Continually evolving technology and ever-increasing digitisation in industry have created an environment where a symbiotic relationship is developing with IT and OT. This convergence of technology has the potential to take company operations, people and safety into a new era of efficiency.

For example, together with Cisco, Schneider Electric recently helped a major Australian mining conglomerate turn its future visions into reality. To improve the sustainability of its mining operations and attract new workers, the company decided to increase operational automation and control mines remotely.

By establishing centralised regional operations centres, all mines, ports and rail systems are now operated from a single location. Automation with linkage to scheduling systems helps reduce wasted transportation energy while centralised control centres located near major population centres reduce the need for personnel to work in remote locations.

Craig Hudson, MMM segment lead at Schneider Electric. Image credit: Schneider Electric

Craig Hudson, MMM segment lead at Schneider Electric. Image credit: Schneider Electric

Here are some of the key points of the project:

  • An autonomous mine truck system which allows more material to be moved efficiently and safely, increasing productivity. Trucks are operated by a central supervisory system and controller, rather than by individual drivers.
  • Use of Automatic drills so a single operator can operate multiple drill rigs using a console at a remote location.
  • Implementation of automatic train systems with a driver on board only for supervision. This has increased speed across the network and reduced average cycle times

Cisco and Schneider Electric collaborated to supply network and automation equipment for both the mines IT & OT layers, helping the customer to realise millions of rands in savings for their OT team.

By collaborating, the convergence of IT and OT helps customers to securely combine business and process data to yield insights which guide the way to new levels of industrial performance:

  • It allows IT and OT to work together to reduce the cyber-attack surface, responding quickly to threats, and complying with regulations.
  • It helps ensure production integrity and safety by embedding cybersecurity within the OT environment.
  • It improves operational performance, maximising production uptime and sustainability with applied analytics, accurate process modelling, and real-time decision support.

To help our industrial customers with IT/OT convergence Schneider Electric has been working hard to bring more agility than ever into our automation systems like EcoStruxure Automation Expert.