Tag Archives: process control

Metso Outotec improves process audits and production transparency with new sampler

Metso Outotec says it is launching a versatile Linear Metallurgical Sampler (LMS) to enable the measurement of material balances as well as reporting to investors and other stakeholders in compliance with AMIRA P754 and other sampling standards.

The solution facilitates integration with Metso Outotec Courier® online analysers to further improve process control, it added.

Integration of online analysers will enable different types of sampling data to be combined for production analysis purposes, according to the company. By combining process history data with different process scenarios, the process control philosophy can be quickly adapted according to the ore type being processed, for instance. This enables improvement of production predictability and control of metallurgical mass balance, Metso Outotec says.

A single LMS unit can collect multiple metallurgical samples to suit different production reporting and management purposes, with each sample having its own timing and the system able to manage multiple buckets. A simultaneous flexible spot sample can also be taken without any system changes, according to the company.

On top of this, LMS offers improved production predictability and control of metallurgical mass balance, and reduced need for manual laboratory assays.

Tapio Korpela, Product Manager, Samplers, Separation at Metso Outotec, said: “The Linear Metallurgical Sampler incorporates versatile functions to monitor both sampling integrity and sample quality. Its self-diagnostic and self-cleaning system ensures representative metallurgical samples for improved process audits and production transparency. Maintenance personnel can use self-diagnostics and reporting data to enhance predictive maintenance and spares management strategies.”

Wajax to grow ERS and industrial parts businesses with Tundra Process buy

Wajax has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire all of the issued and outstanding shares of Calgary, Alberta-based Tundra Process Solutions in a cash and shares deal worth C$99.1 million ($78.2 million).

The transaction is expected to close early in the March quarter and is subject to customary closing conditions, Wajax said.

Founded in 1999, Tundra provides maintenance and technical services to customers in the western Canadian midstream oil and gas, oil sands, petrochemical, mining, forestry and municipal sectors. It also distributes a diverse range of industrial process equipment, representing manufacturers of valves and actuators, instrumentation and controls, motors and drives, control buildings, boilers and water treatment solutions.

Employing around 150 people, Tundra operates four facilities in Alberta: Calgary, Edmonton (two locations) and Grande Prairie. Tundra also maintains a local sales presence in Fort McMurray and Red Deer, Alberta; Vancouver and Fort St. John, British Columbia; and southern Saskatchewan.

Wajax said the acquisition of Tundra was expected to provide meaningful growth in the corporation’s Engineered Repair Services (ERS) and industrial parts categories, with its operations complementary to Wajax’s existing ERS and industrial parts businesses.

For the 12 months ended November 30, 2020, Tundra had revenues of about C$147.8 million.

Mark Foote, President and Chief Executive Officer of Wajax, said: “Tundra’s market leadership in process control provides Wajax with meaningful scale in ERS and related industrial parts in western Canada. In central and eastern Canada, Tundra’s technical capabilities and product and service range will provide new opportunities to further extend Wajax’s ERS services to our customers.

“Our complementary cultures of safety, customer service and product and service innovation translates into growth driven by a consistent vision of constantly increasing what we can do for our customers.”

Iggy Domagalski, Chief Executive Officer of Tundra, added: “Partnering with Wajax allows us to instantly grow our volumes by leveraging our combined customer relationships and branch networks. Existing Wajax customers will benefit from a broader range of valve, instrumentation and electrical products and services, and existing Tundra customers will benefit from Wajax’s extensive ERS portfolio and geographic footprint.

“We are excited to join Wajax and contribute to the goal of becoming Canada’s leading ERS provider.”

ABB and IBM collaborate on industrial cybersecurity solution

ABB and IBM have announced a collaboration focused on connecting cybersecurity and operational technology (OT) for industrial operations.

As a first result of this collaboration, ABB has developed a new OT Security Event Monitoring Service that combines ABB’s process control system domain expertise with IBM’s security event monitoring portfolio to, ABB says, help improve security for industrial operators.

Industrial control system environments are increasingly targeted in cyberattacks, with IBM’s latest X-Force Threat Intelligence Index finding that attacks on industrial and manufacturing facilities have increased by over 2,000% since 2018.

To better connect OT data with the broader IT security ecosystem, ABB has developed a new offering that allows security events from ABB to be sent to IBM’s security information and event management platform, QRadar.

The ABB solution was designed according to a reference architecture jointly developed by ABB and IBM. It provides the domain knowledge needed to swiftly react to security incidents related to process control, and is especially suited for complex industrial processes in industries such as oil, gas, chemicals and mining, ABB says.

The new event collection and forwarding software, which enables this integration, is currently being used by early adopter customers and will be made broadly available by ABB in the coming months.

This collaboration marks the first time that operational technology (OT) data and process industry domain expertise is being brought directly into a Security Information and Event Monitoring system, allowing threats to be managed as part of an organisation’s broader cybersecurity operations and strategy, ABB says.

Robert Putman, Global Manager of Cyber Security Service for Industrial Automation at ABB, said: “ABB’s collaboration with IBM makes it possible to analyse process control events in the context of security and impact to the operational environment, delivering strong improvement in our OT cyber threat visibility across the board.”

ABB explained: “Disruption of production due to a cyberattack or technical glitches can be costly in terms of lost production and damage to physical assets. Most mature operational monitoring is focused on the performance of the asset, whether it be a gas turbine for electricity, a drive system used to crush ore, or simple monitoring of pollution output from a chemical facility.”

The new ABB offering allows ABB’s process control system data collection and forwarding technology to harvest event log details from ABB process control systems, and share that information with IBM Security QRadar, which uses automation and artificial intelligence to help identify security anomalies and potential threats.

Dr Andreas Kühmichel, CTO, Chemicals, Petroleum & Industrial Products, IBM, said: “We see the integration of these solutions as bringing market-leading capabilities together for a singular view of OT security. With more comprehensive OT and IT security visibility, clients can help reduce the risk of production being suddenly interrupted due to a security event, resulting in costly downtime and broader risk to the company.”

The ABB and IBM technologies involved in this solution are designed on open platforms allowing them to operate on the edge and deploy across hybrid cloud environments spanning on-premise, private or public clouds, ABB says. The joint solution is designed so that security processes operate via automation and do not disturb industrial workflows. The security analysis in QRadar operates through a use case library, which automatically flags incidents and triggers corresponding alarms.

The two companies plan continued collaboration in the realm of OT security to develop new capabilities and offerings that address customer challenges in this space.

AI lays groundwork for process control improvements at Boliden Aitik

A series of tests at Boliden’s Systems Technology division has indicated that artificial intelligence (AI) could unlock further gains from its productivity efforts at the Aitik copper mine, in Sweden.

The company, which partnered up with ABB for these tests, conducted the AI studies to see if technology is available today that could make its concentrators “self-learning,” it said.

The trial took place during the autumn and took a closer look at how AI could be used by Boliden to optimise its concentration processes.

Aitik, meanwhile, is in the middle of an expansion plan that will see production increase from 36 Mt/y to 45 Mt/y of copper ore starting in 2020.

Development Engineer and Project Manager, Johannes Sikström, explained: “At Systems Technology, we develop dynamic simulations of our processes. These simulations can be used in the same way as a game where we define what is a win and what is a loss.

“In the case of self-learning algorithms – so-called deep learning or reinforcement learning – the challenge is the great quantity of data necessary for the algorithm to learn enough about the system for it to make effective decisions.

“This is why games are such a major area within AI research. Games are well suited to enable algorithms to train themselves, and what constitutes a successful result – a win – is also well defined,” he said.

The simulation models enable the company to re-create data equivalent to several decades in just a few hours, according to Boliden.

In its previous projects, Boliden primarily researched machine-learning techniques that analyse data without allowing the algorithm itself to influence it. The aim of the latest project was to allow the algorithm to self-learn instead.

Following initial studies into suitable tools together with Anders Hedlund from data analysis firm BI Nordic, the project led to a degree project in a collaboration involving ABB and Boliden. Max Åstrand from ABB was appointed Supervisor, with his colleague Mattias Hallén taking the lead.

Sikström said: “We directed our attention to the grinding process in Aitik, where we have a well-developed simulation model. We wanted to see if AI was able to do better than our existing control strategy.

“Mattias did a fantastic job setting up the architecture and getting the various environments to ‘play ball’ with each other. We were then able to test various algorithms and different goal functions.”

To begin, Boliden tested a “Q-learning algorithm” which had a goal of trying to control the mill’s load within a given range. After around 40 attempts, the algorithm taught itself to do just that, according to Boliden, acknowledging that it solved the task using a method that would not work in the real world.

In the next step, Boliden investigated the ability of the algorithm to optimise a “gain” instead of optimising a process variable. The goal function for the gain was created as a theoretical model using metal prices, grinding and throughput, for example.

Sikström said: “With this goal function, the AI algorithm succeeded in beating our PID (project initiation documentation) structure to produce a greater gain. So-called wall time was around 80 hours before AI had learned to run the process profitably, in this case equivalent to a plant operating time of more than 300 years.

“The study highlights the value of simulations, and the AI technology shows exciting development opportunities for Boliden’s future process control.”

While the test results were positive, with AI performing better than Boliden’s current control method, Sikström said further studies were necessary before the company considers approaching a viable production solution.

He concluded: “Several technical details need to be resolved, and it is important to use accurate simulation models and well-defined goal functions.

“Because an algorithm is only able to solve the problems formulated for it, process knowhow and experience are at least as important in this type of development as classic process control.”

Orway and Process IQ form JV focused on remote mineral processing consulting

Orway Mineral Consultants (OMC) and Process IQ say they have formed an incorporated joint venture, Orway IQ Pty Ltd, to deliver a remote optimisation consulting service for the mineral processing industry.

MillROC (Milling Remote Optimisation Consulting) will initially focus on comminution circuits, the partners said.

Headquartered in Western Australia, Orway IQ is led by Pieter Strobos (Chairman of the Board), Fred Kock (CEO), Brian Putland and Daniel Van Der Spuy (Executive Directors).

Process IQ, meanwhile, was among eight companies nationally to share in A$15.6 million ($10.6 million) of funding to support collaboration and innovation, and address mining equipment, technology and services (METS) sector priorities, as announced earlier this year.

Its project, which included Orway as one of three partners, was aimed at enabling grinding experts to interact directly and in real time with grinding circuits on remote mine sites to ensure they are operating at their most productive levels. “The project will develop automated artificial intelligence software to emulate the experts as there is very limited supply of this specialist expertise, leading to increased processing efficiency globally,” METS Ignited said.

The joint venture draws on Orway’s expertise in comminution design, modelling and optimisation and Process IQ’s expertise in the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), cloud-based computing, process control, automation and instrumentation, the companies said. Together the companies claim to have served the mining industry for more than 50 years.

Orway IQ’s MillROC uses real-time data in online process models and communicates the findings to the client, according to the companies. The product is a cloud-based reporting of all plant data related to circuit performance and optimisation, available anytime, anywhere – via the internet. Orway IQ expert consultants review circuits from around the world daily from its operations centre in Perth.

Orway’s Strobos said: “The joint venture company is aligned with the METS Ignited initiative to assist with the growth and innovation of the business. Process IQ, OMC and now Orway IQ are at the forefront of the digital transformation in the mining industry, having been recognised for their ground-breaking work in this space.”

Strobos continued: “We are receiving tremendous support from both Federal and State government and our consulting service, MillROC, has been recognised as having huge implications as a new product category for the mining industry.”

Orway IQ has also been chosen to participate in the RISE Accelerator program supported by the Western Australia Government Department of Jobs, Tourism, Science and Innovation, The Queensland Government, NERA and METS Ignited – which is run by KPMG. The program has been developed to spearhead innovation into industry and equip METS companies with the skills, capabilities and support to develop their innovation and grow their businesses.