This April 2020 edition of Electricity + Control comes to you in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic and South Africa’s three-week lockdown, effective from midnight 26th March 2020.
At Crown Publications, we are fortunate that we can, for the most part, continue to function remotely – and publish all our titles digitally to reach all our readers. At the same time we’re keeping our online platforms – the website and social media – up to date and the Electricity + Control newsletters will be dispatched in the first and third weeks each month as usual.
Many of our readers and advertisers operate within the newly regulated ‘essential services’ sectors – in agriculture, the production of food and beverages, pharmaceuticals and other healthcare products, as well as the core services of power generation, transmission and distribution, and water treatment and distribution. All these operations, and others, continue.
Quite likely we will in future think of life before Covid-19 – and after Covid-19 – as we get to grips with the social and economic impact of the pandemic on the world as we have known it. For now, we are pleased to bring you the April edition of Electricity + Control, digitally. Technology certainly supports us in enabling this.
In Industry 4.0 and IIoT, we lead with an article by Benjamin Bruns, of global company Beckhoff Automation, where he puts forward some of the key benefits of using PC-based control technology for process automation. From his own experience in the oil and gas industry, Bruns recognises industry’s reasons for not always wanting to be the first to implement technological innovations, but he emphasises that robust industrial PC-based control technologies enable users to combine the distributed control system – at an operational level – with the IT level, seamlessly. This increases total availability of systems and reduces the engineering requirement, among other significant advantages.
We also look at a case study – at one of Belgium’s leading gas distribution operations – where the relatively simple intervention of introducing IP keyboard, video and mouse extenders from Matrox Graphics – has enabled a much more productive control room. Every day, dispatchers at Fluxys, six of them, monitor 4 000 kilometres of high-pressure gas pipelines. The IP KVM extenders support up to eight screens on each dispatcher’s desk, displaying data from three different systems to facilitate operations.
Looking at Energy management + the industrial environment we all realise that South Africa’s energy supply landscape is changing significantly, as reflected in the IRP 2019 and within the global shift towards renewable energy and low carbon economies. The Minister of Mineral Resources & Energy, Gwede Mantashe’s announcement at the 2020 Investing in Africa Mining Indaba – that his department is working on a revised Schedule 2 of the Electricity Regulation Act, which will enable self-generation and facilitate municipal generation options under ‘Distributed Generation’, and a review of the respective licensing and registration requirements – raised a lot of interest, from mining companies and from industry more broadly. Three partners from law firm Webber Wentzel clarify the current regulations in this regard.
Energy management and energy storage have become critical concerns in the drive to deliver clean, affordable energy at scale, on a stable and sustainable basis. The MegaBoy is an efficient, reliable, scalable and smart power and energy storage system for off-grid and grid-connected applications, made in SA by Somerset West based BlueNova Energy. It can be powered by multiple sources, including wind and solar, to serve industrial and other applications.
Swedish start-up Azelio, also working in the renewable energy sector, has introduced a ‘through the night’ storage system which signals a significant shift in potentially strengthening solar and wind power to make them 24-hour energy solutions. The system is being trialled in three verification projects, in Sweden, Abu Dhabi, and Morocco.
In Measurement + instrumentation Endress + Hauser shares a case study demonstrating the benefits of coordinated calibration management of process instrumentation at a biotechnology plant. On a complex site where different business units run independent operations using separate resources, the centralised calibration management service has achieved time and cost savings, as well as supporting optimum process availability.
Safety of plant, equipment and people is always a priority in industry. Looking at surge protection for low voltage power systems, Holger Heckler from Phoenix Contact notes that as electronic devices get smaller it becomes increasingly challenging to protect them against switching overvoltages and lightning induced surges. He presents the range of surge protective devices available and considers those best suited to provide a first stage of protection.
In the chemical industry, which typically entails dealing with explosive dusts and gases, Pepperl+Fuchs helps its customers to select, plan and develop customised solutions for process plants. The company outlines some of the solutions it offers to meet the requirements for specific types of protection.
There is a lot more news on products and services in each feature. And Write @ the back, you’ll find the statement recently issued by Secretary-General of the ITU, Houlin Zhao, on the launch of a global platform to help protect telecommunications networks during the Covid-19 crisis – and beyond.
Stay well, stay safe, and stay informed.