December 14, 2017

EcoStruxure enables deployment of business driven, digital capabilities in mining

EcoStruxure for mining, minerals, metals is redefining power and automation technologies, making it easier to deploy business-driven, digital capabilities

In the second quarter of 2017, the South African mining industry expanded by 3.9% on the back of increased production of coal, gold and other metal ores such as iron ore and manganese ore. This is the second consecutive quarter of growth for mining, although production was more subdued than the 13.1% growth recorded for the first quarter of 2017.

A further driver for growth could be found in the digitisation of the industry, as for years the mining, minerals and metals industries have been confronted by operational complexity. The digital revolution could help address this complexity and provide a competitive advantage, yet many companies have not leveraged the new technologies available to make their operations more efficient.

According to Wilhelm Swart, Vice President for Mining, Minerals and Metals Africa Business, “The mining, cement, steel and glass industries face constant challenges that place a premium on operational excellence. There has been a significant transformation in digital technologies, which are available to help deal with many of these challenges. By leveraging this transformation, EcoStruxure for Mining, Minerals and Metals helps our customers improve how they manage their operations and plants to improve the bottom line.”

As a global specialist in energy management and automation, the company has announced ‘EcoStruxure for Mining, Minerals and Metals’, a new system architecture and platform that leverages innovative digital technologies and the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) to allow companies to seamlessly connect, collect, analyse and act on data in real time to improve safety, efficiency, reliability and sustainability.

EcoStruxure is Schneider Electric’s open, interoperable, IoT-enabled system architecture that leverages technologies in IoT, mobility, sensing, cloud, analytics, and cybersecurity to deliver what Schneider refers to as ‘Innovation at Every Level’, including connected products, edge control, and apps, analytics & services. It has been deployed in 450,000+ installations, with the support of 9,000 system integrators, connecting over 1 billion devices.

Core technology layers

EcoStruxure integrates innovation at three levels:

  1. Connected Products: Field devices with embedded intelligence, such as sensors, circuit breakers, meters, variable speed drives and process instrumentation, provide the link to real-time data that is essential to higher-level control and decision-making.
  2. Edge Control: Real-time and runtime control systems are connected to field devices and collect data from them, analyse current conditions against goals and past performance and make autonomous control decisions (or aid in operator decision-making) to improve process performance. At the heart of the edge control layer is the Modicon M580 Ethernet PAC (ePAC), the automation controller that uses open Ethernet standards to enable process efficiency, flexibility and cybersecurity.
  3. Applications, Analytics and Services: At the highest level of the EcoStruxure architecture, sophisticated problem solving and analysis is performed on an enterprise-wide basis to optimise business operations and maximise results. On this level, Schneider Electric provides an industry-leading portfolio of software and associated services, including:
    1. Advanced predictive analytics for process and equipment;
    2. leading-edge virtual and augmented reality for operators and maintenance personnel;
    3. energy/ process optimisation and simulation; and
    4. integrated operations, planning and supply chain management.

“With EcoStruxure, Schneider Electric is redefining automation and power connectivity, as well as adding an unprecedented layer of software applications and services to help our customers get the most of their assets. By bridging IT and OT, EcoStruxure enables them to maximise the value of data and translate it into actionable intelligence for better business decisions,” adds Swart.

Key benefits

EcoStruxure for Mining, Minerals and Metals provides benefit in three key areas:

  1. Digital supply chain: through solutions that integrate resource to market activities, inventory management, and operations and planning
  2. Next generation workforce: by providing technologies that attract and empower the next generation of workers and facilitate knowledge transfer, collaboration, situational awareness, mobility and remote operations efficiency
  3. Operational excellence: with solutions that optimise and stabilise process performance and reduce energy usage, thereby achieving the highest level of performance and reliability from critical assets

South African expertise, global benchmarks

“Schneider Electric recognises the importance of the mining, minerals and metals industries to the growth, employment and prosperity of South Africa and is committed to helping these industries face their challenges head on, through an integrated, scalable operations management platform, backed up years of experience and mining expertise. Schneider Electric offers complete mining production and operations optimisations solutions to help optimise the business value of every asset, to help the mining industry grow in a sustainable way, through local expertise and global benchmarking.

EcoStruxure is not just another platform limited to asset performance analytics. It is a complete set of digital technologies and applications that can improve the performance of the entire organisation, from people to operations to supply chain,” concludes Swart.

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