20% improvement in control system uptime at Lonmin’s Marikana Smelter with help from Wonderware

MINING, METALS & MINERALS

Goals

  • Improve control system uptime
  • Increase SCADA system performance and responsiveness
  • Detect potential trouble sources before they could affect production

Challenges

  • Three-month implementation on a live system

Results

  • Significantly reduced risk of downtime
  • Improved system performance
  • Guidelines to deal with issues
  • Assistance with problems
  • Proactive maintenance
  • Optimal use of mission-critical assets

Solutions & Products

  • Wonderware Sentinel Services

“Remaining profitable and competitive in the precious metals industry is a complex business. Our processes are complex and, by definition, so are their control systems. Wonderware Sentinel Services is helping us manage both.”

Johan Louw, Architect Instrumentation, Lonmin

Lonmin Marikana mine complex, Northwest Province, South Africa

Lonmin’s Marikana complex has one of the largest industrial control and IT infrastructures in South Africa – so large in fact, that it requires supervision of its own. So Lonmin uses Wonderware Sentinel Services (WSS) to identify underlying issues early in order to improve system uptime and performance by 20% over conventional approaches.

Background

ArchestrA technology is Wonderware’s “industrial operating system” for the unification of hardware, software, systems and processes so that users are provided the most informative view of that part of their company’s wealth generation processes for which they are responsible. The “front end” to ArchestrA technology is Wonderware’s System Platform.

An ArchestrA Galaxy is an entire application comprising the complete ArchestrA system consisting of a single logical namespace and a collection of platforms, engines, and objects. A galaxy can also be one or more networked PCs that constitute an automation system.

A galaxy has no practical limits as to its size or complexity but is usually configured to meet the requirements of a specific area of a plant.

“The Marikana operation has 15 ArchestrA galaxies, each with its multiple servers and complex environment,” says Johan Louw, Architect Instrumentation, Lonmin.”We can’t possibly always be in control of such extensive complexity yet we have to be if production is to be maintained. While our SCADA systems were supervising production, there was nothing supervising our SCADA systems.”

The supervision of an extensive industrial control and IT system can often be as complex as the processes it is monitoring and both can have equally serious consequences in the case of malfunctions. In Lonmin’s case, the determination of System Platform health, hardware status, available hard drive and memory space, CPU usage and many other factors were simply unknown.

“The system was becoming slow and unresponsive and we also experienced some unexplained redundant failovers,” says Louw. “So our goals were to improve the performance of our galaxies, reduce costs due to downtimes and identify potential problems before they affected production,” says Louw. “We needed an intelligent monitoring tool that would constantly monitor the health of our Wonderware assets and with a flexible architecture to support our unique systems while being able to continuously respond to new alert conditions.”

Implementation

The implementation of Wonderware Sentinel Services took roughly three months and was done on a live system. Because of Internet connectivity, Lonmin’s business IT assisted with the configuration of the firewalls.

“In my opinion, the most prominent feature of the system is the unattended and continuous monitoring of one of our key assets that’s easy to take for granted,” says Louw. “Working closely with Wonderware Southern Africa, we were able to get the most from all the features that WSS has to offer.”

“WSS supplies live dashboards to site as well as live alarms complete with actual values and thresholds,” adds Louw. “This real-time monitoring and publication of the system’s health helps to prevent unpleasant surprises.”

The weekly system health checks provide a first-hand diagnosis for preventative maintenance and the proactive response to possible system failures. This is followed by monthly and quarterly reports on system performance as well as a summary of previous issues and the actions that were taken to address them. Also available are recommendations on how to improve system performance.

About Lonmin

Lonmin engages in the discovery, extraction, refining and marketing of platinum group metals (PGMs) and is one of the world’s largest primary producers of PGMs.

These metals are essential for many industrial applications, especially catalytic converters for internal combustion engine emissions, as well as their widespread use in jewellery. Saleable by-products produced for our PGM mining  include gold, copper, nickel, chrome and cobalt.

Lomin’s core operations, consisting of eleven shafts and inclines, are situated in the Bushveld Igneous Complex in South Africa, a country which hosts nearly 80% of global PGM resources. The company has a new order mining licence from the South African government for these core operations, which runs to 2037 and is renewable to 2067. Lonmin has resources of 183 million troy ounces (3 PGE + Au) of PGMs and 36 million ounces of reserves.