Felipe Rivera
Industry Business/Process Automation Hub Leader Mexico and Central America
Schneider Electric Systems Mexico
View from the Top

Energy as a Measurement of Operational Efficiency

Mon, 10/22/2018 - 14:13

Q: How does Schneider Electric help mining companies optimize their energy consumption?
A: For Schneider Electric, the approach for energy administration must be based on diversification of supply. This allows the creation of a strategy for cost management though different energy generation possibilities. For example, some regions where mines are located are favorable for solar or wind generation, among others. The idea is to build an energy approach based on diversification and power banks, ensuring availability and supply, minimizing costs and optimizing resources.
All big mining companies in the country have their own energy diversification plans. Schneider Electric works with several of these to optimize the ways in which they can generate that energy. The industry remains gas-dependent so our goal is to realize a broader diversification. We are convinced that the available technology, such as IoT, Big Data, artificial intelligence and analytics, gives the industry a tangible opportunity to optimize the use of its assets. First, companies need to strive for energy diversification and then for optimization. That is, to not depend on only one source, but to also consume less and produce more.
Q: How will Schneider Electric’s EcoStruxure platform revolutionize the Mexican mining industry?
A: This data architecture is based on the collection of all available technology for data management plus the company’s 130 years of research and development on automatization, energy optimization and asset management. At its core, it impacts the capacity to process information in field devices. The mining industry has thousands of them, so we are implementing new features for data management that allow sensors to multitask. This way, they keep performing their main duty, which is to measure something like temperature or vibration, while at the same time, providing a series of readings related to the main variable. For example, this allows the measuring of a field device’s vibration, temperature and atmospheric humidity, opening the possibility for correlated analysis of multiple variables. As a result, it ensures a better monitoring of asset optimization and calls attention to any piece of machinery that requires intervention. It is impossible to keep all equipment working at 100 percent availability; it is not viable given the high maintenance costs for this level of performance. But there is an algorithm for achieving the correct operation of machinery in a certain mine that reduces operational, energy and maintenance costs.
Our slogan “Energy Does Not Lie” refers to a fundamental physics concept in which energy consumption reflects the behavior of a person, a machine and even a society. This is the same principle with companies, as they must strive to remain at their best operational performance. So, we focus on guaranteeing that their energy will be used in the best possible way. Within EcoStruxure there is also a specialized architecture for water management that ensures the measurement of water conditions. Companies can thus manage the amount of water used, how much will be cleaned, reprocessed, re-used and all the energy required to achieve sustainable consumption. We continuously develop technology to support EcoStruxure by launching about 365 patents per year to secure optimum energy consumption for our clients.
Q: How can mining companies start to incorporate IoT and IIoT into their operations for greater efficiency?
A: Our technology offering can be incorporated starting from just one sensor or engine. For example, one installed speed shifter provides real-time readings on engine burnout. Suddenly, the mine is working with mathematical algorithms as it acquires the capacity to measure and process information. This analysis is predictive and reports the state of operational efficiency. Our capacity to process information will give us power, so it is key for miners to stay at the forefront. Technological innovation no longer takes years but just days. As commodity prices are so volatile, the industry’s needs are constantly changing. So, technology developers must keep up with these changing needs in a collaborative way to meet shifting demand.