South Africanmanufacturing: Hercules Plant

Southern African cement manufacturer PPC has partnered with energy services company HVAC to relieve pressure off the national electricity grid through predictive production software.

The international energy service company has supplied PPC’s Hercules plant in Pretoria with technology that assists in monitoring power consumption and production levels to ensure production at peak times is done efficiently.

Commenting on the software purchase, Egmont Ottermann, group energy manager at PPC, said: “We have been working with HVAC since 2006, constantly trying to optimise the performance of our equipment so we can minimise electrical costs. Essentially, this software helps us monitor factory production and silo levels to ensure stock levels are high enough for us to switch off a unit during peak times.”

Load shifting for large power users

According to Ottermann, the Hercules plant can use an estimated 10MW of power when its larger machinery are in operation.

“Load shifting is an important part of reducing the likelihood of load shedding and, although each single contribution seems as if it is just a drop in the ocean, everyone needs to do their part. I encourage everyone to participate and shift as much load as possible,” Ottermann added.

With the looming power crisis temporarily under control Otterman believes it is imperative for businesses alike to integrate energy efficient technology to reduce the stress should the country be susceptible to further blackouts.

Ottermann continued: “By cutting our peak time use, we can allow that electricity to be distributed elsewhere”, minimising the demand pressure on the national grid.

The energy efficient software has been installed in four additional PPC plants across the country, plugging directly into the cement company’s control panels.

Load shedding affecting manufacturing

Earlier this year, South African packaging company Astrapak revealed its loss of ZAR2 million ($171 720) as a result of recurring rolling blackouts.

The manufacturing firm has suffered losses which they are determined to recover by planning a two-year recovery strategy, focusing on improving overall performance.

According to the Steel and Engineering Federation of South Africa, the growth of the South African manufacturing industry has been hindered by intermittent power cuts, resulting in a 2.5% sector decrease in 2014.

(Pic Credits: PPC cement)