IT in Manufacturing

Plan for the future, yesterday

April 2023 IT in Manufacturing

Schneider Electric and 4Sight have embarked on an exciting project at a prominent South African mining group that sees the partners implementing a value chain optimisation (VCO) solution, which includes AVEVA’s Production Management & Unified Supply Chain offering.

Charl Marais.

The project, which is earmarked for completion by November 2023, will replace the mine’s multi-layered and highly complex Excel-based supply chain environment with two components:

• AVEVA Unified Supply Chain, which plans up to two years into the future, optimising activities such as processing, logistics, inventories and product requirements and provision.

• AVEVA Production Management, which monitors current activities to track conformance to the optimised 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 have deviated from initial planning. The implemented solution therefore becomes a dynamic, repeatable and predictive system that allows the customer to accurately manage its supply chain based on past and future information,” comments Charl Marais, OT Digital Transformation BU manager at 4Sight.

“With the project, we’re providing the mine with a VCO solution that will allow it to manage demand and supply accurately, ensuring that the right material is in the right place without incurring unnecessary expenditure,” says Dr Suven Ramsunder, digital transformation expert at Schneider Electric.

“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.

Suven Ramsunder.

Information automated

The current Excel environment is highly complex and managed by a few individuals – a risk factor if one or more individuals are not available. By implementing the VCO solution, the mine will benefit from an automated system that is less reliant on human interaction. Furthermore, 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.

This does not imply that people are not essential, as Schneider Electric and 4Sight recognise that people are the lifeblood of an organisation. 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 run frequently, unlike the current system, which delivers forecasting slower and less frequently.

Schneider Electric’s products are vendor neutral, which means 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 optimised supply chain to deliver on time, reliable and actionable information, save on costs, and enhance operations.


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