ELB Engineering Services is excited to be involved in the construction and digitalisation of the 200 t/h dense media separation (DMS) plant at Sedibeng Iron Ore, near Postmasburg, in the Northern Cape, says CEO Dr Stephen Meijers.
Meijers explains that the project aims to incorporate Industry 4.0 technologies that will include sensors and instrumentation to allow for machine learning (ML) and eventually artificial intelligence (AI) technology by integrating the existing programmable logic controllers and supervisory control and data acquisition units.
In addition to supplying and installing the front and back-end equipment for the DMS plant, ELB will overlay Internet of Things (IoT) technologies such as sensors and cameras to reveal Big Data sets, which will be presented in a dashboard platform, ensuring the capability of advanced process controls and predictive maintenance control.
The Sedibeng digitalisation project is split into three phases, and ELB is currently progressing through Phase 1, focusing on collecting data on the metallurgy and quality of ore, the efficiency of the cyclones, power consumption, and noise and vibration measurements of all moving equipment, as well as the consumption of reagents and consumables.
By using the Big Data set, ELB is able to run analytic profiling. Phase 2 comprises the assessment of those analytics, where we will be able to see the exact benefits of plant optimisation by creating a ‘digital twin’, from where we can move to automated control, which will follow in Phase 3.
Before ELB starts any aspect of implementation, it does a prestudy determine whether there is a business case.
ELB worked with Sedibeng previously and the companies have a good cultural alignment. The trust that developed through these prior engagements smoothed the way for ELB to offer a next-generation technology solution over and above its engineering offering.
“Sedibeng is a client that embraces new technology and new ways of doing things, which has complemented ELB’s realisation that it has to embrace and exploit disruptive technology,” says Meijers.
He notes that, at project award, which was done on a performance specification on the DMS plant, ELB also discussed the possibilities of making Sedibeng the ‘mine of the future.’ Thus, ELB has considered a lot more analytical measurement technologies than what is required for the plant, as Sedibeng will be used as a ‘digitalisation alpha site’.
The digital twin, which is a combination of IoT, AI and ML with regard to collection, collation and correlation of data and the use of analytics, will ensure the company derives the most effective outcome for Sedibeng, going into the next generation.
ELB is an internationally recognised solutions provider to the mining, power, ports, construction and industrial sectors. Meijers says this is achieved through ELB-generated innovation, the supply of equipment and technology from world-class partners, in-house-developed expertise and integration of the services and products from the ELB group of companies.