SACAC Newsletter – August 2017| Download the SACAC Newsletter (PDF 2Mb)

Message from the President – Kobus Oosthuizen

SACAC’s focus for 2017 was the Control Conference Africa (CCA) – a conference which filled the historical Liliesleaf to capacity and attracted an exciting lineup of local and international delegates. Six plenaries were presented, varying from optimal control of a Formula One race car, to the treatment of diseases using a control-systems approach. Delegates were spoilt both on the technical and social aspects of the conference, despite some ongoing downpours. Proceedings are available online at IFAC-PapersOnLine .

Without the active participation of SACAC members, it would not be possible to host any of these high quality international events locally, nor would aspects such as industry participation, attracting researchers from other African countries or academic-industry collaboration receive the attention it deserves. All SACAC members and interested parties are encouraged to get involved in SACAC events, to identify opportunities and shortcomings, and to work together to shape MMM2019 to be another unforgettable event.

Past SACAC events

The South African Council for Automation and Control (SACAC) held its AGM on 23 February at the exclusive Forum Homini venue in Muldersdrift. This is the third year in a row that this pleasant rural venue has hosted us. We are pleased to announce the office bearers and EXCO.

Office bearers:

Mr Kobus Oosthuizen (Mintek) – President
Mr Alfred Schroder (Aurecon) – Vice President
Dr Derik le Roux (UP) – Treasurer /Honorary Secretary

Institution EXCO members:

Dr Lidia Auret (US)
Dr Deon Sabatta (UJ)
Ms Robyn Verrinder (UCT)
Professor Brian Wigdorowitz (Wits)

Business EXCO members:

Mr John Burchell (Lonmin)
Ms Rosalind Cameron-Dow (ABB)
Mr Rodney Grobler (Beckhoff)
Mr Louis Marais (Stone Three) Professor Margret Bauer (UP) (co-opted)

Congratulations to all EXCO members and a particular welcome to Ros and Louis who have not served on EXCO before. The new EXCO will have a year of consolidation, since no IFAC events are planned for 2018 and we look forward to creating continued benefits to each and every member in the year to come.

SACAC events

Control Conference Africa 2017

The first IFAC co-sponsored Control Conference Africa (CCA 2017) was held on the 7th and 8th of December 2017 at Liliesleaf Farm, Johannesburg, South Africa. Bringing all different directions of control together, CCA 2017’s main sponsor was the Technical Committee on Control Education (9.4) with Technical Committees on Optimal Control (2.4), Telematics (3.3), Chemical Process Control (6.1) and Automotive Control (7.1) being the co-sponsors.

Former IFAC president Ian Craig (South Africa) was the IPC chair and IFAC technical board member Bozenna Pasik-Duncan (US) the co-chair. Otis Nyandoro (South Africa) was the NOC chair and Samuel John (Namibia) the NOC co-chair. The event was supported by a strong South African team made up of Kevin Brooks as industrial chair, Derik le Roux, Robyn Verrinder and Margret Bauer as General Chair.

The event brought together more than 80 control engineering practitioners from African countries as well as Europe, Asia and the US. African participants from Nigeria, Botswana, Namibia, Mauritius, Zambia, Algeria, Kenya and Burkina Faso travelled to South Africa, highlighting the presence of control engineering experts on the continent.

Six invited keynote speakers gave a broad reflection of the different areas of control in the packed auditorium at Liliesleaf:

  • Tianyou Chai (Northeastern University, China) spoke on ‘Smart optimization control systems for energy-intensive equipment’ and gave an interesting insight into the Chinese automation community.
  • Thokozani Majozi (University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa) presented ‘A hunt in the Forest: Optimization and the Quest for the Global Optimum’, detailing his extensive research on the optimization of batch processes over the decades.
  • Bozenna Pasik-Duncan (University of Kansas, US) reflected on Stochastic Adaptive Control and the impact the discipline has on many aspects of life, from medical to telecommunications and finance.
  • Babatunde Ogunnaike (University of Delaware, US) gave an overview of Systems Biology of Diseases and the Design of Effective Treatment, motivating the audience to reflect carefully before designing experiments in the biomedical and other fields.
  • Guanrong Chen (City University of Hong Kong) presented new results on ‘Pinning Control and Controllability of Complex Dynamical Networks’.
  • David Limebeer (Oxford University, UK) in the last talk captured the audience with his talk on control problems in Formula 1 cars and ensured that the auditorium was packed at the end of the conference and for the following closing reception.In total, 48 regular papers and 13 posters were presented in 12 sessions.

SACAC, the South African NMO of IFAC organised two full day workshops prior to CCA2017. These were hugely successful and attended by more than 30 participants each, mostly from industry. The first workshop on the 5t h of December was titled ‘The A-Z of APC’ and was organized by CCA industrial chair Kevin Brooks and NOC member Derik le Roux. Talks were presented by seven local and international speakers. On the 6t h of December, Sirish Shah (University of Alberta, Canada), Babatunde Ogunnaike (University of Delaware, US), Lidia Auret (Stellenbosch University, South Africa) and Margret Bauer (University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa) presented on Process Data Analytics and the Design of Experiments.

CCA IPC co-chair Bozenna Pasik-Duncan organised a women’s lunch as part of the conference which was immensely popular and started a social networking platform.

After the resounding success of the first CCA, the organisers were asked to, and intend to repeat the event in three years time to establish a networking platform on the African continent.

Future SACAC events

Local activities

Please visit to view our current activities. Members are encouraged to contact us should they have any topics that they would like us to present brief talks, seminars or workshops on. You will note a few workshops are available on request on our activities page.

MMM 2019

As we have announced previously, South Africa has been awarded the honour of arranging the 18th IFAC Symposium on Control, Optimization and Automation in Mining, Mineral and Metal Processing, MMM2019 for short. The three-day event will be held in Stellenbosch from the 28t h to the 30t h August 2019, at the Wallenberg Research and Conference Centre of the Stellenbosch Institute for Advanced Study (Stias), which is located on campus.

The symposium will provide a forum for professionals, researchers, and experts in control, mining, mineral and metal processing to review state-of-the-art control, optimization, and automation technologies in the field. Processing areas covered may include:

  • Underground mining, including the use of autonomous mining equipment
  • Surface operations and beneficiation
  • Fault detection
  • High temperature operations
  • Ferrous and nonferrous metals

Technologies discussed will include:

  • Process modelling
  • Pattern recognition and vision systems
  • Fault detection
  • Control algorithms
  • The IIOT, Industry 4.0, big data andanalytics

The IFAC Technical committee 6.2 (Mining, Mineral and Metal Processing) is the main sponsor of the event with TCs 2.3 (Non-linear Control Systems), 2.4 (Optimal Control), 4.2 (Mechatronics Systems), 4.5 (Human-Machine Systems), 6.3 (Power and Energy Systems) and 8.3 (Modelling and Control of Environmental Systems) being co-sponsors. This diversity of interests demonstrates to what extent the MMM field is leaning on the skills of the control community.

SACAC is actively engaging with other institutions involved in mining, mineral processing and process control, to broaden the scope and to bring control and modelling technologies to the fore of the discussion around improvements in mining. Current work by the National Organising Committee includes the setting up of a website, firming up the budget for the event, making arrangements with the Papercept paper management system, preliminary thoughts on workshops and site visits. We are fortunate to have Professor Chris Aldrich (ex-Stellenbosch, now Curtin University in Perth) as the International Program Committee (IPC) chair, and Professor Biao Huang (University of Alberta) as vice-chair. They are supported by twenty-five IPC members, all experts in their fields.

We are expecting 80 to 100 delegates, and plan to have a first call for papers out by mid-year. Start preparing your papers for what is bound to be a great event!

Submitted by Dr. Kevin Brooks, SACAC EXCO


The International Federation of Automatic Control (IFAC) ( has 48 National Member Organizations (NMOs) of which there are two in Africa: one from Tunisia and one from South Africa represented by SACAC ( ). IFAC also has about 3,400 individual affiliate members that participate in the activities of the Federation and that receive the IFAC Newsletter. IFAC is tasked by its constitution to promote the science and technology of automatic control by organizing and sponsoring technical meetings, and through technical publications. IFAC sponsors about 85 meetings over a 3-year period, and organizes a World Congress once every 3 years. About 13,500 delegates participate in IFAC event during non-congress years. IFAC events are supported by a Technical Board that consists of 39 Technical Committees. To support its publications mandate, IFAC has eight high-quality journals published by its partner Elsevier. Publications generated by IFAC events are published in IFAC PapersOnLine which is hosted on Elsevier’s ScienceDirect platform. A distinguishing feature of IFAC PapersOnLine is its open-access nature: all papers can be downloaded for free.

IFAC has an awards programme that awards outstanding contributions in the field of automatic control. Five highly sought after awards are complimented by IFAC’s Fellow programme which selects a small number of IFAC Fellows every triennium. These awards are made at the triennial world congresses.

IFAC also has a Foundation which is registered in Zurich, Switzerland. The foundation has aims that are similar to those of IFAC. Currently the foundation supports young authors from developing countries to attend IFAC events, in particular the IFAC World Congress. Other activities include the selection and presentation of an award that recognizes contributions from individuals or group of individuals who, with their work, have shown how automatic control science and technology can contribute to significant advances in the broad area of “sustainable development”. Various regional courses are also supported in countries that do not have an IFAC NMO. The selection of the IFAC President is made together with the venue of the world congress such that the 3-year term of the president ends at the world congress for which he/she is responsible. The next IFAC World Congress will be in July 2020 in Berlin, Germany, with Frank Allgöwer as president, and the 2023 Congress will be held in Yokohama, Japan, with Hajime Asama as president.

Member update

SACAC would like to warmly welcome our new EXCO members, as well as those returning for a second term.

n his role as CEO of Stone Three Mining Solutions, Louis drives the vision and strategy of the business. He leads a skilled team of data scientists, enterprise software specialists, machine learning gurus and experienced process engineers to solve productivity pain points for the mining industry. Native to the Boland town of Paarl, Louis studied toward an Electronic Engineering degree at the University of Stellenbosch before starting a career that would span multiple industries over the last 20 years. In 2015 he completed his MBA in Executive Management at the University of Cape Town’s Graduate School of Business in 2015.

Stone Three Mining Solutions (Pty) Ltd is a complete solution provider of machine vision systems to the mining industry. Our products and services are underpinned by world class technical expertise based on more than a decade’s experience working with some of the largest mining houses in the world.

Rosalind is a Technical Manager working for ABB South Africa. ABB is a pioneering technology leader providing a wide range of products and services for various industry sectors including electrification products, robotics and motion, industrial automation and power grids, serving customers in utilities, industry and transport & infrastructure globally.

She graduated from Cape Technicon in 2000 with a Btech in Chemical Engineering, followed by a B.Sc. with honours in Process Control from the University of Pretoria in 2005. In her professional career she has worked for several small engineering companies where she was involved in engineering software development and implementation as well as for several large multinational companies (Honeywell, Engen, ABB) in both project and production\operations environments.

During her career she has gained experience in information and control system design, control system development and implementation, technical sales and tenders, procurement, contracts management, operations management, and technical project management. Her experience spans a wide range of industries including the petroleum industry, paper and pulp, metallurgical industry, power generation industry and the renewable energy industry (photovoltaic and concentrating solar power industry). SACAC is honoured to have Rosalind as a member of the Executive Committee for the 2018 year.

Stop Press

Sponsorships to attend IFAC events

The 5t h Workshop on Mining Mineral and Metal Processing (MMM2018) is one of the most prominent events on the calendar of process engineers. To enable employees and students of SACAC’s industrial or institutional members to participate in this international event, sponsorship money to the value of R22’500 is made available to send one SACAC member to the congress.

Application for sponsorship should be addressed to the SACAC Secretariat and contain the following information:

  1. Paper submitted to congress
  2. Proof of acceptance of paper
  3. Employer details (industrial member), or Supervisor details (institutional member).
  4. MMM 2018 gives notification of acceptance to authors on: 1 May 2018
  5. The deadline for applying for SACAC WC sponsorship is: 4 May 2018
  6. The sponsorships will be awarded by: 23 May 2018
  7. The deadline for final submission of papers and early registration is: 30 May 2018
  8. More information is available on the SACAC website