Industry: Mining

Introducing situational awareness to Lonmin’s smelter operators

Goals

  • Continuous monitoring of process and equipment KPIs
  • Overview of the plant status at a glance
  • A warning and annunciation system that would comply to ISA standards but that would be
  • maintainable and owned by the operational staff
  • Interactive workflow management to enforce plant PMPs

Solutions and Products

  • System Platform
  • Historian
  • InTouch
  • QI Analyst

Challenges

  • Definition, evaluation and categorisation of alarms
  • Display of acknowledged and unacknowledged alarms
  • Operator interaction with the system
  • Documentation mechanism

Results

  • Rationalised alarms
  • Open communication channels established to facilitate continuous improvement
  • Created a maintenance and audit strategy for annunciation
  • Created a sense of ownership for all
  • Process engineer can develop efficiency models with specification limits
  • Graphical representation of the most important KPIs for all operators based on the same source data
  • Transfer of knowledge from shift to shift

Marikana, North-West Province, South Africa – Lonmin’s huge smelter
complex at Marikana needs more than sophisticated automation for
successful operation. It needs the intelligent management and control
that can only come from well-informed and knowledgeable operators.
It is with this goal in mind that Lonmin initiated a five-year project that
would transform their extensive SCADA assets into an operational tool
that would provide a holistic view of the plant from multiple
viewpoints to improve the operational awareness of smelter
operators.

Vision

The project and its outcome needed to comply with Lonmin’s strategy which includes:

  • Total safety to people and equipment
  • Process optimisation through continuous improvement
  • Knowledge transfer
  • Common standards
  • Auditable control systems

Lonmin concluded that they would need a system that would not only provide a graphical layout of the plant but that would also provide operational staff with information that would include:

  • Continuous monitoring of process and equipment KPIs
  • An overview of the plant status at a glance
  • A warning and annunciation system that would comply to ISA standards but that would be maintainable and owned by the operational staff
  • Interactive workflow management to enforce plant PMPs

To achieve this, it would be necessary to develop a common graphical plant layout providing the process flow. This would be followed by implementing key equipment and process quality performance monitoring solutions. The window into all the key plant information would be done through dashboards that incorporated situational awareness principles. Finally, a basis would be established for interactive problem solving based on procedures and best practices.

“Our aim was out to do this within 5 years as most of the work will be completed in house with assistance from partners and vendors where required,” says Percy French, Automation Manager, Lonmin plc

Conclusion

To be truly in control of the plant is to be fully in touch with the performance of its process and equipment. For this to happen, every single involved person must be aware of the performance limits of the equipment and process and be warned if these limits are not being met and why. They must also be constantly apprised of potential problems and hazards before they affect production. In other words, they must not only be constantly aware of the present situation but must also be capable of extrapolating future results based on their current knowledge. This is the world of situational awareness.

Lonmin