Software company helps manufacturers face industry challenges

3rd May 2013

By: Gia Costella


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The pending environmental legislation regarding carbon tax, as outlined in the National Treasury’s discussion paper on carbon tax, intended to curb harmful emissions, will add to the difficulties that South African manufacturing companies are facing with regard to the accurate recording of activities, says local software developer Live Monitoring.

The tax is scheduled to come into effect from January 1, 2015, at a proposed rate of R120/t of carbon dioxide equivalent. It will increase at a rate of 10c/t a year during the first phase of implementation, states the 2013 Budget review. A basic tax-free threshold of 60% is proposed, as well as offset percentages of 5% to 10%.

An updated policy paper was scheduled for publication by the end of March for further comment and consultation.

Live Monitoring operations manager Roger Fraser says manufacturing companies in South Africa already face increasingly difficult trading conditions, owing to a depressed economy and rising input costs, which necessitates getting the most out of assets and plant equipment.

“Companies that do not take heed of the pending carbon tax will find the additional monthly levy adds another burden to their already stretched budgets,” he says.

Live Monitoring, which specialises in the development of real-time production- as well as asset-, power- and related manufacturing software that accurately records a company’s activities, has developed numerous monitoring applications, which it says have been successfully deployed in South African manufacturing industries, including the moulding, printing and textiles industries.

“Some clients have indicated an 11% improvement in production efficiency and managed to achieve return on investment in a matter of months,” says Fraser.

To aid manufacturers in monitoring their emissions and implementing adequate control measures to meet the requirements of reducing their exposure to the pending carbon tax, Live Monitoring is completing the development of its latest product, GreenMon. The software will provide users with real-time carbon emissions data and is expected to be available later this year.

GreenMon uses Live Monitoring’s flexible IPMon platform, which is also being expanded to record water-consumption data, which will feed into GreenMon for environmental-impact reporting, says Fraser.

Live Monitoring’s products also include the patented Produmax, a tool that assists companies in improving manufacturing efficiencies, reducing downtime and visualising production data in real time.

“This visual performance management system that enables manufacturers to monitor production processes in real time also enable operators and management to view their efficiency and adjust or report challenges as they occur. The data is logged for historical analysis and reporting. This enables the bridging of manufacturing processes between the shop floor and the management processes – a link that is often overlooked in the manufacturing process,” says Fraser.

He notes that the real-time feedback channel provides management with better insight into problem areas and offers further improvements on processes allowing problems to be rectified before they affect downstream production.

Fraser adds that the display consists of a linear graph that includes historical and current machine performance and it uses colour coding to represent machine status during the monitored periods.

PowaMon is a live power-consumption data- collector, billing, alerting and reporting engine that assists companies in visualising power consumption, setting goals and alerting users to issues.

“PowaMon is a specialised module of our flexible asset-monitoring platform, IPMon, designed to collect data from smart meters installed on site. The data includes live data, which is useful to monitor real-time statistics on power factor, frequencies and power quality, as well as to collect the profile data used for billing recording,” says Fraser.

He also notes that the PowaMon software has a built-in billing engine that can accommodate the tariffs used on site to provide billing and costing details.

PowaMon was developed about 18 months ago, based on a client’s request, and has been growing in popularity since, he says.

“PowaMon and Produmax provide Web services that allow further data integration and interrogation and these are being used to produce data on power consumed for every item produced. This also allows the finer details of the impact on energy efficiency projects to be examined,” says Fraser.

He says because the systems are designed locally, they are designed with the local market in mind.

“Client input guides all our new developments,” states Fraser.

He notes that, although the core concept for Produmax was developed over 15 years ago, the software is constantly updated. The latest version, developed about two years ago, has been the most popular among clients, as it allows them to access the manufacturing execution system (MES) from any computer using any standard Web browser, says Fraser.

Further, the company is raising funds for the roll-out of enhanced support for its products at all the major regional centres, and in the South African Development Community and the Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa group of nations.

“We are also considering the upgrade of our products into a fully cloud-enabled hosted platform that will revolutionise the MES and monitoring industry,” concludes Fraser.

Edited by Tracy Hancock
Creamer Media Contributing Editor




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