The next step in automation is introducing plug and produce modules which offer manufacturers a more agile option in automating processes to meet the demand for shorter production runs and smaller batch sizes – down to batch size one. In this issue of Electricity + Control, Gero Lustig of ABB Industrial Automation explains the concept of modular automation, how it works and its application in, for example, the fine chemicals, food and beverages, pharmaceuticals and textile industries.
We look at Namibia Breweries Limited’s automation journey and its recent focus on energy management, which won the company a Best Operational Implementation Award from IS3 earlier this year at its 2019 customerX-Change User Conference. This case study illustrates how process automation and data monitoring and management can be used to advance production efficiencies, quality control and process administration, as well as energy usage.
We present a brief wrap on how some companies are stepping forward to support skills training and development – at various levels – responding to the need for new skills in industry in line with new technologies.
In the field of Hazardous areas + safety, Simon Davis of Phoenix Contact Electronics addresses the importance of functional safety in industrial automation and how safety sensors and switches are being standardised to support this.
South Africa’s new Integrated Resources Plan (IRP 2019) released by the Minister of Minerals and Energy, Gwede Mantashe, in mid-October, laid out a blueprint of the energy mix for the country going forward, and provided a context for the new roadmap for Eskom, which Minister of Public Enterprises, Pravin Gordhan, released subsequently. The new roadmap for Eskom addresses government’s plan to restructure Eskom into three operating divisions – Generation, Transmission and Distribution – within Eskom Holdings and to set it on a new path of sustainability. The goal is to supply reliable and affordable electricity for the benefit of all South Africans – businesses, industries and households.
Segomoco Scheppers, Group Executive for Transmission at Eskom, has also shared Eskom’s Transmission Development Plan with stakeholders. As well as reviewing some of the key achievements of 2019, Scheppers outlined planned developments of transmission infrastructure in high voltage transmission lines and transformer capacity over the coming 10 years.
All these developments present a framework for the opportunities emerging in the power generation, transmission and distribution sectors, the integration of renewable energy supply into the grid, the development of energy resources, technologies and storage, and the development of mini and micro-grids to supply localised urban or remote rural communities.
As our Technical Director Ian Jandrell says in his Comment in this issue of E+C – as this year of highs and lows draws to a close – we wish all our readers and advertisers, colleagues and associates, all the best for the festive season. We wish for a peaceful and prosperous new year, fresh beginnings and bold steps forward in 2020.