Digital transformation is gaining momentum as it enables new opportunities for value creation, innovative business models and trendsetting forms of cooperation. To connect, create and collaborate for the digital future, Siemens recently hosted a Digital Enterprise Series week to demonstrate insights into digital transformation and launch the Dawn of Digitalisation and its Impact on Africa.
African countries must act quickly and decisively to become leaders on the global economic stage. Digitalisation is providing the continent with the opportunity to accelerate growth and rapidly expand struggling economies – but it’s a small window and decision-makers must get a strategy in place now in order to succeed.
Siemens, in conjunction with Frost & Sullivan, have put together a comprehensive research project outlining the current state of key industries across the continent and identifying challenges and opportunities.
The study – The Dawn of Digitalisation and its Impact on Africa – considers growth predictions and where the adoption of smart technology would be most beneficial to drive sustainable growth. Focus was placed on four key sectors: water, food and beverage, mining and manufacturing.
Key findings of the report include:
• The adoption of digital technologies, innovation as well as a range of digital customer offerings are expected to remain varied across industries, markets and geographies.
• While advanced analytics and digitalisation are witnessing growing adoption across certain industry sectors, such as automotive, there is a real opportunity for adoption of these across industry sectors such as the mining and food and beverage industries, which are significant contributors to major African economies.
• Manufacturing, while the most mature in its transformation and adoption of digital technologies in Africa, remains a marginal player struggling to make a bigger impact on country GDPs.
• In the water industry, expenditure in water infrastructure has been low when compared to the global average. Inadequate investment in infrastructure coupled with poor water utility management has resulted in a greater need for development of the water sector.
• In the mining industry, which has been witnessing subdued investment, rising cost pressures and increasing labour issues, a combination of mechanisation, efficient extraction of resources and better use of data can make it easier for mine operators to cut costs and create a leaner and more efficient mining operation.
The findings from the study are just a starting point. Siemens hopes it will begin a dialogue and provide a framework to some of the unique opportunities that exist in these critical industry sectors.
Water and wastewater
Less than 1% of the world’s water is potable and Africa has the largest number of water-scarce countries in the world. Most of the continent relies on rainfall and surface water for water supply. Many existing fresh water sources have been polluted to the extent that access to clean water stands at about 51%. Water scarcity is a rapidly growing problem for the continent and water projects only account for 1,3% of total infrastructure investment in Africa.
In the water sector, Siemens aims to promote greater awareness, among customers and end-users, of the other uses of Siemens flow meters such as water leakage detection, pipeline water management and irrigation flow measurement. By optimising existing infrastructure, Africa can quickly and efficiently increase access to water. As experts in water applications, it offers powerful, innovative technical solutions.
Siemens’ high-precision volume measurement flow meters are used by various Water Boards across South Africa, such as Rand Water, East Rand Water Care Company (ERWAT), Lepelle Northern Water, Umgeni Water and Johannesburg Water. Siemens smart metering helps in water balancing:
• Designed for water industry applications.
• One battery driven water meter DN 25 – 600.
• 10 years battery operation and AC + battery backup.
Food and beverage
Rapid urbanisation combined with preference shifts towards formal retail will drive demand for FMCG products in the coming years.
Globally, and in Africa, the industry is dominated by large multinational players. High import duties, free trade agreements and rebates in the form of tax incentives are increasingly being adopted in order to drive local manufacturing growth. This, along with numerous SME accelerator programmes, is shaping this sector to be more dynamic and an enabler of economic growth.
Food and beverage manufacturers must consider many factors: a consistently high level of product quality, maximum plant availability, optimum resource efficiency – and, increasingly, the greatest possible flexibility in order to meet more and more individual customer requirements.
A good example of Siemens technology being used to improve plant efficiency is in the beer industry. Simatic PCS 7 with Braumat craft brewing libraries is designed specifically for this sector and employs automation to streamline the entire production process.
Advantages include increased production, improved quality, repeatability and consistency. This is done by automating labour-intensive tasks, which historically have been done manually. Alongside automation, Siemens runs various upskilling programmes to ensure staff grow with the company and are enabled to thrive in an increasingly digitalised environment.
Mining is one of the key economic drivers for many African nations. Over the past few years this sector has come under pressure due to subdued investment, rising cost pressures and increasing labour issues.
The crippling strikes over the last few years have gradually pushed mining companies towards implementing mechanisation on a larger scale to improve cost efficiency and remain globally competitive.
The challenges confronting the globalised mining industry can only be mastered by raising productivity and by reducing operating and extraction costs. Ever stricter environmental regulations must also be met and safe working conditions ensured.
Enhanced productivity with reduced maintenance and service costs: SIMINE portfolio with complete electrical engineering, drive automation and service packages that increase productivity, improve drive system efficiency and reduce energy costs.
Optimising conveyor belt systems: digital simulation tools to reveal the dynamic behaviour of the whole system, which allows improvements to be made in operation while also minimising idle times.
Optimised processes and operation: Simatic PCS7 with its open, flexible and scalable architecture forms the basis of the Minerals Automation Standard that aims at improvements in competitiveness, through optimised productivity, plant availability and efficiency.
Condition monitoring systems: Siplus CMS for the early detection of damage to machine and plants to aid decision making for maintenance staff, operators and management.
Today, modern technology opens up new ways to set benchmarks in productivity. Mining companies all over the world rely on state-of-the-art automation, energy, and drilling systems to increase mining intensity with reduced personnel and energy costs. Some of them are able to achieve energy savings of 10-40% through renewable energy installations, innovative energy technologies, and highly automated mining processes.
In addition, Siemens also created The Digital Mining Incubator, which is a co-creation space focused on developing mining engineering competence. The incubator is integrated into the Wits Tshimologong Digital Innovation Precinct and is aimed at upskilling young individuals who have an interest in the mining sector, as well as disadvantaged individuals interested in actively participating in the future of mining.
Growing GDP per capita is expected to boost local demand for manufactured goods while also providing the opportunity to create export-driven manufacturing setups. Local demand alone is not expected to justify investment in the sector.
African countries are rich in mineral resources, which are exported without much value addition and as such have a lower market value. Finished goods are then imported at a much higher price.
To succeed in the future Africa needs to seize the opportunities provided by digitalisation right now. Digitalisation promises lower costs, improved production quality, flexibility and efficiency. It shortens response times to customer requests and market demands.
Siemens digital twin
The digital twin in the automotive industry is the precise virtual model of a vehicle or a production plant. It displays their development throughout the entire lifecycle and allows operators to predict behaviour, optimise performance, and implement insights from previous design and production experiences.
Siemens offers the digital twin of product, production and performance that helps reduce the number of prototypes, and predict performance of production and products through a combination of domain expertise and optimised tools.
In South Africa, Siemens technology automates and intelligently controls assembly lines and paint shops. Siemens also plays an integral role in the manufacturing process of the upstream automotive segment with industrial control technology in the component and the tyre manufacturing industries.
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