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Schneider Electric innovations shine in Germany

In an ever-changing digital world, for everything from new business models and new consumer technologies to new infrastructure, energy and power systems – the digital transformation is inescapable. The fourth industrial revolution, or smart manufacturing, has accelerated the move to digital technologies that offer a competitive advantage to every company and every geographical zone that adopts them.

Augmented reality, IoT, IIoT, machine learning and predictive maintenance are making companies more efficient and innovative, boosting their competitive advantage. Schneider Electric, the global leader in the digital transformation of energy management and automation, recently took to Hannover Messe 2018, the world’s leading trade show or industrial technology, in Germany to showcase its latest innovations for industrial companies.

As energy and automation develop into a more digitally connected environment, these new technologies are capable of ensuring that power-sensitive automation equipment remains operational, boosting power reliability and cost savings by improving the speed and accuracy of the processes they are tasked with.

Bridging the divide between complexity and human capabilities by using control devices and technology for automated operation and control, digitisation allows for better support and faster decision making by providing operational insight, encouraging efficient use of resources to maximise assets and production output, simplifying tasks, and integrating the implementation of plant strategies.

“At Schneider Electric, we believe that integrating power and automation systems through IoT has the potential to bring together the best features of both systems, enhancing processes while introducing safer, more reliable, efficient, sustainable, and connected power,” Marc Ramsay, Vice President for the Industry Business Unit, Schneider Electric South Africa.

As the leader in powering and digitising industry, Schneider Electric is uniquely positioned to drive the digital transformation of today’s growing industrial automation markets and assist industrial customers in their conversions. Significant changes are fundamentally accelerating this movement in the industrial space.

“With EcoStruxure for Industry, Schneider Electric offers a truly unified engineering approach that can be deployed across multiple industrial segments. Leveraging our unique partnership with AVEVA, we can offer an unmatched set of solutions covering all aspects of digital asset management from process simulation to design, construction and manufacturing operations management and optimisation,” Ramsay said.

Schneider Electric’s EcoStruxure for Industry offers open, interoperable, IoT-enabled system architecture and platform, where users benefit from enhanced value around safety, reliability, efficiency, sustainability, and connectivity.

Leveraging all advancements in IoT, including mobility, sensing, cloud, analytics, and cyber security through connected products – Edge Control, Apps, Analytics and Services, EcoStruxure has been deployed in over 480,000 sites worldwide.

“With the support of 20,000 system integrators and developers, EcoStruxure currently has 1.6 million assets under management, and that figure is expected to grow by 25% year-on-year for the foreseeable future. This figure ties in with Accenture’s recent report, citing that at present, 64% of executives believe that a failure to leverage digital will cause their companies to struggle for survival,” says Marc Ramsay, Vice President for the Industry Business Unit, Schneider Electric South Africa.

Strengthening their commitment to digitising industry, Schneider Electric also unveiled EcoStruxure Machine Advisor during a presentation at Hannover Messe, 2018.

EcoStruxure Machine Advisor now make it possible to track, monitor and fix machines in the field while reducing support costs by 30 to 50%.

“Where managers struggle to track the history of the many machines that fall under their scope of responsibility, or when parts need replacing, production is interrupted, and the downtimes are much too long. Maintenance technicians often spend far too much time attempting to locate different sets of documentation before they can begin productive work on fixing the machine. Schneider Electric’s recent breakthrough with this new technology is now directly addressing these challenges by providing new ways of both gathering, centralising and displaying machine-generated data.”

About Schneider Electric 

Schneider Electric is leading the Digital Transformation of Energy Management and Automation in Homes, Buildings, Data Centers, Infrastructure and Industries.

With global presence in over 100 countries, Schneider is the undisputable leader in Power Management – Medium Voltage, Low Voltage and Secure Power, and in Automation Systems. We provide integrated efficiency solutions, combining energy, automation and software.

In our global Ecosystem, we collaborate with the largest Partner, Integrator and Developer Community on our Open Platform to deliver real-time control and operational efficiency.

We believe that great people and partners make Schneider a great company and that our commitment to Innovation, Diversity and Sustainability ensures that Life Is On everywhere, for everyone and at every moment.

For more information, go to www.schneider-electric.co.za.

Manufacturers benefit from cost-saving measures in a slow economy

There is a clear business case for investment in organisational sustainability – smart adaptations that save manufacturers money while cleaning up their environmental act – when slow growth releases pressure on the production line.

Sustainable production: a global issue

Increased demand and technical advances over the last century raised production levels, often with very little consideration for the environmental ramifications. This century is a watershed, where population growth, consumption patterns and production methods threaten the natural system that has buttressed our road to social and economic wealth.

Environmental policy revision, corporate reform and consumer activism share the objectives of accountability and sustainable development. A greener global economy requires industrial development that assures economic growth and increased standard of living, whilst at the same time reducing resource use, pollution, waste and its impact on nature and communities.

The business case: industrial sustainability in Africa

A taxing economic climate fuels the urgency to sharpen any organisation’s competitive edge, thereby liberating resources for investment in growth and job creation. South Africa’s Department of Trade and Industry (the dti) believes Africa’s growing domestic markets – 1 billion plus consumers – must be served by boosting local manufacture and free trade.

With African manufactured output doubling over the last decade, the pressure is on for local producers – big contributors to carbon emissions and massive users of water and energy resources – to realise the investment opportunities presented by improved efficiencies in energy and water conservation, waste and GHG reductions.

International and South African authorities have put attractive incentives and support mechanisms in place to aid manufacturers keen on investing in positive change. In short, it is prudent to ‘clean house’ while the economy is slow.

Support mechanisms: industry aided

The United Nations’ Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO) and Environment Programme (UNEP) have been establishing national cleaner production centres (NCPCs) in developing economies since 1994. These NCPCs roll out resource efficiency and cleaner production (RECP) programmes that equip emerging economies with improved competitive technologies sensitive to best-practice environmental and natural resource use. So far, RECP programmes exist in 47 developing and transition countries to harmonise productivity, environmental and social imperatives. The network, known as RECPnet, provides a useful platform for sharing success stories, policies and best practices.

In South Africa, the National Cleaner Production Centre of South Africa (NCPC-SA) is funded by the dti as its key industrial sustainability programme for the manufacturing industry focused on energy, water and materials efficiency, as well as waste management.

The NCPC-SA actively engages producers on resource efficient business practices, and offers support through in-plant assessments and training programmes using the RECP toolkit.

RECP assessments are carried out at participating companies targeted using a sector approach, aligned to government’s Industrial Policy Action Plan (IPAP). The process includes energy, water and material assessments to gauge current consumption levels and opportunities for reduction; as well as waste assessments, to benchmark existing waste generation against reduction targets.

Proven cost savings: material drop in energy use

By implementing innovative energy-saving measures, resource-intensive manufacturers find that they can meet the growing demands of consumers for more and cheaper goods, whilst migrating to cleaner production processes and methodologies, reducing their carbon footprint and liberating capital for investment in growth.

This is not pure theory, with many South African success stories in the bag. Businesses adapting in a timely manner through innovative and more efficient methodologies have demonstrated remarkable resilience by developing new business models that recognize the need to do more with less.

Profitability: a steamy return on energy investment

Stanger-based manufacturer Gledhow Sugar Company runs a factory 24/7 nine months of the year to process 1.5 million tons of sugar cane into refined white sugar, fibre for paper production and molasses.

Although Geldhow generates enough steam power for internal use by burning coal and bagasse during harvesting, the factory relies on electrical power from the local municipality out of season, three months of the year.

In 2011, Gledhow Engineering Manager, Barry Parkin, commissioned the NCPC-SA’s Industrial Energy Efficiency (IEE) Project to conduct a baseline study into the factory’s energy and mass balance, keen to improve the factory’s energy efficiency, reduce
the amount of coal used and to increase profitability.

Numerous opportunities were identified to improve Gledhow’s steam distribution network, leading to improvements in thermal insulation, boiler controls and the introduction of a steam trap and steam leak maintenance programme. This saved the company R500,000 in energy costs during 2012 alone!

Gledhow invested R210,000 into cleaner production methods, which included courses in energy management; motors; and steam, compressed air and fan system optimisation for the engineering manager, mechanical and electrical engineers, and electrical technician. After attending the courses, the engineering team were equipped to actively champion energy optimisation technologies and initiate energy optimisation projects at the factory, with the tools and insight to ensure success.

Because the investment cost was recouped within six months, Gledhow possessed capital to invest a sizeable R2,25 million into four more energy-saving projects during 2013. This year, Gledhow also installed soot blowers and automated boiler blow down systems on its coal-fired boiler.

To boot, Parkin not only became on of the country’s first Expert Level Steam Specialists, but Gledhow now operates as a Training Host Plant with the IEE Project, fast-tracking advanced energy efficiency implementation for future gain.

As a spin-off, improved energy efficiency may enable GSC in future to bid for renewable energy cogeneration in the Department of Energy’s Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer (REIPP) Procurement Programme.

Put your energy behind smarter savings

The Industrial Energy Efficiency Project (IEE Project) teaches South African industries how to use available energy resources more productively, so that energy-intensive industrial stakeholders (such as mining, automotive, metals, chemicals and agro-processing plants) can implement and optimise energy management systems.

Now in its fourth year, the IEE Project (run by the NCPC-SA, in collaboration with UNIDO) focuses on implementation of energy saving interventions and training energy experts to drive and manage the processes.

To date, 31 experts have been trained and 111 more are undergoing expert level training in energy management systems (EnMS) and/or energy systems optimisation (ESO) – the optimisation of energy systems, including fan, motor, steam, compressed air and pump systems.

An increasing number of companies are signing up as demonstration plants, where energy experts practice their newly acquired skills, implementing energy efficiency interventions that result in substantial energy savings and carbon emission reductions.

To date, EnMS and ESO interventions at demonstration plants have resulted in energy savings of over 270 GWh, which translates into a cost saving of R 229 million and carbon emission reductions of almost 255 000 tons of CO2.

Incentivising savings: return on investment

To support industrial sectors in enhancing their competitiveness and job creation targets, the South African government offers a suite of incentive schemes to bolster cleaner and more resource efficient production with financial support. The dti’s Manufacturing Competitiveness Enhancement Programme (MCEP), launched in May 2012 as a key driver of the Industrial Policy Action Plan (IPAP) 2012/13 – 2014/15, helps manufacturers to upgrade their production facilities and methods through one of two mechanisms, co-managed with the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC):

• the Productivity Incentive (PI) and

• Industrial Financing Loan Facilities.

In granting financial assistance for new technology and advanced manufacturing, the dti makes sustainable transformation more accessible to companies, particularly small and medium enterprises, in sectors under threat from international competition, low margins and increased compliance requirements.

Call to action: the buck starts here

For South African industry to compete in an increasingly environmentally aware global marketplace and on a Continent geared for growth, local companies cannot afford to exclude resource efficiency and cleaner production from their business mandate. And in the face of increasing energy and resource prices, efficiency is now a business imperative – not a nice-to-have…

By committing to implementing sector-relevant adaptations and by increasing awareness among employees and supply chains of this imperative, manufacturers can realise substantive downstream business opportunities – not only in garnering customer and industry reputational mileage, but tangible financial benefits at this time while the focus and feasibility for change is at its greatest!

Energy efficiency industry created to the detriment of entrepreneurship

It is becoming more evident daily that we are experiencing an energy efficiency entitlement epidemic, where hand-outs are expected.

So writes Yolanda de Lange of Energy Cybernetics: Eskom DSM and similar energy efficiency ‘assistance-type’ programmes has in my opinion, in a majority of companies, created a culture of expectation, even before initiatives are taken to implement energy efficiency projects.

No sustainable mind-shift

The DSM approach, whilst creating significant awareness and being overwhelmingly successful to ensure the lights stay on when  needed – has not actually created a sustainable mind-shift. But it did what it had to do when it had to do it.

Yes, an ESCO and energy ‘expert’ market quickly mushroomed when Eskom DSM started their programmes. Now that DSM is gone, most of these knowledgeable companies and skills that have been developed are virtually ‘hanging in the air,’ so to speak, and are struggling to make ends meet.

What’s in it for me?

Industry is just not as keen to embark on energy efficiency projects, as they are not able to “get something out of it”, other than the savings. ESCO’s and other energy consulting-type firms and entrepreneurs that relied on the DSM programme have had to become very creative in changing their offerings to be able to successfully quote for jobs.

On a daily basis we receive enquiries at the Energy Training Foundation (EnTF), and of late the questions asked have moved from mere, “What is the course about?”, followed by a booking or not, or, “Where can I buy product ‘X’?”, or helping to find a Certified Professional for a project; to in the last few months me feeling like a career guidance officer brainstorming with enquirers as to how they can use their training or qualification they received from the AEE to get business in.

Yes, there are some tenders out. Some emulating another ‘assistance-type’ solution to clients, but this energy industry is a tough one, which is the backbone of the ‘green skills’ and environmental jobs the government wants to grow. Tenderers are finding that they have to tender and quote to the bone, offering lean quotations, whilst having to cover increasing expenses to keep businesses afloat.

No holistic focus on sustainable energy management

Is the problem not that the real benefits of sustainably implementing energy management to ensure continuous energy efficiency with all the related benefits have not been the focus, but rather one project at a time? Offering a client a properly constructed energy management plan is the only way one can make sure the project(s) that have been implemented remain optimal in delivering what the client needs, and more importantly, it gives the energy market a lot more credibility than just churning out once-off projects.

Besides enabling South Africans to become internationally qualified as energy professionals through the Association of Energy Engineers (AEE), at the EnTF we are passionate about making sure companies get started correctly so they can continuously benefit from optimal energy management. Which is why we believe ISO50 001:2011 Energy Management System standard is the only way to go – whether it is for Certification purposes, to ensure that continuous benefits from energy efficiency improvements are gained. We offer workshops where we have skilled staff to get you going towards ISO50 001 in three full days, in which all your key staff participate and so understand the journey your company needs to be on to become truly sustainable.

Maximum savings targets for sustained long-term return

This approach provides the client with enough information to make informed decisions to implement an energy management policy and plan according to a standardized approach. This in order to set and meet maximum energy savings targets and achieve sustained long-term and maximum return on any energy efficiency and renewable investments. After the session the client will have a clearer understanding of:

  • What needs to be done on the site to achieve optimal energy management
  • Where energy could be saved at significant energy use areas
  • Estimates of what energy savings could be expected
  • What needs to be further investigated for more accurate energy saving targets
  • Who needs to be trained and to which level
  • Which services would need to be outsourced
  • Which services could be catered for in-house
  • How much needs to be invested in the short, medium and long-term
  • Which technologies and retrofits need to be considered
  • Which incentives and rebates could be pursued
  • What is required to continuously save energy

For course dates for next year, please click here.

Source: The Green Times