Vereeniging-based furnace and industrial services provider Dickinson Group of Companies (DGC) is executing two substantial projects in the local platinum group metals (PGMs) sector to improve the clients’ production capacities.
“The full turnkey projects incorporate the majority of services provided by our company,” DGC commercial manager Louwrens Minnie tells Mining Weekly.
The scope for both projects includes the supply, fabrication and installation of steelwork, any demolition required as well as the total on-site demolition and rebuild of the furnace crucible – including the steel and refractories – to increase the capacity of the furnace.
About 400 employees, including unskilled labourers, have been employed on the projects.
Minnie adds that DGC always tries to explore new technologies and methodologies to improve the service provided, as well as the quality of the workmanship.
“We also strive to minimise downtime for our clients, subsequently maximising their profitability.”
He says that aside from the usual challenges experienced with projects of this magnitude, the global pandemic was the biggest challenge in completing both projects.
“We had no way of planning or making provision for a challenge like this,” he wryly comments.
Nevertheless, extra measures were implemented to negate any risk that Covid-19 posed to the projects and the teams involved.
These detailed protocols included the establishment of sanitising stations in and around work sites, as well as trying to maintain physical distancing among team members while performing their tasks.
We also ensure that we have enough standby trained crews available, should a project team be affected by Covid-19.
“Our employees are continuously updated and trained on the risks of Covid-19, as well as how to mitigate these risks and stay safe within the circumstances and scenarios in which they work.
“Ongoing, daily screening of employees before and after shifts has become the norm,” Minnie affirms.
DGC is considering the vaccination of all its essential employees.
DGC last month announced the establishment of Dickinson Technologies, a subsidiary that will provide a range of asset and risk management digitalisation solutions.
“This subsidiary’s services will be complementary to the group’s current asset integrity management services, which are aimed at ensuring that industrial clients derive the most value from industrial assets,” explains Minnie.
Dickinson Technologies’ digitalisation solutions will enable industrial manufacturers to extract actionable information from their pools of live and historic process data to effectively maximise productivity, reliability, safety and regulatory compliance.
Minnie explains that the solutions will create numerous competitive advantages in the competitive present-day business environments that require manufacturers to “do more for less”.
These services will be threefold, with the first offering being a self-service data-analytics tool that will enable process and maintenance engineers to perform complex data analysis, regardless of their level of knowledge in data science.
The tools use statistical methods of machine learning and artificial intelligence to find patterns of particular interest.
The second offering will be an advanced analytical solution tailored to suit any business requirement.
These solutions require extensive collaboration between subject matter experts and data scientists to transform data in its industrial context into comprehensive key performance indicators for asset health monitoring and plant optimisation.
Many devices used in plants are networked and connect to the Internet. This has created security risks in terms of in-house and external malicious attacks that need to be detected or prevented.
Therefore, the third area of focus, industrial cybersecurity solutions, will be implemented.
He concludes that, in the past, industrial control systems used to operate in isolated networks, with no connection to the outside world; currently, this is no longer the case.