CHARL MARAIS Having the foresight to work together allows for a better tech offering
Energy management and automation company Schneider Electric and information technology management company 4Sight have embarked on a project at a prominent South African mining group that sees both partners implementing a value chain optimisation (VCO) solution that includes AVEVA’s Production Management and Unified Supply Chain technologies.
The project, which is earmarked for completion by November 2023, will replace the mine’s multi-layered, highly complex Microsoft Excel-based supply chain environment with two components.
The first component will be the application of AVEVA Unified Supply Chain, which has the capacity to plan up to two years into the future, improving the execution of activities such as processing, logistics, inventories and product requirements and provision.
The second component embraces the AVEVA Production Management technology that monitors current activities to track conformance to the enhanced plans.
“Combined, the two components will allow the mine to plan for future demand while making provision for activities that have not been completed or that deviate from initial planning,” says 4Sight operational technology digital transformation manager Charl Marais.
He adds that the implemented solution, therefore, becomes a dynamic, repeatable and predictive system that enables the customer to accurately manage its supply chain based on past and future information.
“With the project, we’re providing the mine with a VCO solution that will allow it to accurately manage demand and supply, ensuring that the right material is in the right place without incurring unnecessary expenditure,” says Schneider Electric digital transformation expert Dr Suven Ramsunder.
“As a practical example, due to fluctuating fuel costs, it might be more cost effective to use trucks, at certain times, to transport materials to the various ports as opposed to trains and vice versa,” adds Marais.
Schneider Electric and 4Sight have seen the partnership expand as the companies’ roll out various high-level projects that are testament to the adage “strength in numbers”.
4Sight’s operational technology team of nearly 100 engineers work closely together with Schneider Electric to develop tailored solutions that meet modern customer requirements.
The current Excel environment is highly complex and managed by a few individuals – a risk factor if one or more individuals are not available.
However, by implementing the VCO solution, the mine will benefit from an automated system that is less reliant on human interaction.
Additionally, the automated system mitigates human error such as finger trouble, which can cause havoc in a manual environment, thus delivering reliable information across the various systems on the mine’s sites.
The aim of this solution is to enable the relevant personnel to be more efficient and effective in their duties without the added stress of a complex system.
A fully automated system also delivers answers in minutes and can be operated frequently, unlike the current system, which delivers forecasting much slower and less frequently.
Schneider Electric’s products are vendor-neutral, meaning the VCO solution will integrate with the mine’s current systems, driving down costs in replacing existing equipment and overcoming interoperability challenges.
Ultimately, Schneider Electric and 4Sight aim to provide the mining group with an improved supply chain to deliver on-time, reliable and actionable information, save on costs and enhance operations.