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Industry celebrates OTTC’s 25th anniversary

Industry celebrates OTTC’s 25th anniversary

By John Ackermann
What a better way to celebrate a 25th anniversary than the unveiling of a life-size CO2 cascade training plant, a diploma graduation, presentations to sponsors, and hearty fare, with a large delegation of visitors from Germany, students, past students, and industry role players from across South Africa.

The OTTC training college, started in 1992 by Peter Döbelin in a small garage adjacent to his home, was also the first training institution in South Africa to have a life-size ammonia plant for its many students who have graduated with a diploma in ammonia refrigeration. The OTTC course is the only course offered in South Africa for ammonia service technicians.

CO2 plant
It took more than nine months for the new state-of-the-art R134a/CO2 cascade system to be built. The design, construction, and commissioning of the plant was done by Christian Richter of Germany, with the assistance of his father who has on occasion travelled to South Africa. Richter, a winner of the Euro Skills Competition, has also completed an OTTC Ammonia Diploma course during one of his stays at the college.

“The college is very grateful for the many companies, both locally and in Germany, that have sponsored all the components and material for the CO2 plant, which will benefit our many students, not only from South Africa, but also from neighbouring countries in sub-Saharan Africa,” said Isolde Döbelin before presenting each sponsor with a certificate of appreciation.

Twenty-five years and going strong
After Kurt Johannsen, OTTC trainer, presented his students with diplomas in ammonia and practical refrigeration, it was time to celebrate and think back on the past 25 years of the college.

“The college was started by my husband, Peter, to provide support to artisans and give them the skills needed to safely attend to all types of refrigeration and air-conditioning plants,” said Döbelin. “Peter’s expertise was highly regarded by his peers and he was passionate about refrigeration. He wanted all his students to follow in his footsteps and become masters in the art of refrigeration.”

“For the past 25 years, OTTC has strived to motivate our students to continue with a lifelong career towards the best possible level of expertise in practicing the art of refrigeration,” Döbelin explained. “As part of that motivation, OTTC has been strong supporters of the WorldSkills competition. Every South African refrigeration team since 1997 has had OTTC students.”

Döbelin went on to pay tribute to Andre Vermeulen, who has been South Africa’s national delegate at WorldSkills since South Africa’s first entry in 1995.

Bob Vuletic of Multistage Cooling has been a driving force in arranging national skills competitions, and since the 2007 competition held in Japan, he has been part of the refrigeration team as technical expert and judge. Döbelin added, “WorldSkills has not only motivated our students, but also developed stronger ties with our many loyal partners and supporters in Germany.”

“At OTTC, there has never been any compromise on the standard of training, and the new CO2 plant is another step towards excellence in training in refrigeration and air conditioning.”

A similar celebration was held on 20 August 1998 when the new OTTC training centre across the road from the home of Peter and Isolde Döbelin was officially opened. The large assembly hall, offices, and training rooms were built almost single-handedly by Peter and his assistant. Karsten Beermann of IKKE (Germany) and Willy Loffler of ThermoFin both attended that celebration, and it was heart-warming to have them at the 25th celebration.

Dedication to the industry
In June 1995, OTTC joined the South African Refrigerated Distribution Association (SARDA) and has since been a strong supporter at meetings and AGMs, held joint expos at the training centre, and hosted a cold store management course jointly, presented by the International Association of Refrigerated Warehouses (IARW).

“It was a sad day when Peter Döbelin passed away on 7 December 2002 after a short spell in hospital. The industry lost an icon and a master in refrigeration; he still wanted to do so much. Not a single student of his did not speak highly of him. Motivation and passion have often been spoken about as being strengths at OTTC, but it has a third strength,” John Ackermann said in his tribute to OTTC. “Tenacity has been a cornerstone of OTTC. Nothing ever got in the way of Peter, and Isolde has continued in the very same way. Everything that OTTC has achieved and the many students trained have been done with very little government aid, but with strong industry sponsors.”

“At OTTC, there has never been any compromise on the standard of training, and the new CO2 plant is another step towards excellence in training in refrigeration and air conditioning. OTTC is more than a training centre; it is an institution and a focal point of refrigeration in South Africa. May Isolde be granted many more years of good health to continue with all the good work done at OTTC,” Ackermann concluded.

Click below to read the July/August 2017 issue of Cold Link Africa

CLA JulAug 2017

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