The Nkomati mine is a large mine in the north-east of South Africa near Machadodorp in Mpumalanga.
Nkomati represents one of the largest nickel reserves in South Africa, having estimated reserves of 408.6 million tonnes of ore grading 0.33% nickel.
What was Nkomati’s problems and needs?
Focus areas of the operation include recovery, production rate, quality, equipment availability and reliability. A complex ore body places special demands on decision-making within the processing plants. Nkomati identified the need to extract maximum value from process data.
Investment in instrumentation, control and laboratory analysis generate masses of data. Nkomati requested a service driven solution backed by a structured methodology and technology to extract knowledge from data. Furthermore, the service should communicate information in a way that facilitates training and development of Nkomati staff to enable better and more consistent decision-making. The ultimate goal is to implement a platform to facilitate pro-active management of adverse conditions for process and equipment.
How did Time-in-State®(TIS) help Nkomati?
Time-in-State® (TiS) started working with Nkomati in 2011 and Nkomati have been using their services since. During the service interval Time-in-State® have been used to execute optimization, improvement, root-cause-analysis, deriving process recipes, providing input into strategic planning, training, real-time equipment monitoring, and real-time process monitoring. The project has generated multi-million dollar returns.
How the process ended in success.
Time-in-State® (TiS) provides the needed technology and services to monitor process and equipment used by Nkomati. The implementation delivers almost immediate feedback regarding compliance with strategic objectives and provides early warning of deteriorating plant performance (e.g. more than 12 hour early warning of mill motor failure or advance warning of conditions that may affect mill performance in an hour’s time).
Time-in-State® automatically interprets data to present information that facilitates effective prioritization of tasks and appropriate deployment of scares resources. Laboratory / mineralogy data, process data (levels, flows, temperatures, electrical current, etc.) and costs are all synchronised and interpreted to provide clarrity of the conditions that deliver optimal performance.
Time-in-State® delivered multi-million dollar returns based on initiatives associated with process improvement, cost, energy efficiency, risk mitigation, quality, throughput and equipment performance advances.
Cape Kraft Mill
The Time-in-State intervention was an eye opener to our operational staff at the mill. Time-in-State facilitated workshops and got all departments together to explain the process. The key departments involved were production, engineering, process, logistics, and Sheq. The Time-in-State process allowed us to identify the control parameters to run a controlled process. We knew how to permanently contain these variables, but the solutions were costly. We then opted for a zero cash outlay solution and chose to control the process for only 80% of the time. The other 20% was when the operator could leave the workstation for inspections etc. It took 2 months to change the BOP’s and the behaviour. I can recommend this improvement process with Time-in-State to any industry. Cape Kraft will certainly make use of his services again shortly.
IME has been servicing Neopak since 2015 continuously. During this interval, IME deployed its Time-in-State technology and services to monitor various aspects of the process and equipment. Utilising this technology made it possible to obtain early warning of deteriorating performance. This technology contributed not only towards a better understanding of equipment/process behaviour and process interruption. This predictive capacity is by far one of the strongest features of IME’s TiS methodology. Neopak rates the quality of the technology and services as very effective in providing great value.
BRPM contractor plant, a joint venture with Anglo Platinum
IME utilised their Time-in-State technology and services to identify very specific operating and equipment conditions that associate with higher performance. The PoC was deployed in the milling section of the process, which is a constraint in the process. The technology proved it’s applicability by identifying early warning of a gearbox failure in the matrix of data. The same approach was used to detect the drifting of an instrument measurement – the control system and maintenance personnel didn’t detect this issue. This detection potentially prevented a major process interruption. These events demonstrated effective process monitoring and management of TiS technique.
IME deployed their services to monitor various items of equipment. By utilising this technology, it was possible to obtain early warning signs of deteriorating performance of equipment. In the absence of this technology, the equipment may have failed to result in substantial production losses. Nkomati highly rates the quality of technology and IME’s services. We feel it was highly effective and provided excellent value.
ABB South Africa
IME Solutions has delivered services to ABB since 2010. During this period IME has deployed its Time-in-State technology and services to monitor various aspects of the process and equipment. By utilising this technology, it was possible to obtain insights into plant and equipment performance. The information facilitated the quantification of risk exposure, plant and equipment performance training relative to the optimum state, and general performance improvement. The technology and services were used at various operations including Sappi, Arcelor Mittal, and Skorpion Zink. We rate IME’s quality of services very highly as they provided excellent value towards mitigating risks and optimising our plant process.
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