Technology provider ABB Southern Africa believes that digitalisation can address the production challenges of the sugar industry.
“The full potential of sugar production processes lies in leveraging available data to drive the seamless interoperability among people, assets and production processes,” ABB Industrial Automation Process Industries business head John Manuell tells Engineering News, adding that digitalisation helps to build a solid platform for process data collection.
He explains that this also addresses vertical integration by ensuring that process data is used for management decisions across the plant. Horizontal integration “plugs” the plant into the digital world, connecting suppliers and customers.
He highlights that, as sugar processing is an energy-intensive industry, it requires precise control and continuous reliability, especially during seasonal production cycles.
Along with energy savings, these digital solutions reduce maintenance costs, improve availability and enhance overall plant efficiency.
“Many known sugar brands globally turn to ABB with their requirements for leading global distributed control systems, measurement and analytics, energy efficient motors, variable-speed drives, manufacturing execution systems, process and production intelligence software, besides others,” Manuell enthuses.
The company’s footprint in the global and local sugar milling industry continues to increase, with more of its products and services being used to improve sugar- manufacturing processes.
“We are helping to make it possible to produce sugar in the most cost-effective manner with the highest efficiency. Through our robust and future-focused solutions, we are able to help revive the industry by replacing ageing infrastructure, which, in turn, results in reduced energy consumption in the agriculture sector.”
ABB can offer products and services, such as sugar plant automation and optimisation, control of plant emissions and a sugar control library, as well as the ABB Ability Manufacturing Operations Management software for the sugar industry.
For instance, sugar plant automation and optimisation involves the designing of process and batch control, electrical control, safety, logistics, information, predictive maintenance, asset management and digital transformation solutions.
“Globally, sugar mills are being modernised and automated in response to the vital need of more efficient production to compete internationally through integrating operational technology and information technology,” says Manuell.
Subsequently, the process of controlling plant emissions is done through the digitalisation of sugar plants, which can automate data collection about energy use and carbon emission levels across the entire operations. This, he says, assists managers in identifying areas for improvement and taking the necessary steps to reduce costs and emissions.
ABB's pre-engineered sugar control library for Distributed Control Systems delivers the precise handling of all the steps of the process and ensures consistent and high- quality sugar products.
Meanwhile, the manufacturing operations management software is a comprehensive, scalable and modular suite that helps production processes to become more responsive and adaptive by connecting the people, assets and systems involved from shop floor till enterprise level.
“ABB offers a big set of applications and solutions that help collect, integrate and analyse data from multiple plant sources, supply chains, applications and other sources to facilitate decision-making and improve production planning.”
Additionally, manufacturing flexibility, traceability and genealogy of manufactured products can be improved, he notes.
Further, as sugar producers are striving to provide competitive products, boost profit- ability and grow their businesses amid increasing globalisation and high product- development costs, these solutions can prove challenging, as sugar markets are becoming more complex.
This is why ABB strives to ensure that an installed base performs at its optimum level, which, in turn, fine-tunes products and systems to squeeze out every gram of efficiency, Manuell highlights.
He advances that the company is implementing its remote monitoring solutions on critical applications to improve product availability. This, he says, will lead to maximised performance, uptime and efficiency throughout the life cycle of clients’ assets.
“We understand the needs of the sugar industry and are committed to ensuring that ABB provides a quality service for business continuity. We are also committed to solving some of the biggest global challenges of our time and this is possible through the exceptional people who work, every day, for a better future. ABB drives a spirit of collaboration with no limits to what we can achieve together,” he comments.
To this end, ABB is constantly developing new solutions designed to address business challenges faced by industry, Manuell concludes.