Twenty-eight final-year students of the Department of Mechanical Engineering offering Thermal and Fluid Systems Design course visited Kgalagadi Breweries Limited (KBL) for a study trip on the fluid and thermal systems in the plant on September 1, 2023. The team was led by Prof Kevin N. Nwaigwe, the course lecturer for Thermal and Fluid Systems Design.
Botswana-based Kgalagadi Breweries Limited manufactures beverages. It is a division of one of the biggest brewing corporations in the world, AB InBev. Kgalagadi Breweries Limited, founded in 1970, produces bottled water, soft drinks, lager beers, and traditional beers. A lot of the processes in KBL involved the use of thermal systems and the conveyance of fluids at elevated temperatures.
The industrial trip was an incredibly insightful and educational experience for the students. It provided a firsthand glimpse into the practical applications of thermal fluid systems in real-world industrial settings. One of the most striking aspects was witnessing the scale and complexity of the equipment involved. From boilers and heat exchangers to pipelines and control systems, every component played a crucial role in ensuring efficient heat transfer and fluid circulation. It was impressive to see how these intricate systems worked together seamlessly to meet the specific needs of the facility. The students gained a deeper appreciation for the interdisciplinary nature of thermal fluid systems. It became evident how principles of thermodynamics, fluid mechanics, and control engineering converge to optimize the performance of these systems.
The trip also offered a unique and in-depth look into the intricate process of beer production, from raw ingredients to the final product on the shelves, including the meticulous attention to detail that goes into every stage of the brewing process - from the careful selection of malted grains, hops, water, and yeast to the precision in temperature control during mashing and fermentation. Witnessing the skilled brewers in action, passionately overseeing each step, highlighted the expertise required to produce high-quality beer.
The interaction with industry professionals and experts was invaluable. They shared their extensive knowledge and experiences, offering unique perspectives on design considerations. Their passion for the field was palpable, and their willingness to answer questions and provide insights greatly enriched the learning experience for the students. Overall, this industrial trip was a transformative learning opportunity for the students.
In a vote of thanks, Mr Patrick Motshubi, one of the students, thanked KBL for the opportunity provided to them to match their theoretical knowledge with field experience. He requested KBL to make provisions for internships for Mechanical Engineering graduates for a deeper field experience in thermal and fluid systems. In their response, KBL harped on the need for a more collaborative relationship with the Faculty of Engineering and Technology. They requested that processes leading to a memorandum of agreement be initiated, to deepen the cooperation. The industrial visit was facilitated by Mr. Mmoloki D. Matlhola (Projects Manager, KBL), Ms. Katlego Tauejele (People Graduate Trainee, KBL), and Mr. David Sedupane (Chief Technician, Department of Mechanical Engineering, UB). The visiting students were accompanied by technicians from the Department of Mechanical Engineering including Mr. David Sedupane, Mr. Bathata Montshiwa, and Ms. Tahwa Peter.