The mining sector is growing rapidly in Africa, however Africa also suffers from complex power issues due in part to its under-developed domestic infrastructure. Heavy industries, such as mining, experience intermittent grid power supply, while off grid suppliers suffer logistics challenges associated with the supply of fuel. Both issues continually disrupt operations, affecting costs, emissions, productivity and operational efficiency.
Using the V-CUBE, our IoT data extraction gateway, VoltVision acquires high resolution category 1 power data from high or medium voltage electrical equipment across the whole or part of an industrial electrical network. Our technology is a retrofit solution requiring NO CAPEX and with an average ROI of 3-6 months. We install onto incumbent electrical equipment no matter its age or manufacturer.
Our expert electrical team use this data to build end-to-end power visibility providing our clients with a complete power profile. Using a series of simple but highly relevant dashboards, displayed on ViViD, our cloud-based AI platform, we help clients better understand where their power is coming from, how it is behaving and where it is being used. This knowledge enables clients to transform the way they manage their operations from a power point of view, helping them to maximise efficiencies. VoltVision helps clients reduce their power consumption and CO2 emissions by up to 10%, power costs by up to 15% and also to reduce asset downtime.
VoltVision works with Tier 1 and 2 mining companies who have operations globally. We’ve recently had particular success helping clients in Africa, supporting these companies to overcome a number of complex but common power issues in the region, including:
Understanding and Preventing Trip Events
There are a variety of things that may cause the power to trip on site. This could be due to poor power quality coming from the grid or within the onsite network, or both! At VoltVision we enable our clients to identify and correct the root causes of power trips. For example:
- Voltage Imbalance and Frequency Fluctuations– These are becoming more common as renewable energy, from sources such as solar farms, is increasingly being integrated into the wider grid in Africa. VoltVision can monitor supply grid voltages and frequencies. This allows clients to manage voltage alignment between phases more accurately and better identify the root cause of an outage. VoltVision’s time-stamped data allows clients to provide feedback to utilities companies, using auditable, robust evidence.
- Sub-Optimal Protection Relay Settings – Over the lifetime of a power network, individual power relays and electrical equipment will change and be updated. This can result in the settings across the ‘whole system’ becoming sub-optimal, resulting in local outages. Insights from VoltVision’s ViViD dashboards allow clients to optimise the setup of electrical protection relays, thus reducing downtime due to ‘nuisance tripping’.
- Harmonics – VoltVision monitors and displays the total harmonic distortion produced by Variable Speed Drives (VSD). This can provide early warnings of any developing VSD faults, assist with the design and integration of harmonic filters and better manage compliance of the IEEE’s rule of not exceeding 2% current Total Harmonic Distortion (THD).
Managing Power Usage
There are many areas of “power usage” that need careful management to qualify an operator as “responsible” in how it uses power. In many parts of Africa this is difficult, but if done well significant efficiencies are available to clients, in some cases up to 10% reduction in static power costs and emissions:
- Power Factor – VoltVision also monitors and displays power factor at the client distribution and equipment level. By locating bad power factor at this level we give clients the ability to make corrections at source, improving efficiency of the whole electrical system.
- Reactive Power – VoltVision monitors and displays reactive power flow between distribution points allowing clients to control reactive power. This improves efficiencies of off-grid power generation such as solar.
- Diesel Generators – Sites operating diesel generators need to understand how those generators are working as a group, and if they are being run as efficiently as possible given factors like the demand requirement and environment. VoltVision provide data that assists the definition and management of optimal running profiles.
- Billing Verification –VoltVision’s meter readings are automated, time-stamped and therefore auditable, meaning they can be used to accurately compare and if necessary challenge any utility billing discrepancies or over-charging.
- Maximum Demand – Management of Maximum Demand allows clients to smooth out usage curves reducing power thresholds allowances and reduce the likelihood of fines associated with breaches.
- Process Analysis – Better understanding of how blends impact cost of processing, this allows clients to better monitor crushing circuits and design efficient processing.
- Integration and Optimisation of Renewable Energy on Site – Due to a lack of grid power supply and the pressure to switch to renewable energy sources, mining companies in Africa are taking advantage of the sunny climate and investing in solar energy on site to provide an alternative power supply. VoltVision can build accurate power profiles for clients, ensuring the sizing and integration of a new power sources are correct, reducing project risk (integration failures) and CAPEX.
Managing Power Blackouts
Regardless of the measures taken mining companies on the grid in Africa are often subject to complete power outages. VoltVision’s real time data and analysis gives clients instant knowledge of when power is restored, allowing clients to:
- See when the power is stable enough to safely re-connect to the grid after an outage rather than re-joining at the wrong time and causing the system to trip again, and
- Understand the root cause of the outage, whether it’s an internal or external issue and then feed this information back to their utility provider.
All of this minimises the disruption these events cause, reducing downtime and reliance on generators.
Our time stamped data allows clients to build and automate bespoke internal reporting (against KPI’s) required across different operational business centres. This auditable data gives a client the ability to baseline emissions numbers and then report improvements, independently, across multiple ESG frameworks.
Supports Multiple Operations Teams
Our solution supports decision makers at all technical levels from junior onsite engineers to senior staff at head office. Our ViViD platform has been designed for easy use providing active support to busy teams running complex processes. It acts as a constant across multiple departments when critical staff are on “rotation” by allowing global access.
Operating mines in remote areas brings additional challenges that can be mitigated by centralised monitoring. VoltVision’s solutions are not only easily and remotely installed using our V-CUBE, but they allow for centralised and continuous power monitoring and controlled power capability, so that the data and analysis can be accessed as easily as onsite in Africa as from your headquarters in Toronto.
VoltVision’s unique approach to power digitisation supports mining companies overcome power issues in Africa. We do this by acquiring hard to get high resolution category 1 power data and combining it with our ‘Advanced Analytics’ to give clients the automated information, needed by skilled and semi skilled operators, to maximise the efficiency of high and medium voltage power networks. This power transparency allows mining operators to reduce their power consumption and CO2 emissions by up to 10%, their power costs by up to 15% and also to reduce asset downtime.