measuring our key drivers of volume, efficiency and quality moving in the right direction. This is a continual process, and while it is rewarding to see the progress, we know there is still plenty of opportunity for further improvement. In spite of, or possibly because of the surrounding turmoil, market demand for our products is good and further increases in production levels not only support this demand, but also somewhat offset the continually increasing input and logistics costs. We say farewell to Gary Bregovits and I would like to thank him for the dedication he has shown to AlcoNCP his entire career. He was part of the original management team when Alcogroup purchased AlcoNCP 21 years ago and his contributions have been invaluable. In an article in this issue of Laduma Gary makes a particularly telling observation regarding the concept of the Inﬁnite Game and our 152 year history. Considering the change we have undergone over the past 3 years with building and commissioning the maize plant, and the now unsettled environment of 2022, it is comforting to share his insight that AlcoNCP always continues to “play the game”. 2
AlcoNCP walks away with top honours at the Monde Selection World Quality Awards 2022 It was celebrations all-around when AlcoNCP’s High Purity Extra Neutral Ethanol was honoured with the prestigious Grand Gold Quality Awards 2022 by the Monde Selection, the world’s leading Quality Institute for consumer products. Dimitri Delloye, the managing director of Monde Selection, was the ﬁrst to offer his congratulations. “It is a remarkable accomplishment. Receiving the Quality Award demonstrates that the High Purity Extra Neutral Ethanol was able to satisfy the strict criteria of the jury.” AlcoNCP came out tops in 2022 when 3000+ products from more than a thousand companies from 90 countries were tested against stringent international quality standards. Not only was AlcoNCP awarded a Grand Gold for its 2022 entry, but also the Emerald Prestige Trophy for 40 years of consecutive awards.
This is an exceptional and continued excellent achievement and due recognition must be given to the operations and quality teams of AlcoNCP for their dedication and commitment to maintaining the high standards and expectations that have become our own benchmark. Since its ﬁrst participation in 1969, the company has been awarded no less than 104 Quality Awards spanning over 53 years from Monde Selection, demonstrating its commitment to the continuous quest for offering consumers their best quality. The prestigious Grand Gold Quality Award is for products having obtained an average result above 90%. Each product category is evaluated against speciﬁc quality criteria weighted according to the evolution of the consumer's expectations and the recommendations. Monde Selection is one of the world’s largest Quality Institutes that beneﬁts from an incomparable strong experience built since 1961. Ever since the sought-after Quality Awards have been the revered international seal of quality for producers from all over the world. Cover: Smangele Ngubane, panel operator, in front of the Distillery.
Massive team effort with new Dehydration Plant brings lucrative European markets in sight The attraction of an alternate market for potable alcohol, much sought after by the pharmaceutical and bio-fuel markets in Europe, was one of the main reasons for the commissioning of a new dehydration plant at AlcoNCP’s Durban facility. Project engineer Lumeshni Pillay can hardly contain her excitement about the new plant that replaced the aging aerosol plant and increased capacity from 15 kl per day to a massive 125 kl per day. “Construction was started in July last year with the demolition of the top distillery to make space for the new dehydration plant, located in the two most western facing bays. Cold commissioning ended in March 2022. Hot commissioning is now dependent on market conditions.” As an expert on the subject, it doesn’t take much for Lumeshni to explain the inner workings of a dehydration plant. “Alcohol strength cannot be increased above 96.4%v with conventional distillation methods, and this is where a dehydration plant does its magic, converting potable alcohol to 99.9%v. “Previously we used cyclohexane to form a ternary mixture for separation of the ethanol/water bond. The new dehydration plant uses adsorption by molecular sieves.”
Lumeshni is also quick to point out the valuable contribution of team members Kaylin Naidoo, Dineshree Pillay, Judy Somers, Shon Roopnarain, Sanele Mazibuko, and Lance Ethell, in collaboration with Sivest. “With every project we learn something new. This project brought to our attention some new ﬁre requirements for our alcohol tanks and the importance of a HAZOP. It further showed us that the value of water tests and cold commissioning must never be underestimated. During the cold commissioning process, several issues were resolved in preparation for hot commissioning. “I would like to convey a special thanks to all that have been involved in this massive project. I know it has been challenging at times trying to juggle the daily needs of the maize plant and shutdowns with that of the dehydration plant construction. I sincerely appreciate your hard work, commend your resilience, and thank you for your contribution in driving this project forward.”
STRONG TEAMS The Sustainability Compass is at the heart and soul of what AlcoNCP stands for and is geared towards taking the company into the future and cementing who we are, what we are about, and why we exist. Operations executive Stephen Kitching says the Compass is starting to have a deﬁnitive impact.
Excellence: We set uncompromising global standards in leadership, products, and service, challenging ourselves to constantly improve our performance.
Passion: We take extreme pride and have belief in what we do. Committed to making a difference.
Simplicity: We seek elegant solutions to complex issues.
Collaboration: We combine our individual talents and personalities to stimulate, excite and bring out the best in each other, creating partnerships to achieve sustainable solutions.
COMPLIANCE IS KEY Assisting the Risk and Compliance Manager with all things safety, health, environment, food safety and quality where compliance is concerned, is a huge responsibility. Despite it being a daunting task, the SHEQ Compliance officer at AlcoNCP, Dineshree Pillay, doesn’t shirk it one bit. When it comes to risk and compliance regarding her department’s output, she makes sure all the i’s are dotted and all the t’s are crossed. Dineshree explains risk and compliance as it pertains to lockout procedures, training, the ﬁre system upgrade, waste management and site security.
LOCKOUT PROCEDURE A new lockout procedure was introduced by Jonas Verpaele, Production Manager ALCO, during the most recent shutdown because of the large number of jobs that needed to be done in two days. Lockout means ensuring equipment is de-energised thereby preventing it from being energised or starting if someone is working on it. Lockout also prevents the discharge of material from product lines. It therefore requires that equipment, valves, electrical panel etc. are physically locked and tagged out. Normally lockout boxes are used to manage this, meaning keys of locks used to lockout equipment locks were put in a lockout box by the ﬁeld operator. But because there were 100 procedures that needed to be done in two days, the recommendation was made to use chains instead of boxes to manage the locking out of equipment safely and effectively. Production will use the chain lockout procedure again in July during the long shutdown because of the number of equipment and points that will need to be isolated. Utilities will continue to use the box system because they don’t have as much equipment to isolate, and it works well for them. Training to fully understand and comprehend the lockout procedure is of utmost importance. We did several lockout training sessions last year because it was a new system. It was a little bit of a challenge, getting people to buy into the concept of locking out and isolation, and what can go wrong. As a result, another round of training sessions was rolled out this year.
COMPLIANCE TRAINING Continuous training is paramount in the risk and compliance department as informed and educated staff are able to manage proactively safety. We do this by using internal and external trainers. One of the main focus areas, therefore, is the annual SHEQ induction which has been revised to include the hazards of the new plant. It has been rolled out for all employees. Safe work permit, risk assessment, hygiene, and spill training are also included as part of the required SHEQ training for employees. The annual training on ﬁreﬁghting and emergency preparedness is another important aspect we concentrate on. Two toolbox talks are sent out monthly to the SHE Representatives to further communicate the requirements, learnings and information on various aspects of SHEQ and Food Safety, The team at AlcoNCP responsible for being Food Safety System Certiﬁed (FSSC), consisting of heads of department and managers who also undergo implementation and awareness training. It is necessary for all employees of AlcoNCP to understand the importance of continuous training and the attending scheduled training sessions. The platform is there, it is your responsibility to attend. Training is your responsibility. Your safety is your responsibility. If you are not actively and consciously practicing safety, you're going to get hurt or hurt someone else. Incidents, injuries, and fatalities can occur in a split second, and then it’s too late to late to turn back the lock.
FIRE SYSTEM UPGRADE Despite it being a costly exercise and a rather big project, several upgrades to the ﬁre system is in place and on track to be implemented this year. These upgrades include: The CO2 suppression system for the turbine enclosure at the boiler house. Upgrades to the bulk loading deluge systems (the sprinkler system at bulk loading. The turbine oil deluge system at the boiler house. Upgrades to the drumming area deluge system.The feints loading deluge system.
WASTE MANAGEMENT The proper management of waste is of great importance for any factory, and AlcoNCP is no exception. Here we take cognisance of the solid and effluent waste. Regarding the factory’s effluent waste, we have an effluent plant where liquid this waste gets treated before it is discharged. The solid waste is handled through various waste streams, both hazardous and non-hazardous. With the new plant, this includes DDGS, WDGS (wet distillers’ grains and solubles) and maize waste. Some of the other waste streams include medical, chemical, ﬂuorescent tubes, oil, sludge and recycled waste. The recycled waste is separated further into different bins for the different recyclable waste streams, such as glass, cans, paper and plastic. Solid waste is sent to licensed waste disposal companies to ensure our waste is safely disposed of. It is important to note that it is all in line with our Trade Effluent Permit requirements, as well as our moral and ethical obligations to sustainability and the environment which requires strict compliance with environmental laws and regulations. At AlcoNCP we are making sure to manage all waste in a responsible manner, especially since there are legal requirements and permits that need to be adhered to. With a new plant, there are however some challenges but measures are in place to mitigate this.
SITE SECURITY Site security remains a high priority, especially at the gas station which is regarded as a high-risk zone. This is one of the main reasons we are upgrading our camera surveillance system this year. All analogue cameras will be upgraded to IP which will provide more functionality and clarity. Additional cameras will also be installed around the perimeter of the site, these will have “line-crossing” functionality which will allow us to detect intruders before they enter the site. A new system will also be implemented regarding access control and the identiﬁcation of employees, contractors, and visitors. The current scanners and access control system will be upgraded to facial recognition Units will be installed at various points in the plant, at entrances, and where access needs to be controlled. We have also done away with Ad hoc contractors and visitors cards. A printer linked to the scanning device allows for bar coded identiﬁcation stickers to be printed that will only be valid for a speciﬁc amount of time. This will reduce the resources required for the printing and the management of the cards. Permanent contractors and employees will have employee cards, this will make identiﬁcation easier as it will have to be always displayed.
Look out for these dangers when moving around site. Anyone moving around the site, whether it be around the factory or the offices, need to be aware of the following dangers: Slipping and tripping can cause serious injury and lead to disabling injuries. Flammable substances, including liquids, gasses, and chemicals. Moving machinery Vehicles. Always stop and assess the risk before proceeding with any task. Remember human behavior is always the last barrier before an incident occurs, no matter how many controls and safeguards are put in place, you make the ﬁnal decision to be safe. LADUMA
CLASS OF 2022
(Front) Shivan Maharaj (QAQC), Shalini Naidoo (Production), Chapi Elellwang (Production), Leeandra Sarjoo (Chem Eng) and Tinotenda Mathende (Mechanical). (Back) Andrew Mbambo (IT), Alisha Chetty (QAQC), Shailen Rai (QAQC), Noxolo Nkala (QAQC), Ayanda Ndlovu (QAQC), Londiwe Nyathi (Mechanical), Thando Mazibuko (Electrical) and Sphesihle Nyatikazi (Instrumentation)
AlcoNCP is extremely proud of our in-service training program that for decades has provided students in various ﬁelds the opportunity to complete their studies and obtain their respective qualiﬁcations. Many of these students have gone on to become permanent employees with long-service records spanning ten years and longer. Here’s to the Class of 2022 - may you continue to thrive and prosper!
SHOTGUN SHUTDOWNS Transitioning from a molasses plant to Africa’s ﬁrst large-scale maize ethanol plant in 2021, forever transformed AlcoNCP’s production of high-quality neutral alcohol for the food, beverage, cosmetic and pharmaceutical industries. It has meant the plant has had to run, in principle, without stopping. The only reason to bring proceedings to a halt is for necessary maintenance to be completed in the shortest time possible, with short shutdowns limited to between two and three days, as dictated by maintenance requirements. Morgan Murefu, the Engineering manager is the man at the helm of what has been dubbed “Shotgun Shutdowns” to ensure the factory continues to be a more environmentally, sustainable, and energy-efficient production plant. He says you have to get it right from the get-go. “It requires immense efforts at the planning stage in order to be able to execute a shutdown in two days. In all, the planning and sequencing of activities become very critical. “We also don’t wait for daylight; we work around the clock. We make use of contractors as our maintenance team is relatively small and we cannot stretch ourselves to cover everything.” Morgan acknowledges that the latest shutdown was a massive team effort as the change from a molasses to a maize plant, was a massive one. "The reality was we needed to embrace the change and accept ing mechanical engineerand that maize plant is different from the molasses plant. And the le) un' shutdowns are the Ready for our 'shotg mbi (right), Clinton Fredericks (midd challenge is that a lot of things that were done in a certain way team's Manqoba Gu before, now need to be done differently. Nkosi Maphosa. “Let's enjoy the change. I say to my team, when you we're going into shutdown, it's like a high-octane action movie.” Morgan is also quick to point out that a shutdown isn’t a substitute for daily and weekly maintenance routines. “When we drive a shutdown, it is absolutely necessary for those things which require the plant to be offline. When the plant is running, we can only do online maintenance. Everything has to be done in sync.” 6
It’s Good To See You Again! For the past two months, AlcoNCP Durban has once again been a hive of activity with the re-integrating of remote working employees. After the effects of the coronavirus pandemic necessitated drastic measures to curb the spread of the virus, it was a welcome relief to see the return of a majority of the workforce.
Monthly staff meeti ngs, TuneMe, are no w held in person in the Fire Station
The updated COVID-19 Level 1 lockdown regulations came into effect on 21 February. This meant all employees who were working remotely were required to return to the office at least three days per week. Mondays were designated compulsory office days. Thanks to the coordinating efforts of the various head of departments, the three-day in-office week were allocated accordingly to continue to adhere to the necessary rules and regulations.
mpany's 21st ke during the co ing birthday ca rt of the Alco Group in 2001. joy en a am Nz e ming pa Nelisiw tions since beco birthday celebra
REARING TO SAVE THE DAY – TURBINE NO.1 Just the mere mention of the words “boilers” and “turbine” sends Morgan Murefu, engineering manager at AlcoNCP, into overdrive. These pieces of equipment stand central to what drives the company’s operations. The two boilers and two turbines have enabled the company to produce its own electricity as well supply the grid in case of excess. No wonder it is labelled as the heart of AlcoNCP. Even though this is an astonishing feat, Morgan is still at pains to point out the difference between a boiler and a turbine. “A boiler is a group or pieces of equipment put together. We then have inputs of gas as energy, with water used to generate steam. It's a high pressure of 31 bar. This means it is 31 times the atmospheric pressure. The steam is used to turn the turbine which in turn generates electricity. “In a power-plant set-up, it’s possible to have more than Avril Chetty looking like a prou one boiler running one turbine, it just depends on the commissioned in March after d father at Turbine #1 which was successfully being out of service for 20 year s capacity. In our setup, we have got only one high-pressure boiler, which means it’s a case of one-on-one, one boiler to one turbine. The other boiler produces low-pressure steam which goes straight for process heating.” Morgan can't hide his pride with the successful commissioning of TA 1 during the last shutdown in March after being out of service for 20 years. “The main purpose for taking on that project was really to build spare capacity. As we all know, municipal power is very unreliable, and we can’t have that with our sensitive processes. It is important then for us to have spare capacity, so that if we've got issues on the TA 2, the turbine that we've been running, we can switch over to TA 1 while ﬁxing the issues and maintain stability.”
LOVE IS IN THE AIR! One can be forgiven if you think it’s “all work and no play” most of the time here at AlcoNCP, what with the seriousness of the business and the industry we operate in. Employees however came out in full force this year on Valentine’s Day (14 February), switching drab factory garb for items of pink and red. (Of course, all the time being cognisant of the required PPE safety regulations.) Everyone was invited to share their dress-up photos via email and WhatsApp to stand the chance of winning two Valentine’s Day Hampers (in support of Diabetes SA’s fundraising initiatives). Kiara Premlall and Xolile Mabaso were the lucky winners - congratulations!
WELCOME TO WELLNESS FRIDAYS! Since 1 April, every Friday at AlcoNCP has been dedicated as ‘Wellness Fridays’. This follows an increasing demand for more health and well-being discussion time with Sr. Ashnie Nair. Employees feeling the need to discuss their health or any concerns about their health can now make use of the AlcoNCP Clinic where Sr. Nair is available every Friday between 09:00-12:00. Sr. Nair will also make use of this additional clinic time to roll out any Employee Wellness Initiatives. She will however not perform any medicals on a Friday and only medical discussions will take place.
Xolile Mabaso (left) the sake of 'love' on and Kiara Premlall (rigth) striking a pretty pose for a fun Valentine's Da y
Sr. Nair and Dr. Leisegang will still be available on Mondays and Wednesdays.
THANK YOU, GARY! All good things must come to an end, and it is with heavy hearts here at AlcoNCP that we bid Gary Bregovits farewell as he retires after being part of the family here for more than 30 years. Thank you for your dedication and commitment to helping build the company to its current standing in the industry. You have been an integral part and will be greatly missed. We sincerely hope you enjoy this next chapter in your life, and remember, the door is always open for a visit! We’ll let Gary have the ﬁnal word as he looks back on his time at AlcoNCP. “I commenced work in January 1991. Back then, the plants were totally decentralised, each with an independent control room. Communication was conducted via phone, in-person meetings, and an internal postal system. “The rum plant was making a very good quality product, Mullets rum, that was matured in the cellar, under the supervision of Barry de Beer. An excellent gin concentrate was also produced which went into Gilbeys and Gordon's gin. “On my ﬁrst Friday at work, and I discovered every Friday thereafter, work ﬁnished at lunchtime, and the management team headed to the Glenwood Old Boys Club. That was the only one I attended, citing work commitments thereafter. “In the early nineties strikes were experienced and some operating staff was smuggled onto the site by way of the tunnel lining the N and S sites. “An interesting time was when we were requested to produce a light rum by Stellenbosch Farmers Winery. This necessitated a visit to the Caribbean to learn how to do it. We ultimately succeeded in producing an acceptable product which went on to achieve Monde status. It was a fun project as it involved a bit of science and a big chunk of art. “In the late 90’s there were many discussions around whether the Germiston or Umgeni plants would be shut down. Because of Umgeni’s proximity to molasses and the port for exports, it was the plant to remain. “The company was sold to Alcoﬁnance in 2001 and this led to us being quite independent but also provided the opportunity for growth with the expansion of the plant in 2004 to a rated capacity of 55 000 kls per annum. I then became accountable for operations on site. “Conversion of the boilers to gas in 2008 was a positive step and proved decisive when load shedding took place a couple of years later. The use of an electrode boiler had also been considered, but fortunately proved a bit more expensive. “Some developments in the period after 2010 included steady progress towards fulﬁlling our environmental obligations, improving health and safety, and improving plant efficiencies. “I will take the following standouts with me from my time with the company. “The culture, as people are encouraged to give their views and ideas and take ownership. The commitment to a safe environment and the commitment to provide learners with the opportunity to gain valuable experience. In this regard, a huge thanks must go to all the mentors. There is also a general desire to make things better. This is evident in the power of using teams to come up with innovative ideas to resolve problems. “The question has often been asked - How has the company managed to remain relevant for 152 years? I guess there is a number of reasons, but I would like to focus on this one. “The author and consultant Simon Sinek has recently revived the concept of inﬁnite games and I believe it has relevance to AlcoNCP’s endurance. “He likens businesses to being in an inﬁnite game, where the players, business models, and rules can change and where the ‘game’ has no end and therefore no winners, the objective being to ‘continue playing’. May AlcoNCP always ‘stay in the game’!
Published by AlcoNCP (Pty) Ltd - www.alconcp.com