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New tech boosts energy, operational efficiencies

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ENERGY ENABLER Schneider Electric has helped a notable miner in the Northern Cape to increase its energy and operational efficiencies, with further improvements on the cards

3rd February 2023

By: Halima Frost

Senior Writer


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A manganese miner in the Northern Cape, has reported a double-digit increase in energy and operational efficiencies since it implemented an Integrated Remote Operations Centre (iROC) designed by energy management and automation company Schneider Electric.

An iROC is an integrated operations facility that visualises the full value chain from rock face to loadout station.

Data is gathered from multiple sources including manufacturing execution systems, enterprise resource planning systems, plant and personnel tracking software, materials management systems and stockyard management software, to name just a few, and are presented in the form of key performance indicators (KPIs).

These KPIs enable decision-makers to best identify where operations can be optimised to improve planning and scheduling, and energy use, as well as decrease waste and mitigate possible downtime.

The ever-evolving project started in 2012 when the mine owners decided to embark on a mine modernisation project.

In 2015, the decision was taken to implement a central control facility at the miner’s surface operation for all the surface plants.

“The project has, consequently, morphed to include all three of the client's mining operations. “This includes all sections of the operation, shared services, underground, ore processing, ore transfer and loadout facility,” says Schneider Electric business development manager Craig Hudson.

He adds that the technologies introduced have moved the client from its older supervisory control and data acquisition system to a “Unified Operations” platform from technology provider AVEVA, which incorporates the client's exiting third-party systems.

Schneider Electric, the largest shareholder in AVEVA, together with the client, created a digital transformation solution that combines energy management, automation systems and services with leading-edge industrial software.

AVEVA’s industrial software extends Schneider Electric’s EcoStruxure Solutions to enable clients to maximise value from their assets and processes.

“Having the ability to merge the new AVEVA technology with ours, as well as open interfaces already in place, allows for one solution, which, in turn, maximises efficacy and ease of operation,” says Hudson.

The iROC and its technologies also allow for the accurate monitoring of KPIs and enable the client to make informed decisions based on current and historical data.

He explains that the KPIs cover energy monitoring; human, material and waste monitoring; and water-consumption monitoring and will, in the long run, include aspects such as fire prevention and protection, as well as infrastructure monitoring.

The concept of “On Time Data”, which takes real-time data, and contextualises and aggregates the data with historical data, was used to develop an accurate model for the client.

On Time Data aims to deliver the right information, to the right person, at the right time, ensuring the best possible decision is made.

This enables the client to “Save the Shift within the Shift”,” says Hudson.

Additionally, with ever-increasing safety concerns for people, the remote operability decreases the need for deploying people in potentially harmful areas of the mining operation.

The introduction of leading-edge technology at mines is reigniting interest from the youth, in terms of perceiving the mining sector as a viable vocation.

“Being able to design, programme or drive autonomous vehicles, and use information technology as opposed to being at the rockface has a definite appeal to the youth,” he adds.

Hudson concludes that technology and the way in which companies are doing business is changing, and Schneider is at the forefront of implementing these technologies in industrial and mining applications.

Edited by Nadine James
Features Deputy Editor



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