We start this new year with a fresh new look Electricity + Control and a streamlined schedule of features for the year ahead – one that we believe responds to your needs and interests as readers and advertisers. For more information on the line-up for the year, please see our Profile.
In this January 2020 issue, in Control systems + automation, looking to the factory of the future Omron Industrial Automation anticipates a balanced interaction between people, automated machines and robots. While noting that many are still concerned that machines and robots will replace workers and jobs, Omron advocates their coexistence and cooperation. It highlights that, with progress made in automation and artificial intelligence, improved interaction between people, machines and robots can contribute to high economic performance and productivity.
Control systems are critical to ensuring cost-effective energy management on industrial sites. Energy Partners recently completed one of its largest boiler installations to date at the Nokeng fluorspar mine, northeast of Pretoria: four 10-tonne-per-hour coal-fired boiler units and associated infrastructure – together with a control system developed to integrate seamlessly into the mine’s existing systems. The control system is key to balancing reliability, energy efficiency and asset preservation of the boiler fleet and delivering energy cost-effectively.
Moving to Drives, motors + switchgear, energy efficiency is a key consideration too in the selection of industrial motors. Global motor and VSD manufacturer WEG notes though, that it’s important to consider the efficiency of the drive system as a whole – including the motor and the drive – to ensure an optimum performance combination. WEG points to the international IEC 61800-9 standard as a valuable reference in this regard.
In our feature on Measurement + instrumentation, Endress + Hauser looks at temperature measurement in ultra-high temperature (UHT) processing, which is typically used in the food and beverage industry. UHT processes are used to heat products to above 135°C and reliably accurate temperature control becomes critical. This requires regular calibration of the installed temperature sensors – and led Endress + Hauser to develop a smart, self-calibrating thermometer for use in UHT processes.
Reliable measurement devices and instrumentation are essential to the safety of plant, equipment + people and while the safety of a plant depends of the reliability of each individual component, Daniele Maneiro from Wika Instruments, Italy, highlights the critical role that valves play in plant safety. Almost all pressure measuring instruments work with a valve or a combination of valves. Maneiro outlines some of the factors to be considered in selecting valves, not only to ensure the accuracy of pressure measurement but also to prevent dangerous leaks or damage to the plant.
Surge protection is also critical to the safety of plant and electronic equipment. Ivan Grobbelaar from DEHN Africa emphasises the need for surge protection within a lightning protection system, highlighting that the risk from surges resulting from lightning is greater than that of direct lightning strikes. This makes the correct installation of surge protection devices very important.
In addition, in what is now our regular column on skills training initiatives, we report on Amazon Web Services’ commitment within the dti’s Equity Equivalent Investment Programme. This will see AWS investing more than R365 million into the development of black-owned small businesses in the ICT sector to support them with skills in technologies such as cloud computing, IoT, machine learning, mobile technologies and more. It is a significant commitment and a demonstration of faith in SA’s technical talent and creativity.
Looking at cybersecurity, Swiss technology company Paradox Engineering, an advocate of cybersecurity by design, is using blockchain technology in its Smart Urban Network. This makes operations of smart urban infrastructures intrinsically secure – and enables cities to monetise device-related data gathered via IoT sensors in the urban environment, generating a real return on investment and boosting new economies.
In the closing comment of this issue, Write @ the back, Siyabonga Mbanjwa from global engineering and technology group SENER, looks at the opportunities and potential risks presented by South Africa’s latest Integrated Resource Plan. He emphasises the urgency of implementing the next steps in the plan to attract investment to the energy sector.
The new year – 2020 – saw the return of load-shedding on January 4th. As I write, the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy is hosting a briefing session relating to its request for information from IPPs for emergency power generation solutions to deliver between 2 000 and 3 000 MW to the grid – in the shortest possible time and at the least possible cost – as Eskom faces continuing supply constraints and a high level of unplanned breakdowns. At the same time, Eskom is talking of taking capacity out of the supply system to allow it to implement a planned, intensive and effective maintenance and repair programme, as required. This is sure to be another interesting year!