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Efficiency focus can ease demand on Eskom

MOTOR SCAN The performance monitoring solution for electric motors from Zest WEG

REDUCE DEMAND South Africa needs to address its power supply crisis by implementing more energy efficient solutions on an industrial level

24th January 2020

By: Tracy Hancock

Creamer Media Contributing Editor

     

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Zest WEG, the South African subsidiary of Brazilian motor and controls manufacturer WEG, has engaged local entities as well as the Embassy of Brazil to hold a roundtable in South Africa on energy efficiency early this year to encourage industry to use and promote energy-efficient products.

“We want the market to be flooded by energy efficient products by encouraging everyone to buy energy efficient products, even if they are manufactured by our competitors,” says Zest WEG group logistics and operations director Juliano Vargas.

South Africa needs to address its power supply crisis by implementing more energy efficient solutions on an industrial level to alleviate demand on State-owned power utility Eskom’s generating capacity.

Zest WEG believes that government is trying hard to address the power supply challenge hindering the country’s economy, but adds that certain aspects can be addressed to offer some relief in the short term.

Acknowledging that Eskom needs to become more self-sufficient, Vargas highlights the need to immediately extrapolate the use of high-efficiency electric motors and equipment across the country’s economy.

About 48% of the energy intensive users in South Africa are in the mining sector, a large user of electric motors, which account for 55% to 60% of the sector’s energy consumption.

An energy saving of sometimes more than 30% can be achieved when using a high- efficiency IE3 motor, depending on the range, when compared with a standard IE1 motor. This would enable Eskom to undertake maintenance and project developments to stabilise the current installed capacity and increase it gradually, states Vargas.

“To promote the procurement of more energy efficient equipment, government needs to develop regulations that ensure that all equipment entering the South African market – imported or locally produced – complies with certain minimum energy efficiency levels.

“Yes, an initial investment will be necessary, but the pay-back period will be quick, owing to the energy savings,” he comments, noting that an IE3 motor operating 24/7 will pay for itself in a couple of months for most ranges, as about 95% of a motor’s operating cost is related to energy consumption, when considering a five-year period.

Subsequently, the biggest concern of a mining operations manager – ensuring minimal capital expenditure and operational expenditure to increase profit – is addressed while reducing the pressure on Eskom’s generating capacity, says Vargas.

Motor Scan, the performance monitoring solution for electric motors from Zest WEG, can further improve efficiency in the mining industry.

The technology, which is available to the market, brings new functionalities and will be launched officially in March, along with other products, as part of the company’s fortieth anniversary celebrations.

“We have been very successful in introducing new products or variations of products for the mining industry because of its demand for reliability and efficiency . . . we understand the mining industry’s needs, but Industry 4.0 is going to be a game changer,” says Vargas.

Technologies, such as Motor Scan, may be intimidating to seasoned employees in the mining sector, but are not only for the benefit of their younger counterparts and can be easily incorporated by everyone once understood, he says.

Vargas explains that the sensor is plugged into a motor and measures various factors, such as vibration, temperature, power levels and energy consumption, to provide maintenance and operations technicians with real-time operating data.

The recorded data is sent to the cloud using WiFi or Bluetooth, subsequently allowing for analyses on the WEG Internet of Things Platform. Notifications around various operating parameters can also be set to provide warnings when they are exceeded.

Subsequently, technicians can evaluate the condition of various motors installed across a mining site faster and without leaving their office, benefiting from the improved ease of preventive maintenance and the elimination of unplanned downtime.

“Using this sensor saves time, money and increases reliability,” says Vargas.

A Bluetooth version of Motor Scan was launched in 2018 and interest in the product is increasing. It has been tested by some Zest WEG customers and the results are “extremely exciting”, he adds.

Consequently, some big corporations in South Africa are installing thousands of these sensors, which can also be applied to other products such as generator sets, notes Vargas.

“You can change the way you approach maintenance and monitor your plant. Instead of having people running around a site to address issues, you can direct them to specific problem areas.”

But skilled people are also needed, he highlights, adding that, as of October 2019, Zest WEG has achieved the milestone of 10 000 people trained on WEG products and solutions free of charge across its eight South African branches, which are located on the doorstep of mining operations.

Zest WEG is specifically training the youth from these mining communities to understand how to operate, maintain and monitor motors and other products using technologies such as Motor Scan to support its installed base.

This complements its engagements with mining clients to assist in their complying with Mining Charter III requirements.

“People are still getting used to the new requirements and logic of Mining Charter III, and most multinational companies are struggling to comply,” says Vargas.

He says compliance is tough, but feasible, and is a matter of time, patience and money: “If you don’t have time and patience, you are going to spend a lot of money. If you have patience and time, you can come up with a very economical solution”.

Through its local manufacturing, local- content compliance and Level 1 broad-based economic empowerment rating, Zest WEG is in an ideal position to help mining companies realise their compliance goals, Vargas advances.

Edited by Nadine James
Features Deputy Editor

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