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African Petrochemicals is South Africa’s leading quarterly print and digital trade magazine for the past 15 years. Featuring all the latest petrochemical industry news, special reports, technological advances and much more.

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Mining needs to embrace Industry 4.0

As one of the oldest industries in the world, mining has played a critical part in human development, since the Bronze Age. It has survived various Industrial Revolutions, the first round about 250 years ago. Now again, the mining industry will have to transform and upskill itself once again.

Challenges faced by the mining industry today like increasing production costs, depressed commodity prices and the high cost of electricity, are forcing the mining sector to embrace the Fourth Industrial Revolution as it brings industrial transformation.

Such developments will bring the training colleges and artisan training centers to the forefront again, as workers now need to be upskilled to work alongside technology in the mining sector.

Modern technology and the artisan:

Modern technology creates a demand for skilled labour, and that is why the Colliery Training College raised to the occasion. They are the first training college to roll out with the initiative of Artisan 4.0, a trademark pending registration by them.

When asked to explain what the term Artisan 4.0 means, Johan Venter commented as follows, “Artisan 4.0 will still carry a toolbox similar to that of her father and grandfather; she will still know all about bearings, gearboxes and sequence starters because the basic principles of mechanics, electricity, forces and motion have not changed. The thing that will distinguish her from her father and grandfather is that she will communicate with her equipment via the Internet of Things. She will not only know that the pump in her plant has stopped; she will also know why. The pump, its motor and control systems will be connected to an industrial network She will know everything about internet protocols, IP addresses; how to set up networks, how to configure wireless devices.  Her smartphone and her tablet computer will be alongside her set of sockets and screwdrivers in her toolbox.”

Technological breakthroughs will benefit the mining sector as a whole. And by upskilling the workforce, socioeconomic conditions of the workers will improve.  Industry 4.0 with the current trend of automation and the data exchange in the industrial environment and technologies, includes the Industrial Internet of Things as well as cloud-based systems. It leads to improved safety and security, efficiency and therefore reducing production costs. It also has a positive effect as Johan explained on the maintenance load of the mine- as preventative maintenance can be done. Communication between machines and the plant maintenance staff reduces downtime as well as prevent complete breakdowns. That, in turn, leads to higher productivity and ultimately higher profits.

Conclusion:

“Industry 4.0 is a reality and can’t be stopped. It is up to us as training facilities to bridge the gap and upskill our workforce, as well as equipping the new artisans of today with the skillset that they will need to thrive in this revolution,” he mentions.

CTC is working closely with its stakeholders as well as interested parties to address the demands in regard to training for artisans ready for the industrial revolution.

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