IT in Manufacturing


Stepping carefully into the Fourth Industrial Revolution

April 2019 IT in Manufacturing

Rapid advances in technology and artificial intelligence in the mining industry raise issues like data protection, intellectual property ownership and legal liability. In the current absence of specific legislation to govern emerging technologies like artificial intelligence, businesses must continue to rely on existing laws and ensure that they enter into robust contracts.

Aalia Manie is an expert in technology related law and intellectual property.
Aalia Manie is an expert in technology related law and intellectual property.

In December, government invited the public to nominate candidates to serve on the Presidential Commission on the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR). This development should be of interest to the mining industry, where artificial intelligence, big data and technology are rapidly converging in various ways.

Need for regulation

The 4IR is creating a need for regulation on issues such as unemployment, intellectual property (IP), data privacy and security, and liability for defects and loss of control.

The commission, announced in President Cyril Ramaphosa’s state of the nation address earlier in the year, will identify what strategies, policies and plans SA should put in place to position itself as a leading country in the technology revolution. However, these regulations have yet to be drafted and their nature and scope is not yet known.

In the mining sector, some companies are using digital twinning, a virtual reality environment that mirrors the mining environment and is used for training employees on potential risks in the workplace. They are increasingly investing in autonomous vehicles and equipment. There are also intelligent data analytics systems enabling valuable analysis of data, which are collected using the internet of things (IoT) technology. For example, the latest mining equipment can be fitted with sensors that generate messages about breakdowns or safety issues. With better data, capital and labour can both be optimised, allowing for better decision-making.

Artificial intelligence legislation

Artificial intelligence is being deployed in a number of other industries too. Yet at present there is very little specific legislation, either in South Africa or anywhere else, to manage its effects. For companies wishing to access the latest emerging technologies, there are key issues that need to be addressed, no matter what business model is used.

When using or licensing technology systems or services owned by a third party, companies must be particularly cautious when they become reliant on that third-party’s system or services in order to operate. Where the third-party technology is integral to ensure effective or ongoing operations, companies must protect their interests through careful contracting around issues such as scope of use, termination rights, service levels, liability for loss of access or defective service delivery and insolvency of the third party.

Contractual negotiation also presents challenges. When the technology owner is aware of the company’s reliance on the system, it has greater bargaining power in setting pricing and terms.

Be aware of the implications of IP ownership

Companies can also access or develop technology through commercial partnerships and joint ventures. A critical issue from an intellectual property perspective is ensuring clarity on ownership of jointly developed intellectual property and databases, and who owns and/or may use them if the relationship terminates – which may be particularly problematic if the termination happens on acrimonious terms.

A third way of procuring technology is through acquiring or ownership of the IP in the technology, which gives rise to typical merger and acquisition issues such as the necessity for a due diligence to confirm the rights of the seller in relation to the technology. Companies can also build new technology by developing it in-house or with an academic institution, as some mining companies are already doing. Companies using university facilities for research and development must be aware of the IP implications of engaging in publicly funded research and development through academic institutions, which are governed by the Intellectual Property from Publicly Funded Research and Development Act (IPR) Act.

Align with global best practice

The technology evolution is exciting, but it also presents challenges which must be carefully considered and addressed as part of effective business planning and strategy.

Whatever approach SA takes towards regulating artificial intelligence and emerging technologies, it should align itself as closely as possible with global best practice to ensure uniformity. SA has to remain competitive as a jurisdiction for technology investment, research and development.

For more information contact Nadine van Tonder, Teresa Settas Communications, +27 11 894 2767, nadine@tscommunications.co.za, www.tscommunications.co.za




Share this article:
Share via emailShare via LinkedInPrint this page

Further reading:

Yokogawa’s Smart Terminal Automation Solution
April 2019, Yokogawa South Africa , IT in Manufacturing
Yokogawa has accumulated more than two decades of experience in the automation of such terminals and supplied its Terminal Automation Solution to suit varying customer needs.

Read more...
Listening to the Voice of the Machine
April 2019, Parker Hannifin Sales Company South , IT in Manufacturing
The value of discrete IoT.

Read more...
Measurement data on the lookout for artificial intelligence
April 2019, Phoenix Contact , IT in Manufacturing
In the global race for competitive prices, it is the most efficient processes that win the race.

Read more...
IoT-enabled field services improve industrial asset availability
Technews Industry Guide: Maintenance, Reliability & Asset Optimisation 2019 , IT in Manufacturing
Today, many equipment manufacturers are reclaiming the service relationship from the distribution channels with a modern field service management system and remote monitoring.

Read more...
Understanding how predictive analytics tools benefit power utility management
Technews Industry Guide: Maintenance, Reliability & Asset Optimisation 2019, IS³ - Industry Software, Solutions & Support , IT in Manufacturing
This paper reviews how predictive analytics tools can be applied to both utility operations and maintenance.

Read more...
Seamless acquisition and analysis of plant data
Technews Industry Guide: Maintenance, Reliability & Asset Optimisation 2019, Beckhoff Automation , IT in Manufacturing
TwinCAT Analytics supports the ability to investigate machine optimisation and facilitate predictive maintenance.

Read more...
Faster results with a digital twin
April 2019, Siemens Digital Industries , IT in Manufacturing
High tech company Grenzebach’s portfolio includes the simulation of material flow in complex plants in the glass industry. To achieve this, Grenzebach uses Siemens’ simulation solutions. Together, the ...

Read more...
Mining in the Industry 4.0 era
April 2019 , IT in Manufacturing
Pitram from Micromine can assist mining operations to automate and boost efficiency.

Read more...
Paving the way to digitalisation in oil and gas
April 2019, RJ Connect , IT in Manufacturing
Oil and gas are still indispensable fuels for the global economy, and exploring for new sources of oil and gas remains a lucrative and attractive endeavour. New oil platforms, rigs and pipelines are constantly ...

Read more...
Compact splice boxes for future-proof data transmission
April 2019, Phoenix Contact , IT in Manufacturing
Phoenix Contact has extended its range of splice boxes with the new FO range. These FDX 20 series splice boxes ensure continuously reliable data transmission in real time. With their compact and uniform ...

Read more...