X-Change 2017
X-Change 2017

X-CHANGE 2017, Wonderware Southern Africa’s 25th annual User Conference was held at Sun City’s brand new conference facility from 2nd to 5th April. The conference was host to 370 local and international industry professionals and this year featured the introduction of new solution integration possibilities and approaches in the areas of HMI and Supervisory Control, Manufacturing Operations Management (MOM) and Industrial Information Management (IIM).

The numbers speak for themselves:

  • 370 delegates
  • 3 keynote addresses
  • 36 international and local presenters
  • 65 breakout sessions including 20 end-user presentations featuring major South African projects
  • 22 partner exhibitors and 11 Wonderware stands featuring the latest product releases and capabilities

So, what was it all about? In short; evolution.

But the evolution of industrial automation and IT solutions is different to human evolution because, like the expanding universe, it is progressing at an accelerating rate. Here’s an example:

Exactly thirty years ago, the world’s first Windows-based HMI was released – the world knows it as InTouch. For InTouch and its competitors, dynamic graphics became the cornerstone of their evolution. Then came the interface with other enterprise solutions. But a few years ago, the introduction of Situational Awareness principles replaced the emphasis on graphics with a focus on graphical information which made a significant impact on the effectiveness of operators. This year, however, HMI is turning into OMI (Operations Management Interface) which heralds a new era of visualisation. So the evolutionary curve of industrial process control and information management is going exponential.

Which begs the question of where will things be next year? We’ll have to wait and see but we already have some pointers.

The Internet of Things is bringing an avalanche of connectivity possibilities and forcing cleverer ways of transforming data into decision-support information. At the same time, the Cloud is lowering hardware and software infrastructure costs by providing ready and secure accessibility to computing resources as well as the Internet of Services including SaaS (Software as a Service), PaaS (Platform as a Service) and IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service).

Once the technology such as the Industrial Internet of Things, the Cloud and all the industrial information solutions are in place and, most importantly, integrated, industry-specific solutions can be developed and configured to suit any environment faster than one can draw up a list of requirements. What’s gone before are connectivity and information intelligence tools. What’s coming now are the intelligent industry-specific solutions such as showcased this year with water and mining applications.

X-CHANGE 2017 explored some of the latest solutions and approaches available to the production and business aspects of manufacturing and mining companies. Today, this is a complex business and the solutions shown highlighted the fact that the easy integration of these solutions, even from different vendors, was key to overcoming the growing complexities of the industrial market space.

Keynote presentations

What follows are shortened and paraphrased summaries of the three keynote addresses:

Ravi Gopinath, Executive Vice President, Software Business, Schneider Electric

Driving the transformation of the industrial software market

With a sales turnover just short of 25 billion Euros in 2016, Schneider is a global leader in energy management and automation employing more than 160 000 people worldwide.

Central to Schneider’s vision is the domain of energy efficiency and sustainability, resulting in the development of technologies to that end. Schneider’s business focuses on four main areas:

  • Building management – including energy and security systems among others.
  • Energy infrastructure – including most aspects of generation, transmission and distribution.
  • Industry – serving the capital-intensive industries
  • Data centre management – a central and key asset to all companies
Ravi Gopinath

As a software business, we belong to the industry sector of Schneider’s business but we also benefit the other areas. Although our solutions portfolio originated from the oil and gas industry, today we have become highly relevant to an increasing range of industries.

Today, software has become a central element of Schneider Electric’s group strategy which sees software as key to its evolution, integration into its own industry solutions and differentiation in the marketplace. As well as 24 product execution centres worldwide, we also have 10 R&D centres which employ 3000 people worldwide. employ over a thousand people to ensure that we supply industry-leading solutions to our customers. We also have one of the largest group of ecosystem partners consisting of more than 4000 system integrators resulting thousands of developers, all of whom are familiar with our technology.

With software installed in over 100 000 sites and 2 million licences, we have access to the best operations information worldwide. We monitor over 2 billion operating parameters, perform 4 trillion industrial transactions daily and store more than 12 TBytes of information annually. But these statistics are not there to impress. They are the result of decades of evolution which gives us unparalleled insights into the operational needs and problems of our customers.

As a software business, we have two main objectives:

  1. Remain independent of hardware – Even though we are part of a large company with its own platforms, we want our customers to leverage their own chosen assets and have the freedom of choice as to which of our technologies they want to adopt. It’s therefore also our responsibility to ensure that disparate technologies work in concert to the benefit of our customers.
  2. Enable software-led differentiation across the Schneider company – We do this through the implementation of three strategies:
    • We have a market-leading technology portfolio which enables us to deliver industry-specific solutions that reduce time-to-value for our customers and to respond to their changing needs quickly.
    • Grow our solutions to leverage the benefits of available technologies such as the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT – only if it makes sense) and to continue to work with our global ecosystem partners in order to ensure the continued delivery of customer value – as we’ve always done.
    • Recognising the change in consumption models – This means reducing the total cost of ownership using those technologies which best suit the customer. This may include Cloud computing or stand-alone systems and our solutions need to be able to accommodate any of these models.

Market variations such as commodity prices influence the way companies operate. Another is regulatory norms which will become stricter and subject to increasing scrutiny. Then there’s the generational shift which affects the consumption and adoption of technology. All these factors affect the way companies must respond so our technologies have to help them meet these challenges and cope with change in the most agile way possible.

We have identified the following as the four problems our portfolio must address in terms of the business environment:

  1. Production of commodities
  2. Complex and capital-intensive assets
  3. Typically, continuous processes and highly complex connected value chains
  4. An environment where demand/supply is driving the ROI

So, as a software company, we will constantly be looking at engineering, planning and operations, asset management and the real-time world of control and information management – whether on premise, in the Cloud or any combination of both that makes sense.

Our software operates with the world’s largest and most diverse set of automation platforms and we’re enhancing this same software to operate with a much broader set of sensing inputs so that low-cost IIoT solutions can be integrated into the rest of our rich portfolio.

At the end of the day, it’s all about lowering the total cost of ownership with technology that maps directly to the customer’s needs, protects their past investments and looks after their future needs.

Norm Thorlakson, VP HMI & Supervisory, Software Business, Schneider Electric

Product technology, roadmap and release plans

Our portfolio is divided into four main groupings or categories:

Engineering – which includes design, simulation and training for heavy process industry clients. The result is predictable product behaviour and performance as well as trained operators. The scope of this category starts with a blank sheet of paper and ends with a completely designed and simulated plant, such as a refinery, based on raw material availability, location and end-product performance. This knowledge helps to optimise the plant’s performance by refining its design in a loop of continuous improvement. This is all becoming possible through the collation and integration of tools which were previously stand-alone. By cloud-enabling all the operator training, it’s become far more accessible and prevents having to send personnel on training courses. The virtual and augmented reality components of this training makes it all that more real to operators.

Norm Thorlakson

Planning and operations – Here we focus on planning and scheduling by effectively digitising the value chain (e.g. for mining or refining operations). We also address the maintenance of consistency, quality and efficiency gains for our hybrid industry clients that have to operate with lots and batches such as SA Mint or food and beverage customers. Today’s reality is that companies use a large variety of tools to help them with operations but because of this variety, there is no consistency or sharing of data across domains or groups responsible for operations. There is no underlying repository containing a single version of the truth. We are implementing solutions across the planning and scheduling areas that will provide huge operational gains through the facilitation and auditing of workflows. This leads to model-driven and configured rather than programmed MES solutions, which is a major step forward.

While we continue to develop significant new solutions, a major design requirement is to make them easier to use. Once a problem has been addressed, we look at how the solution can be simplified and made easier to assimilate in any environment and this includes the incorporation of the IIoT.

Asset management – How to move beyond the engineering design of assets to their sustainable maintenance, availability and resilience. This includes Enterprise Asset Management, predictive analytics (e.g. using vibration profiles) and condition-based or time-based maintenance among others. But beyond the solution landscape, we want to empower engineers and technicians in the field to be more effective through the use of their own intelligent mobile devices – because that’s where all that asset optimisation intelligence is needed most.

Control and information management – This includes the industry leading platform that we have and its extensions into the realm of the IIoT. So we’ve split the platform into two components:

  • Information Management – This relies predominantly on Wonderware Historian which is now fully Cloud-compatible and which makes its information available anywhere. Now imagine that you’re online in real time with a Cloud-based application that provides you with your production information, in context with your process information and also in context with the visualisation (SCADA/HMI) aspects of that process but enhanced with analytics capability. This is what’s expected by new-hires in industry – and this is where we’re going.
  • Operations control – This includes the SCADA/HMI spectrum of our portfolio and we have a range of offerings in this area to suit virtually any application from a single stand-alone HMI to multi-million tag, multi-purpose, multi-location systems that address the most complex real-time demands of industry. Our aim is to “interbreed” the best features of each of our SCADA/HMI offerings so that they will all inherit the best features of the others. The enhancements to System Platform 2017 and InTouch 2017 will speak for themselves.

Dion Chang – Innovator, creative thinker and walking ideas bank

“Dazed and disoriented and the rise of the machines”

Mr Chang spoke about technology trends, what’s happening in retail and marketing, the state of the economy, the natural world, diplomacy and social and cultural trends – all in context of the computing world and AI.

NOTE: The presentation is the intellectual property of Flux Trends and is copyright.

Dion Chang

Mainstream presentations

Delegates were treated to 45 sessions of new industrial operations and enterprise information technologies, products and approaches designed to help them cope with the increasingly difficult challenges they face on a daily basis. There were too many topics to be listed here but here’s a taste:

The informed enterprise – with the advent of the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) making sense of data has become more important than ever. To this end, Wonderware Intelligence and the increasingly popular FLOW Software featured prominently in their ability to rapidly provide decision support through the collation of data from any number of databases.

A new foundation for operations – Central to the Wonderware landscape is the new release of its unifying foundation product, System Platform 2017, which is host to new variations of InTouch 2017 HMI (mobile HMI with Access Anywhere and Machine Edition for embedded operating systems) as well as InTouch OMI (Operations Management Interface) 2017 – a new visualisation paradigm with new features such as automatically building a navigation tree based on the plant model among many others. Backing this up is Wonderware’s legendary Historian which is now fully Cloud-compatible.

New software releases – These included Wonderware InStudio for Cloud-based system development and Prometheus, the universal automation configurator – Prometheus is the world’s first end-to-end lifecycle manager for Control Systems that ensures 100% integrity when making changes across PLCs, RTUs or HMIs in real time. Then there was Web Services which automatically builds ArchestrA Objects from PLC code and Wonderware Online and InSight – a comprehensive suite of cloud-based process history and intelligence solutions comprising a fully-fledged process historian as well as an analytical and reporting product which allows users to easily and securely explore their data anywhere and at any time.

Wonderware partners – ACP, MDT and Software toolbox were there in force. ACP introduced a major release of ThinManager and the ease with which it can be configured for mobile-enabled applications. MDT’s AutoSave for System Platform showed the benefits of automatic software archiving for disaster recovery and system security while Software Toolbox showed major enhancements to its TOP Sever and Omniserver products and how Galaxy Toolbox enhances Wonderware’s HMI offerings including InTouch OMI.

Industry-specific solutions – These included a water network optimisation suite, a production line performance solution for food & beverage and CPG and an integrated planning and optimisation solution for Mining, Minerals and Metals.

User presentations

20 end-user and system integrator presentations illustrated the successful application of Wonderware solutions in a number of projects and industries. Here are some of them:

Clover SA improves development life cycle through simplified design methodologies and standardisation:  In a dynamic organisation such as Clover SA, automation systems standardisation can deliver great value in project implementation, maintainability and operability. The successful implementation of these standards ensures seamless integration with all stakeholders in the system lifecycle with significant improvements in project and development costs as well as project execution time and commercialisation. Elegant design principles at the visualisation level have a positive impact on training, project hand-over dates and help operational staff react to abnormal conditions quickly.

Clover SA saves over two hours every day through improved production intelligence and reporting: Clover uses Wonderware System Platform with Historian and Flow Software to get more insight into day-to-day stock levels, production volumes and operator behaviour. This has resulted in reduced operational costs as well as improved inventory management – so much so that the implementation cost was recovered within two months.

SAB tracks the revenue generated by profit improvement projects to ensure that they progress rather than regress: SAB uses Wonderware Historian and Flow Software to track the profitable contribution of projects and to ensure that they deliver the performance for which they were designed rather than regressing –as was the case with an electricity usage improvement initiative whose massive savings suddenly stopped and where the system helped indicate where intended actions were not followed.

SAB and Wonderware – a two-decade relationship that’s stood the test of time: South Africa’s leading brewer, SAB has seen great success over the years. With global competition entering the market place it was very important to implement systems, support structures and standards that would keep SAB at the leading edge of the brewing industry. Given the company’s nation-wide operations, the costly and time-consuming maintenance of systems was, among others, one of the   issues that Wonderware helped SAB address. This is an overview of some important milestones and key decisions in SAB’s lengthy and successful relationship with Wonderware.

Sibanye Gold achieves huge energy savings through centralised power control: Sibanye uses System Platform to collect real-time energy data from all operations within the company and has integrated this with their enterprise system. According to ICT Manager P.J. Jansen van Rensburg, some of the tools that helped them implement their Total Power Control Module were the Wonderware reusable templates and the ability of Wonderware solutions to integrate with third-party systems. The result has been massive savings in electrical energy costs through the consolidation of many DSM projects.

Major SCADA upgrade gives Tiger Brands the decision support they were looking for: With the previous system, Tiger Brands couldn’t be informed of certain plant changes (such as process limits or alarms) in real-time, weren’t able to determine what happened in the past and couldn’t track who did what on the SCADA system. For the sake of the operators, the new Wonderware-based solution was made to look and feel like the old system. SI AM Systems Integration used System Platform, InTouch, Historian, SmartGlance and Flow Software – a major contributor especially considering that there was no easy way of generating reports in the past. All this together with virtualisation and RAID technology gave Tiger Brands the depth of production knowledge they needed for the present and future.

Woodlands Dairy cuts water cost and raw material usage thanks to easily-implemented real-time reporting: Previously, reports at Woodlands were limited and only accessible via the automation network. Changes to the reports were not scalable and manual data capturing took days to be shared with relevant stakeholders with the result that deviations were only noticed after months of wastage. But thanks to Flow Software’s flexibility and ease of configuration, Woodlands’ water usage was cut by 10% as leaks were identified immediately. There has also been a noticeable reduction in the use of caustic and acid raw materials..


X-Change Open Awards

  • The Best HMI / SCADA application award: Woodlands Dairy
  • The Best Industrial Information Management application award: Clover SA
  • The Best Manufacturing Operations Management application award: Sibanye Gold
Woodlands Dairy

Woodlands Dairy receives the Best HMI / SCADA application award

Clover SA

Clover SA gets the Best Industrial Information Management award

Sibanye Gold

Sibanye Gold accepts the Best Manufacturing Operations Management award

Innovation award

Every year, one company stands out for its novel use of Wonderware technology to solve industrial problems. This year it was the turn of system integrator Systems Anywhere for their most innovative and exceptional implementation of a model-driven MES solution.

Special recognition award

For twenty years of partnership that has helped pioneer the ArchestrA technology of System Platform as well as their unparalleled cooperation, this award went to SAB.

Systems Anywhere

The Innovation award went to Systems Anywhere


SAB receives the well-earned Special Recognition award

Flow Application Award

The award for the most innovative implementation of FLOW Software went to Clover SA for their realisation of a solution that gives them more insight into day-to-day stock levels, production volumes and operator behaviour.

Ursula du Plessis

Ursula du Plessis accepts the Flow Application Award from Wonderware Southern Africa’s Jaco Markwat (left) and Deon van Aardt


Advansys received the Top System Integrator award

Top system integrator award

System integrators are ranked according to licence revenue for the period 1 April 2016 to 31 March 2017:

Top system integrator: Advansys

Runner-up:           Iritron
2nd runner-up:     Control Systems Integration
3rd runner-up:      Business Connexion
4th runner-up:      Control Software Solutions

Schneider Electric certified system integrator awards

This award went to the most recently-qualified system integrators who have shown their understanding of Wonderware solutions and their successful application:

  • Age Technologies
  • ICS Trading
  • PCS Global
  • Saryx Engineering Group

System integrator award for the greatest number of Wonderware-certified engineers

  • Control Systems Integration

Best Presenter Award

Leonard Smith, Wonderware Southern Africa

Leonard Smith

Leonard Smith gets the Best Presenter award

Collaboration Expo

Collaboration Expo

22 local and international hardware and software solution vendors demonstrated their real solutions to real problems. Every year, these industry solution providers choose the unique opportunities offered by X-CHANGE to network with existing and potential customers and to showcase their capabilities. From instrumentation to software and from consulting to system integration, these solution suppliers are at the top of their game and combine their skills, knowledge and experience with Wonderware solutions to provide world-class implementations to Africa and beyond.

But why collaboration? Wonderware solutions alone may not be able to fix the problem. They may require the expert implementation of professional system integrators and other solution providers who are keenly aware of the problems their end-users are facing. And then there are the complementary hardware and software solutions required to provide end-users the cost-effective value and customised solutions they’re looking for.  This is the world of Collaboration Partners who chose X-CHANGE 2017 to showcase their professional solutions. After all, they’re mostly responsible for the process control and information sourcing, processing and delivery aspect of most mining and manufacturing companies in South Africa and in the rest of the continent

X-Change 2017 Exhibitors


An event like X-CHANGE takes more than six months to plan and organise. From the invitation of international guests and call for presentations to venue logistics and awareness campaigns, this is no casual event and Wonderware Southern Africa would like to thank everyone who contributed towards making X-CHANGE 2017 the success it deserved to be on this, the 25th anniversary of the longest-running and most successful conference of its type on the continent.

We also want to thank media partner Technews for their continued support over the years as well as before and during the conference.


Still number one and for good reason – Delegates saw that Wonderware remains number one in HMI / SCADA, MOM and IIM and that robust plans are in place to keep it that way. These plans centre on meeting and excelling the needs of the various industries in which we’re involved and include such aspects as improving process engineering efficiency, profitable and optimal operations and asset management as well as effective decision support anywhere and at any time.

Making sense of it all – Delegates also saw that trendy issues such as Big Data and the Industrial Internet of Things are no strangers to Wonderware who’s been doing it for years. The challenge today is not connectivity to data sources that will proliferate exponentially with the advent of low-cost sensing technology but how to transform, cross-correlate and contextualise all this data into decision-support information across the enterprise – easily.

Industry-specific approach – Since there’s no room in the current world economy for mistakes, delegates could appreciate the drive towards out-of-the-box industry-specific solutions that can be rapidly configured to suit the unique needs of individual companies for a quicker and lower cost approach to wealth generation.

What did delegates take away? – The most important take-away was probably that current and planned industrial software process control and information technologies exceed current needs and expectations – and yet, they offer some alluring prospects for increased wealth creation much faster than ever before. So, perhaps the question delegates are asking themselves is: “If my thoughts can be turned into reality, what should I be thinking about next?” Previously, the excuse for not doing this would be cost and uncertainty about the outcome. Thankfully, that’s no longer valid.

And a final word: Great technology alone does not disrupt, change or innovate. That’s the job of the early adopters and innovators. We have proved over the past 25 years, as a user community, that all operational challenges can be overcome, business objectives can be met and that the impossible will be transformed into reality.

X-CHANGE 2018: Call for Presentations

Whether you’re an end user or system integrator, use X-CHANGE to showcase your success. That’s what ten of them did at X-CHANGE 2017 and what we’re asking you to consider for Wonderware’s 26th User Conference, X-CHANGE 2018.


  • If you’re an end user, your stakeholders (and that includes your staff) will see that you’re maximising their investment and effort and you will retain their trust in your company. Also, as an end user, you can attend this prestigious event totally free of charge if your presentation is accepted. Together with the article, it’s like someone just gave you R18000 and a lot of really useful information at one of South Africa’s best resorts and conference venues. What’s not to like?
  • If you’re a system integrator, you can show prospective customers what you can do and get more business by proving your expertise instead of just talking about it.
  • Whether end user or SI, beyond X-CHANGE, you will reach thousands more professionals nationally and internationally through a professional article about your project that you can also use for your own marketing and sales efforts as well as at board meetings to justify further profitable improvements based on past successes.

This is the longest-running, most popular and trusted venue of its type on the continent that shows the most qualified audience and industry professionals in Southern Africa the benefits you have experienced through implementing Wonderware solutions. We’ve been refining this event for 25 years so that everyone can win.

For more information, contact Denis du Buisson at ddb@iafrica.com – act now – don’t leave it to the last minute. You may think 11 months is fair warning so why do we always get last-minute submissions? Surely you know how to control time – real time?