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Architects Integrating Industry (Ai2SA), specializing in the specifications of Industrial Control & Information Systems, through this value proposition, wishes to illustrate savings and business performance improvement realized using Industrial Automation Systems.

What is Industrial Automation?

Industrial Automation makes use of control system devices such as Programmable Logic Controllers (PLCs), Computers, Tablets, Mobile Phones etc. to allow machines/processes to run autonomously with little to no operator action/intervention.


Why use Industrial Automation?

There are many benefits of using Industrial Automation, which are largely focused on improving production rate, accuracy/quality (error is greatly reduced) and safety of both people and machine/equipment. A large misconception with Industrial Automation is “to take the job of the operator”, however through careful analysis, the operator is greatly aided in performing his/her duties since the Industrial Automation system is a complementary system which improves operator performance by reducing error, ensuring safety and speeding up tasks/processes.


Understanding the value of Industrial Automation: A case study

Ai2SA was recently contracted by a new client who had purchased a pelletizing press machine from an international OEM. As stated by the client, the machine was running at around 40% of its full potential/capacity. Upon careful inspection of the PLC’s (i.e. controller used to automate the machine) software code, it was observed that the software code was “free-running” in that the machine “steps and cycles” we not programmed in accordance with robust software programming standards/guidelines. The Supervisory And Data Acquisition (SCADA) system was implemented using a small Human Machine Interface (HMI) to provide the operator with basic visualization and configuration options. The HMI software quality was sub-standard in that there were no alarms, production statistics etc. that are normally found on such devices.

The graph below depicts different “cash flow” scenarios (using Return On Investment (ROI)), whereby Expected refers to what the machine’s intended ROI supposed to be, Actual refers to the ROI without software corrections and Corrected refers to the ROI after software corrections (i.e. machine at 100%).


The graph above illustrates that had the machine continued to operate as it was, the pay back period would be around 2-3 years for pay back. After Ai2SA corrections were made, the pay back and subsequent profitability is greatly improved (from 40% to 100% production efficiency), pay back time of 1 year and the gradient would be the same as what the machine was originally designed for.

Lessons Learnt/Conclusions

  1. The customer had lost an estimated R1M due to poor programming standards.
  2. It would have cost the customer an extra R150K to commission the machine to 100% efficiency if the international OEM was flown to site to commission.
  3. While the project had very tight deadlines, Ai2SA did not compromise on quality, particularly safety.
  4. It is preferred that Industrial Automation equipment that is installed should have a wide support structure within South Africa, in this instance, both the PLC and HMI were unpopular in South Africa thus increasing programming time.
  5. Even though Industrial Automation equipment comprises of a small percentage of the entire machine cost, if it is improperly programmed, the yield of the machine is greatly affected even if other “disciplines” such as mechanical, electrical and process instrumentation components are of excellent quality. One can not function without a brain.

Client Testimonial

Maintenance Manager: “Built in India, perfected in South Africa”

Production Manager: “This machine is now a Rolls Royce!”

Please feel free to clarify any aspect of the information enclosed.

Petrus Klopper
SAIMC Tshwane Branch Committee (Vice Chairman, Secratary & Technology) and
National Committee (Professional Service / Standards Sub-Committee)
082 559 7437


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