Process control and automation software developer Wonderware reports it is providing critical software required for the expansion of ferroalloys producer Assmang’s Khumani mine, in the Northern Cape, which is expected to be operational by early next year.
This contract follows an initial software provision contract for the greenfield Khumani mine, in 2008.
Certified Wonderware system-platform integrator Iritron was contracted by managing contractor DRA Mineral Projects during the initial 2008 greenfield project to establish a supervisory control and data acquisition (Scada) system for the new mine.
Iritron implemented the Scada system, using the Wonderware system platform, which is based on its ArchestrA technology. This technology enables the rapid integration and expansion of the various operations of a mine.
The platform was specified by DRA’s project team to be fully integrable with the systems engineering, instrumentation design, programmable logic controller (PLC) system design, network design, implementation and commissioning of the plant.
With the mine’s expansion, DRA was again appointed managing contractor and Iritron chosen to implement the Scada system for the expansion, using Wonderware.
“One of the main advantages of the system platform is its scalability, flexibility, and ease of expansion, once standards and templates have been developed for a specific application. In this case, the standards and templates that were developed during the initial phase of the project could be reused for all the new plant sections,” Iritron director Johann Pienaar says.
The mine’s existing system platform was expanded by adding two application object servers, and six additional InTouch View nodes in the new plant sections.
Pienaar says that the initial software development made the expansion much easier, owing to the previously developed standards simply being exported to the new sections of the platform.
“All that was required was to simply create new instances of the existing templates for the motors, valves, conveyors, crushers, screens and other equipment that had to be added. No testing and integration was required, owing to the templates having already been thoroughly tested in the initial phase. This also applied to the PLC programmes,” he says.
Further, as a result of using existing templates enabled by the underlying ArchestrA technology, the Scada development for the extension took less than 10% of the original development time and effort, while Khumani’s expansion project is about half the size of the original project.
“It is important for modern installa- tions to be able to accommodate expansion with the least amount of development work necessary. With Wonderware, the system was proven to be readily adaptable, and remains so, for possible future expansion projects,” Wonderware MD Deon van Aardt notes.
Meanwhile, the standards duplication feature of the software has been demonstrated through the standardisation of control systems for brewer South African Breweries (SAB). Van Aardt says SAB has been using the software platform for more than 15 years.
“The brewer reports that it managed to significantly improve its engineering efficiency at all its operations across the country by employing a uniform process control and information interface.”
He explains that a great deal of engineering time goes into configuring each individual system for upgrades or repairs. Further, where traditionally a systems expert was stationed at each brewery, the skills short- age in the country makes this difficult, emphasising the need for systems standardisation.
As with the expansion of the Khumani mine, the various standards are packaged into separate templates, and exported to all the company’s operations.
Van Aardt says the SAB systems standardisation project was started in 2003 and is ongoing.
He also points out that companies using the software system are entitled to continuous support and upgrades, while Wonderware also offers to upgrade original software at any stage.
Van Aardt says Wonderware is used in about one-third of all process plants globally. It provides process control software to mines and industries, enabling operators, process engineers and senior management of plants to comprehensively visualise the plants and processes under their control.
Meanwhile, the company has launched a new software suite called Wonderware Intelligence, which combines all parameters in a particular plant, or many plants, and provides visualisation on a central control board, from where real-time information may be drawn and processes controlled.
The software suite makes use of a user- friendly Web-based dashboard, and is accessible from anywhere in the world, with the appropriate access privileges. “This tool is useful in providing context to relatively disparate information sources, and helps to place these in perspective,” he explains.
Although the system has been in devel- opment for some time, all its separate components have now been combined and launched as the Wonderware Intelligence software suite at the end of last year.
It uses a drag-and-drop interface, which makes it easy to select various data sources to be combined, as well as to select the desired information output.
“This software is all about business intelligence. It gains the information from real-time data systems and human input and correlates it into a single database, from where operators and management can draw reports,” Van Aardt concludes.