Interlate News

Water PoC

The challenge in the industry

It is no secret that aging infrastructure presents a key challenge to the water industry. As these assets deteriorate, they pose serious risks to both water supply and water quality. In sewer system networks, the risk of blockages is a major public health concern and the impacts to the environment, the water quality and the assets themselves can prove costly both from a monetary perspective and reputational risk.

The vision

Imagine if a pump operator could identify and solve blockages in sewerage pumps before they even occur. This process would allow them to optimise maintenance cost by providing data driven insights to maintenance and engineering teams about what can be done before a blockage even occurs.  Having the data available would enable operators to make informed decisions, reducing overall maintenance costs and increasing equipment availability to ensure business continuity.

Customer problem

We recently worked with a client that has approximately 800 pumping stations and each of these stations have varying quantities and ratings of pump drive trains, individual equipment from numerous manufacturers, and asset operation across vast geographical location with maintenance performed on a time – based schedule. To complicate this further, these assets are at varying stages of operational life, with equipment replacement planned based on operating time as opposed to asset condition.

Proposed Solution

The client was looking for a data driven condition based, predictive maintenance strategy across across pump station assets in their sewer system network.

Challenges encountered

Working in partnership with the client, the first sewerage pumping station identified had limited available data which was not unexpected due to the known age of the assets and subsequent data maturity. These data limitations meant that traditional analytics were not possible.

Overcoming the obstacles

An innovative approach was taken to develop a digital twin of the station by leveraging engineering and commissioning data. The digital twin was compared to the available operating data to validate the operating behaviour which provided confidence that the model could effectively soft-sense information not available from on-line instruments. Utilising subject matter expertise (SME’s), operating behaviours were identified and categorised based on their general impact on asset health.

Subsequently, a proof of concept (PoC) was designed to assess the asset health of the pumps across three of their sewerage stations by combining Advanced Data Analytics with motor and Variable Speed Drive (VSD) expertise with the aim of developing a predictive model to support a condition-based maintenance strategy.

Determining success

The success factors of the PoC relate to the development of an algorithm and / or tools that will: detect abnormal operation of pump station drive trains (motor / pump / VSD); predict failure of the pump station drive trains.

Outcome of the PoC

Working in partnership as an extension of the client’s team, advanced data analytics were applied to propose a predictive model to support a condition-based maintenance strategy. However, in PoC studies such as this, it has further highlighted the need to focus on the digital maturity of the assets across the entire operations.  Increasing the digital maturity would provide more informative data to be obtained. Increasing data maturity would enable clients to move from a predictive maintenance-based strategy to a prescriptive maintenance strategy. The power of this would ultimately ensure a calculation of lifetime left for the pump station drive trains possible, bringing a higher level of efficiency to asset management decision making.

 

Interlate News

COVID-19 Emergency Response

By Melissa Bruce
Interlate Market Analyst

We are living in very difficult times and COVID-19 has upended the world as we knew it and forced us all to dramatically alter our lifestyles. As a business owner, you must protect the health and safety of your workers which also includes knowing what to do if someone is injured. The same applies in your day to day life. I wonder how many of us have actually taken the time over the past 6 months to ask ourselves what we would do if a colleague, a friend, a loved one or even a member of the community suddenly took ill or was involved in an accident? Would you know what to do? Would you stop and help? Would COVID-19 alter the way in which you would normally respond?

I can honestly say that it wasn’t until this week that I was met with stark reality that I hadn’t even given it a second thought. As a trained first aider, I’ve always been confident that should the need arise, I could assist with medical care until professional help arrived. I also believed there would be people around who could and would assist in the moment of need. Unfortunately, the reality was far from this belief.

Earlier this week, I unfortunately witnessed a medical emergency taking place. Without a moment’s thought, I stopped and started administering not only medical help, but also talking to the emergency services until help arrived. However, I was on my own. I was horrified to see that of all the people around, I was the only one who stopped without hesitation and provided assistance. It wasn’t until later that I took the time to stop and reflect. Is this just human nature or was there an underlying fear regarding COVID-19 that caused people to put their head down, hide behind their masks and walk on quickly?

With the way the world is today, we should always prepare as if everyone we are assisting is infected not only with COVID-19 but every virus. This has always been the case, but the fear COVID-19 has brought with it, has highlighted the importance of this more than ever. We all need to take time to consider some precautions we should take and it’s fair to say that at an absolute minimum, if possible, people should keep a face mask on where possible and wear gloves. It’s also imperative that if you have assisted at a medical emergency, that you ensure you have given contact details to medical professionals in case there is a need for contact tracing.

I encourage you to ask yourself whether you are in a position to provide first aid assistance and / or call an ambulance should it be required and if so, have you thought about how you will keep yourself and those around you safe? You never know when you might be required to help someone.

I’ve put together some tips of my own that I’m using as a checklist to ensure I am ready should such a situation ever occur again, and I implore that you do the same.

  • Do you have a current first aid kit in your car and in your home?
  • Do you know where the first kit is in your office or home?
  • In your workplace, do you know who your first aiders are so that you can get help if needed?
  • Do you have ready access to gloves and a face mask?

It’s important that we don’t let COVID-19 impact our ability to help others in times of need and that we are prepared so that we can ensure we are not compromising our own safety and well being.

 

Interlate News

Luke’s Law

I’m a futurist and I love contemplating the benefits that technology will bring. With a passion for numbers, I discovered that machine learning is a field in mathematics that is well suited for commercialisation. This discovery put me firmly on a path to commercialise the technology and to become a driving force for its future! A future that I’m eagerly shaping…

It wasn’t long until I began to see an even greater potential for the technology, but what also became clear was that there were limitations in how quickly it was being adopted.

Now, thanks to my experience in commercialising the technology, I’m beginning to understand how to overcome these limitations. The solution in my mind hangs on awareness and conversation.

Once the capabilities, purpose and goals of machine learning are understood by the general public, I believe there will be a huge increase in the investment that is already being applied to machine learning. This is really exciting as it will pave the development of next generation machine learning algorithms, which will be nothing short of mind-blowing.

So, how do we increase awareness and conversation around machine learning? Well, I believe the key is something I call the law of analytical adoption (LAA). The LAA is something I’ve seen played out time and time again and, in my mind, if we are not aware of it when we are adopting a technology, there is only disappointment. The LAA:

Stage 1: Data is generated and captured
Stage 2: Data is analysed
Stage 3: Data is intelligently generated and captured
Stage 4: Data is optimally analysed and can be used to make value

This is how it works:

Initially we’ll invest into generating/collecting as much data as possible. Stage 1. Then we’ll adopt technology ‘x’. Inevitably we’ll end up coming to the general conclusion: The data we’ve generated/collected is not of high enough quality. Stage 2. We’ll then further invest into generating/collecting data, guided by the limitations and strengths of technology ‘x’. Stage 3. Technology ‘x’ works optimally, and it brings its maximum potential ROI. Stage 4. It’s important that you start soon but it’s just as important that you know where to start

This journey must be taken by every client and every employee. A discussion that will be needed to be had around tables. A journey that is necessary to not fall behind on. I can see start-ups popping up or evolving to help large organisations through the process too.

Personally I was not aware of this law when I first got into industry but now that I am, it’s changing the way I code and think.

I’m building algorithms at Interlate to handle this problem directly. I Imagine a world where a self-guided algorithm gets turned on during first commission of an asset and it’s initially focused on bringing stability and then it begins to intelligently explore the potential solution space as a means of generating high-quality data. These are algorithms that move directly into Stage 3 in the LAA and overcome many of the traditional steady-state limitations. As a result, not only does the process gain an immediate benefit of stability but the resulting optimisation that later follows is of maximised value.

Awareness and conversation of the LAA will first happen in organisations and that responsibility and hard work will benefit all of our lives, day-to-day. We’ll be moving even faster to the future… the one which I’m eager for!

 

Interlate News

Digital Readiness Assessment

It’s fair to say that there is wide-spread recognition, and in most cases acceptance, that data has the potential to be very valuable in helping mines and plants improve profitability.

A cursory search for “value from data” on Google will yield hundreds of results spanning Tier 1 consulting companies, fully comprehensive data platforms, specialised application and general advice. With all this content available, it can be a little daunting to know where to begin. How does a company get more from data without risking becoming one of “those” transformation initiatives?

Interlate takes a very pragmatic approach based on experience. We help you quickly and safely determine how much, and how quickly you should invest in squeezing your data for more value. We can show you where investing will pay off and when you should rather invest in other more value-producing initiatives.

We’ve taken our extensive experience in helping major mining companies find more value from their operational data and used it to create a simple and highly effective Digital Readiness Assessment (DRA). The DRA is a quick process that will provide a clear path to value by:

  • Showing you where you sit on a digital readiness benchmark
  • Showing you where digital would be valuable in the context of your operation
  • Providing you with clear steps to start your transformation without risk

Want to learn more?

It’s important that you start soon but it’s just as important that you know where to start.

CONTACT US

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Interlate News

Supporting our clients during COVID-19

Everybody is innovating widely to maintain operational capabilities. For Mining, one of the key innovation challenges is around managing operations remotely.
Now, more than ever, a sustainable solution is needed. Interlate can help with a proven model.

We can help you keep your processing operations running

During this challenging time, we are offering mining companies a proven way to sustain their operations even with reduced onsite personnel. We are ready and able to help with our model of remote operations support which comes with the following benefits:

  • Work continues to be effective, even if it is from a lounge or kitchen.
  • Protection against loss of value through rapid deployment and migration.
  • A reduction of the operational risk of your overall business continuity.
  • Opportunities to not only continue but improve profitability through the application of Interlate’s AI & Plant Optimization capabilities.

The pandemic is not going to be over in a few weeks.

Many organizations would never have predicted a far-reaching pandemic and as a result a lot of the current business continuity plans don’t have well established protocols and procedures to cope with the pace that COVID-19 has developed. There has been an urgent scrambling to comply with social distancing directives resulting in mass working from home arrangements.

Once the immediate move to a remote working regime is complete, companies need be set-up for the long haul as health experts advise self-distancing will need to remain in place for a protracted period to prevent a resurgence in the pandemic.

People need to remain safe but also employed, motivated and valued.

Right now, and for the foreseeable future, businesses are grappling with the challenge of keeping people safe and employed while complying with the authorities’ mandate to minimize the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, and all at the same time trying to prevent lasting damage to their operations. Even with the need for remote working met, how do companies ensure that work is effective, productive and innovative? If we can’t keep people physically together, how do we keep people “digitally together”?

Operating at full capacity with reduced onsite personnel.

We can help mining companies run their plants at full capability even with reduced onsite personnel. We’ve been delivering real-time decision support remotely for several years, mainly focused on improving the annual profitability of plants. We have the experience and knowledge to help teams work effectively in a remote mode. Furthermore, we can support site personnel working from home by providing them with deep analytical insight and prediction around plant operations.

Immediate support and options around longer-term restructure of work.

There are several options for our customers to get immediate support for their remote workers and the site personnel that remain at their operations. These options range from short-term support to longer-term transformations.

In the short term we can provide access to dedicated and purpose-built remote operations capability. We can also provide immediate data monitoring and analytics capability. From here customers have the option of working with us to design the business processes of a post pandemic operation, e.g., centralizing subject matter experts and supporting remote operations with data and analytics.

The Interlate Team – a partner in productivity

Want to learn more?

Remote working is in our DNA – we have been assisting clients to run and optimize their mines remotely for years. You can benefit from our deep experience in remote management of mining sites. To learn more about how we can assist you, please get in touch.

CONTACT US