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Industry 4.0 Gets A Wake-Up Call: The Need For Digital Transformation In Mining

Industry 4.0 Gets A Wake-Up Call: The Need For Digital Transformation In Mining

The COVID-19 pandemic has had profound effects on our lives that transcend health-related matters. It has forced entire industries to rethink operational processes and core business fundamentals, and one of the most remarkable outcomes is the acceleration of digital transformation strategies.

In mining, where adoption of Industry 4.0 traditionally has lagged behind other industries, restrictions imposed by the pandemic served as a wake-up call to automate and get connected. With much of the workforce having to work from home, mining companies were forced to evaluate their processes and technologies to embrace industrial transformation to drive agility and operational efficiencies.

Obviously, no amount of connectivity can entirely remove humans from mining operations, but companies discovered that many tasks that can be performed remotely. This realization isn’t exclusive to mining; 63 per cent of C-suite and technology leaders said in a recent survey that COVID-19 accelerated their digital transformation efforts. And 49 per cent said digital transformation became a priority only after the pandemic started.

In mining, the acceleration of digitization has manifested itself in various ways, primarily industrial automation and the implementation of remotely managed data-driven systems designed to improve day-to-day operations and lay the groundwork for predictive maintenance. Remote connectivity has various applications in mining, from tracking assets and workers to equipment monitoring to troubleshooting. With troubleshooting, technicians on site can connect remotely to engineers who walk them through the steps to fix or restart a piece of equipment.

Modernizing mining operations for Industry 4.0

Digital transformation in mining is no easy task. It requires a lot of planning and vision. Legacy technology and electrical equipment must be replaced, and communications protocols need to be updated. It isn’t uncommon to find Windows XP and Windows 7 still in use. Companies now are replacing those systems with Windows 10 and virtual machines that connect to cloud infrastructures and edge computing networks.

The networks themselves also must be updated. Mining operations are replacing coaxial cables with Ethernet connections and converting from older communications protocols such as Modbus RTU to Ethernet Modbus/TCP. The newer protocol supports the convergence of IT and Operational Technology (OT), and enables remote management and easier access to data. As such, network updates are key to the implementation of data capture and analytics systems that enable real-time monitoring and predictive maintenance.

To support IT/OT convergence and connected operations, the mining industry is deploying Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) and edge computing networks. IIoT networks transmit data captured from on-site sensors and edge networks, which make it possible to process and analyze the data in real time by keeping it as close to sources and users as possible.

Digital transformation challenges for Industry 4.0

All the changes taking place in mining raise several challenges. Perhaps the biggest one involves securing IP-connected systems against cyber threats. As mining operations deploy new systems and become connected, they must ensure that everything is protected through cybersecurity best practices and technologies. Cyberattacks are an ever-present danger as evidenced by recent ransomware attacks against the Colonial Pipeline, and meatpacker JBS. To help protect against cyber dangers, in 2017 six mining companies formed a non-profit group to share threat information and security best practices.

Other challenges involve operational safety and the need for expertise to plan and execute digital transformation. Most companies don’t possess all the requisite technical expertise and experience for digital transformation on their own.

Graybar Canada helps mining customers gain agility and resilience with digitization projects with a full complement of value-added services, from conception and planning to execution and to post-implementation management. Graybar works with clients to implement systems that provide visibility into their environments as well as remote access and data collection to drive business decisions, both in real time and for long-term strategic decisions.

Access digital transformation resources

Graybar Canada automation specialists work with clients to develop proofs of concept, map solutions to outcomes, and provide the guidance and training to extract maximum value from digitization investments. The partnership between Graybar and Schneider Electric is essential to achieving this mission. Schneider Electric’s EcoStruxure™ for Industry platform delivers visibility and remote monitoring and management to improve efficiency and safety for workers and processes.

Working with Schneider Electric enables Graybar to provide systems and services to optimize asset performance and enable remote work, providing remote access for troubleshooting (Secure Connect), anytime/anywhere access for diagnosis (Augmented Operator), and a cloud-based services platform that remotely tracks equipment (Machine Advisor).

Graybar works with Schneider’s technical support experts and Schneider Alliance Partners to help with commissioning and post-implementation services. Its end-to-end service approach is designed to help customers, not only in mining but also other industries, to fully embrace digital transformation so they can better compete in the 21st century.

Graybar Canada was recently nominated as a Master Alliance Industrial Automation Distributor – the only company in North America to be nominated for this prestigious title. Through the Schneider Electric Alliance Partner Program for Industrial Automation Distributors, companies are empowered to develop new capabilities to better support the digital transformation of customers and strengthen business resiliency.

Learn more about how Graybar Canada and Schneider Electric solutions can support Industry 4.0 efforts by visiting www.se.com/ca/en/partners/distributors/industrial-automation/.
SOURCE Schneider Electric Canada Inc.

 

Huawei Connect 2021: Diving Into Digital

Huawei Connect 2021: Diving Into Digital

Huawei unveiled breakthrough innovations in several different domains, providing a first look at its comprehensive digital infrastructure range. Several of these innovations are completely new and have never been seen before outside of Huawei’s labs. The release highlighted how these products and solutions are set to shape digital infrastructure for the next decade.


Huawei’s annual flagship event for the global ICT industry – HUAWEI CONNECT 2021 – officially kicked off on September 23, 2021 at Shenzhen, China. This year’s event, themed “Dive into Digital”, explores how digital technology can better integrate with business scenarios and industry know-how to address critical business challenges, and how stakeholders can work together more effectively to foster an open industry ecosystem and drive shared success.

The event schedules four keynotes, five summits, and 66 sessions, featuring more than 200 speakers, including industry visionaries, business leaders, top tech experts, and ecosystem partners. It is live-streamed in 11 languages on Huawei’s corporate website and by its media partners. The event also featured online exhibitions, remote visits to exhibition halls, and open panel discussions, enabling online interaction and one-stop experiences.

Huawei Rotating Chairman Eric Xu graced the event with a keynote speech titled “Innovating Nonstop for Faster Digitalization”.In his keynote, Xu spoke about how helping industries go digital is a critical aspect of Huawei’s mission to bring digital to every person, home, and organization for a fully connected, intelligent world.

Xu said, “Digital development relies on digital technology. For digital technology to stay relevant, we must continue to innovate and create value. Cloud, AI, and networks are three critical digital technologies.” Xu then shared some of the progress Huawei has made in these three areas, what Huawei is doing to enable low-carbon development, and where the industry as a whole is heading.

At the event, Xu launched the industry’s first distributed, cloud-native service called UCS – a ubiquitous cloud-native service available on HUAWEI CLOUD. With UCS, Huawei plans to provide enterprises with a consistent experience while using cloud-native applications that are not constrained by geographical, cross-cloud, or traffic limitations, thereby accelerating digital transformation in all industries.

Xu also introduced Huawei’s innovations in the network domain. As organizations go digital, they tend to see exponential growth in network complexity. To tackle this, Huawei has been innovating solutions for global networks based on the concept of autonomous driving network (ADN). The company has been working with customers in the finance, education, and healthcare sectors to innovate and deploy new applications, and build networks that are self-fulfilling, self-healing, self-optimizing, and autonomous.

Xu went on to explain how Huawei is using digital technology to support low-carbon development, as part of global efforts to achieve peak CO2 emissions and carbon neutrality.

Specifically, Huawei focuses on three key initiatives:

  1. Investing and innovating in energy-saving technologies to deliver more energy-efficient ICT products for a low-carbon ICT industry;
  2. Investing in innovations where power electronics and digital technologies converge to promote clean energy and the digitalization of traditional energy; and
  3. Providing digital technology to help all sectors go digital and low-carbon.

Zhang Ping’an, CEO of Cloud BU and President of Huawei Consumer Cloud Service, elaborated on HUAWEI CLOUD’s strategic initiatives and launched new services and products at the event. “HUAWEI CLOUD joins our customers and partners to dive into digital and explore the potential of Everything as a Service – Infrastructure as a Service for global accessibility, Technology as a Service for flexible innovation, and Expertise as a Service for shared excellence,” says Zhang.

Zhang also announced two new Regions in Mexico and China’s Ulanqab, and launched 10 new HUAWEI CLOUD services. The announcement included MacroVerse – HUAWEI CLOUD aPaaS, OptVerse AI Solver, HUAWEI CLOUD Stack 8.1, SparkRTC – a real-time audio and video service, and Pangu, a large model for drug molecules.

Customers and partners in attendance included Christophe Ozer, Head of Orange Cloud (Orange Flexible Engine) APAC; Wu Qiang, Vice President of Tianjin Port Holdings; Chen Haining, General Manager of IT Dept from Shanghai Pudong Development Bank; and Jiang Chuanrong, Chairman of Shanghai Mirror Pictures.

Xu concluded his speech with, “Nonstop innovation has been the driving force behind digitalization thus far. Moving forward, if we hope to reach more ambitious goals for digitalization, nonstop innovation will continue to be key. So let’s innovate nonstop for a better future.”

Huawei hosts HUAWEI CONNECT 2021 online from September 23 to October 31. 

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168 Motion Plastics Innovations From The Home Office

168 Motion Plastics Innovations From The Home Office

In a difficult environment, more innovations than last year – from the integrated robot drive up to the ball bearing with 21 times the service life

igus increases the pace of innovation despite the pandemic: high investments in digitalisation, logistics and remote consulting increased online sales by 30 per cent in 2020 and mitigated the decline in sales by 4.8 per cent. The motion plastics specialist is also breaking new ground in terms of sustainability and product innovation, and will be presenting more innovations than ever before with 168 tribo-polymer products in spring 2021.

Last year, the turnover of the motion plastics specialist igus fell by 4.8 per cent to 727 million euros in the wake of the Corona crisis. The company is optimistic for the current year, thanks to a significant increase in incoming orders. In addition, the pandemic period has led to a surge in innovation when working from home. The result is 168 new products, product extensions and digital offers this spring, more than ever before. igus will be giving a first preview at the Hannover Messe Digital Edition. The company will also be presenting all its spring news at its own physical-virtual trade show. It has just been awarded the “iF Design Award” and will be completely renewed for visitors from 5th May.

ReBeL accelerates cost-effective automation

After two years of development, the ReBeL, a new robot drive element, can be seen at the igus exhibition. Customers can construct their own robot arms quickly and cost-effectively from the modular kit. The core of the ReBeL is a greatly improved plastic gearbox. An integrated BLDC electric motor with power electronics can be connected to various controls. In addition, a suitable low-cost control system from igus is available free of charge as a download, so that the automation can be simulated in advance. In the field of “large” industrial robotics, igus is launching the TRX energy supply system, a solution that rethinks the subject of robot hose packs. The energy supply system twists, lengthens and shortens in a spiral, and cables are inserted in the form of a spiral. This enables a weight saving of 83 per cent on the 3rd axis, in less than half the space.

Dry-operating ball bearings with 21 times the service life

igus will also be presenting news in all areas of lubrication-free and maintenance-free bearing technology. In the case of ball bearings, the engineers at igus achieved a breakthrough in service life. In the application cases of low loads and high speeds, this was increased by a factor of 21. “What used to last a month now lasts almost two years”, explains Lena Woelke, the Development Manager for xiros ball bearings. Applications are found especially in fans or centrifuges

Plastic becomes a sustainable resource

How these lubrication-free plastic products not only have less impact on the environment during use, but are also produced in a CO2 neutral manner and recycled afterwards is part of the igus mission. The new factory building currently under construction will be climate neutral from the outset, and this will apply to the entire igus factory by 2025. To further reduce emissions, igus invests in modern technologies, for example, in extraction systems and filters; injection moulding machines that save up to 40 per cent energy and are barely audible have been purchased in large numbers. In addition to mechanical recycling in the chainge product range, igus also relies on new types of chemical recycling. Thus, igus increased its investment in Mura Technology to 5 million euros. Mura’s HydroPRS technology converts plastic waste back into oil. Investments increased by 29 per cent overall in 2020.

Investments in digitalisation and capacities bring customers forward

A significant part of the investments went into online shops and online tools. All webshops were renewed and made more informative for customers. New online tools for the configuration and calculation of gears, rollers, linear modules and stepper motors are accessible on the Internet free of charge and without registration. At the same time, igus expanded its stock at every location in the world. In addition to the USA with 23,000 individual parts and Europe with 88,000, 21,000 parts are now available in China in 24 to 48 hours and are assembled by igus in millions of models. The offer of easy online configuration and ordering together with the short delivery time was welcomed by many customers. Online sales increased by 30 per cent worldwide. The early expansion of machine and raw material warehouse capacities from the 3rd quarter of 2020 still ensures fast delivery times in the phase of a rapid economic recovery now.

Change as a duty and an opportunity

“Politics, technology, mobility, entertainment, climate and health – the world is changing rapidly at the moment”, says igus CEO Frank Blase. “We want to be active shapers. So I am proud of the igus colleagues for how they have applied themselves, changed and improved during these times.” The teams have been working predominantly from home since 13th March 2020. The offer for a self-determined quota of home office days with few rules and precise measurability is provided by igus until the end of 2022. At the same time, the company is experimenting with new work spaces and forms of on-site collaboration. “For our industry, the fact that everything is changing, absolutely everything, means everyone is making new products, and everyone needs new machines. This can trigger an enormous boom for our customers and us in the next few years.”

 

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