System Integration & Control Systems Design

CSS digitises energy consumption at Hulamin for global information accessibility

September 2019 System Integration & Control Systems Design

Energy Cybernetics was contracted by the NCPC-SA as part of the IEE programme to undertake a compressed air system optimisation (CASO) assessment to recommend compressed air system energy efficiency opportunities for implementation at Hulamin Edendale in Pietermaritzburg, KZN. Their study indicated that energy reduction and cost-savings opportunities included the ability to reduce end use air flow and system air pressure, and to optimise compressor control strategy. In addition, performance improvement opportunities included the ability to assess functionality of current air dryers.

Having worked very successfully with Hulamin in the past, Control Software Solutions (CSS) was the perfect choice as system integrator on the project to optimise the visualisation and digitisation of the energy consumption processes at the plant.

“The project started with the energy optimisation project at the expanded coil coating line in 2016 and has continued to expand as budget is released and the uptake from other Hulamin users increases,” says CSS’s Pieter Venter. “In essence, the client wanted to have complete digitisation of the energy processes and to provide visualisation for all departments using energy,”

Efficiency through data visualisation

In this way, all data would be centrally located and accessible to all relevant parties. A more accurate and finite assessment of energy consumption by the various processes would allow the company to optimise its processes and reduce costs by anticipating them in advance. CSS’s scope of work therefore entailed historising data and visually displaying it; managing and immediate notification of alarms; making trends available; as well as allowing for remote plant access and change management.

Another element that needed to be addressed was the monitoring of the moisture content in the compressed air to determine where issues were arising. This early warning system would allow Hulamin management to quickly react to any issues, an essential addition since the site is so large.

The selected system included:

• Wonderware System Platform. This is the Hulamin standard and provides redundancy, seamless integration and connectivity to multiple devices.

• Win 911. This is used to notify clients when parameters are out of the acceptable range.

• InTouch Access Anywhere – deployed for the use of managers around the plant.

• InTouch WindowMaker and WindowViewer.

• Historian and Historian Client.

• APC Thin Manager.

Venter says that the project presented a number of challenges that included the fact that Hulamin did not have a proper industrial network architecture. “We were therefore forced to develop standards that would allow the development of the network in such a way that future expansion could be easily expedited. The aim was to in future provide an industrial network topology with wireless remote access and redundant PLCs. Added to this we needed to deliver central services plant air indicators that provide situational awareness and backup data for 10 years.

Another challenge faced by CSS was a purely logistical one. “Since the plant was not able to shut down for extended periods of time during the upgrade project, we had to remain extremely flexible and deploy the various elements in a fragmented manner,” explains Venter. “We also provided remote dial-in support for when we were offsite.”

Venter believes that the success of the ­project hinged on the collaborative nature of the relationship between all stakeholders. “A project of this scope benefits greatly from the early involvement of personnel from production, maintenance, IT and business systems,” he adds. “The requirements and expectations of these departments for the new system have to be established early on and, as the project progresses, it is crucial to maintain lines of communication between these departments. We have managed, as a team, to implement a rather complex system in a highly successful manner that ticks all the client’s boxes.”

Ephraim Khoza, electrical engineer, Hulamin’s Engineering Services, summed up the sentiment of the company: “This is a powerful solution. I can see live trends, with real-time data available, so it is easy for me to react. Notification by sms and email when alarm limits are reached means we can respond immediately.”

For more information contact Pieter Venter, Control Software Solutions, +27 31 914 0040,,


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