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Electricity and Control February 2021 coverPerhaps this new year has not brought us the fresh start we all were hoping for – free from restrictions imposed to combat the spread of Covid 19. We are, nonetheless, making progress. We see vaccines rolling out globally and here in South Africa too. We see peaks and declines recurring in different parts of the world – as we witness the downturn of the second surge in our own country. And we see significant economic stimulus packages taking form internationally to alleviate the economic devastation the pandemic has caused globally.

In South Africa, as we continue to battle the storm, the need to rebuild our economy gains urgency, to make space for much higher employment levels and open up new opportunities for people to earn a living, formally or informally. Access to electricity can provide a fundamental boost for new economic opportunities.

The Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) came into effect on 1 January 2021. This creates the biggest free trade area in the world and reflects African leaders’ ambitions to liberalise intra-African trade across the continent. The challenges are manifold – to deliver what the market needs to grow and prosper – and surely opportunities for new industrial ventures abound.

In this issue of Electricity + Control we look at developments in Industry 4.0 + IIoT, Energy management + the industrial environment, Sensors + switches, and Plant maintenance, test + measurement.

In many ways, the connectivity spurred by Industry 4.0 and IIoT has equipped industry – and businesses generally – to adapt to the impact of the pandemic, enabling remote work and services across many sectors. Global provider of key digital infrastructure, Vertiv, highlights the criticality of data centres as our reliance on them now ranges across so many everyday activities, and suggests that data centres, for the services they provide, will take on critical utility-like status, demanding maximum safety protocols to meet the expectation of 100% availability. It points to a number of key trends that will impact on data centres through 2021 and going forward.

Considering IIoT connectivity, Darrell Halterman of Emerson Automation Solutions sets out the advantages of using the Industrial Ethernet communications protocol PROFINET, for industrial I/O networks. Initially introduced in 2003, PROFINET was purpose-built to deliver interoperability, high-performance communications, and other advantages that still serve well to minimise operational downtime and enable designers to create robust and reliable industrial automation networks.

The pandemic has revealed the urgency of achieving the United Nations 2030 Sustainable Development Goals and, in the context of Energy management + the industrial environment, this has seen an accelerated drive to using renewable and hybrid energy sources, the development of battery storage and other energy storage options, and new technologies for safe and stable integration to the grid and effective grid management.

Drawing from the IEA’s World Energy Outlook, Aytek Yuksel of Cummins Power Systems presents five key insights for IPPs regarding the future of energy. In South Africa we see IPPs and renewable energy sources contributing a greater proportion of the country’s electricity supply, particularly as new wind power facilities are integrated into the national transmission network. Mercia Grimbeek, Chair of SAWEA, highlights the role that REDZs can play in enabling a just energy transition for SA, and Nicola Rump from SRK Consulting reflects on the increased interest from gas-to-power players to meet the critical gaps in South Africa’s electricity supply.

Interestingly too, the dtic and the National Cleaner Production Centre (NCPC), in partnership with UNIDO, have introduced the Global Eco-Industrial Parks Programme in SA to support the country’s Industrial Park Revitalisation Programme by scaling up resource efficiencies and contributing to inclusive and sustainable industrial development.

Sensors + switches are critical components in the automation of industrial processes. In this feature, the ifm application report on the Leksands crispbread production facility in Leksand, Sweden, explains how different types of sensors optimise the plant’s operations. And Vega introduces its new simplified series of sensors designed to suit high-hygiene applications in the food & beverage sector.

Plant maintenance, test + measurement are fundamental across all industries. Here, Ian Loudon of Omniflex presents the case of how the company assisted plant managers at the Natref refinery in Sasolburg to overcome the longstanding problems they had with circuit breakers at the site’s 17 substations, by introducing a simple solution to monitor and manage the equipment.

In our regular columns: in Reskilling, upskilling and training, we report on the wind turbine service technicians who graduated from SARETEC at CPUT at the end of 2020; in Engineering the future, the Volvo Group and other vehicle manufacturers are collaborating to accelerate the development of hydrogen-fuelled trucking in Europe; and in Write @ the back, we report on the launch of the Terra Carta by HRH The Prince of Wales at the One Planet Summit in Paris in January 2021.

Click to download and read this issue in PDF format.

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