Fri, 24/02/2017 - 08:10
Thriving as a business of the best, not the biggest, Schneider Electric Mining, Minerals and Metals South Africa is putting sustainability on the radar of the continent’s most fluctuating sectors
Life is On
Writer: Matthew Staff
Project Manager: Donovan Smith
Leveraging the wider Group’s specialist skills in energy management and automation, Schneider Electric Mining, Minerals and Metals South Africa (Schneider Electric MMM) has taken significant steps in recent years to bring new and significant efficiencies to the heart of the continent’s industrial domain.
Addressing key challenges including social licensing, business volatility, financial constraints, digitisation, resource scarcity, globalisation, resource nationalism, and a gap in the talent pool the ever-diversifying and growing division has found solutions aplenty in order to bring sustainability back to the fore.
“We help our customers grow in a sustainable way by helping them maximise their production resources and optimise industrial operations, while improving overall efficiency and asset utilisation,” the division’s Vice President, Wilhelm Swart states.
In regards to mining alone, this asset utilisation revolves around safety and security, energy and sustainability, operational efficiency, workforce efficiency, value chain optimisation, community development, and specific sector challenges; these elements of course being transferable to all other industrial areas as well.
“Our overall strategy is to create value that generates consistent, profitable growth for our customers by providing sustainability, efficiency and supply chain technology at the operations layer based on domain expertise, consulting services and software,” Swart affirms.
Regarding production, Schneider Electric MMM also looks to efficiently deliver capital and operational projects that minimise risk and costs.
“Mining, Minerals and Metals will be the business of the best, and not the biggest,” Swart declares. “And we can help our customers be the best in two key ways: we can help them be more efficient and sustainable through the use of technology and strategic partnerships; and we can help them be more disciplined in capital allocation through improved cost management operational excellence and value creation.”
A positive team culture
Currently building its business model around innovation, digitisation and branding, the Company’s modern day adherence to the most advanced of technologies ensures “innovation at every level, from connected products to complete solutions”; Schneider Electric subsequently able to boast a flexible turnkey range of solutions applicable to multiple markets.
This represents nearly 200 years of evolution achieved by the wider Schneider Electric Group in order to house such an offering in the present day.
“The Company began in 1836 when Brothers Schneider acquired mines and forges in France and two years later created Schneider & Cie,” Swart details. Moving forward, “between 1981 and 1997, the Company diverted from steel and shipbuilding to focus mainly on electricity through strategic acquisitions”.
Having set the scene, 2010 represented the most significant transition as it ingratiated itself more firmly into areas of software, critical power and smart grid applications; a remit that has also experienced extensive geographic growth ever since, as it branched out into a current footprint of 53 countries in either a practical, sales or partnership capacity.
“Our strategy from this point is to increase MMM team engagement via behaviour to drive a positive team culture; to build up solutions through delivery skills, execution capabilities and inclusive systems; to invest selectively in the MMM segment for Africa coverage; to continuously drive effective lead generation via digitisation, campaigns and events; and to produce an MMM cluster strategy via increased marcom awareness and coverage in selected Africa MMM countries,” Swart lists in regards to MMM’s continuous improvement strategy.
“We are able to introduce new services like our EcoStruxure Platform which leverages advancements in IoT, mobility, sensing, cloud, analytics and cybersecurity to enable innovation at every level through three core capabilities of our platform: embedded connectivity and intelligence; interoperable foundation for smart operations; and infrastructure for cloud-connected digital services.”
Schneider Electric MMM’s IoT technology backbone provides a fundamental set of technology capabilities that allow the Company to connect these layers of innovation into each new solution; subsequently bridging the IoT/OT gap and doing so at a scale and speed previously unavailable in these markets.
Life is On
Having infiltrated its award-winning service into so many countries around the world, the need to implement an equally comprehensive supply chain management strategy has been of paramount importance in recent years, with the resultant structure catering for 130,000 order lines a day and 500,000 references across its 103 distribution centres, 220 factories and 45,000 suppliers.
“We have built a strong foundation of tailored supply chain capability for our customers,” explains Schneider Electric’s Executive Vice President for Global Supply Chain, Annette Clayton. “This differentiates us in the marketplace, and we are poised to support the more demanding business environments and critical needs of our customers.”
Swart adds: “Schneider Electric’s supply chain is now a worldwide operation well-positioned to serve our customers everywhere. Resulting from growth and acquisitions, our global supply chain now comprises 90,000 employees with many of them fulfilling customer orders every 1.5 seconds in 220 manufacturing factories and 100-plus distribution centres located across 44 countries.”
Naturally, the MMM division only comprises a fraction of this Group undertaking, but the same values apply throughout and have been critical in Africa where logistical optimisation is of the essence. Consequently, a collaborative, lean, agile, project-driven and fully flexible supply chain exists to meet the challenging demands of the continent’s industrial field.
“In 2015, Gartner, the world’s leading information technology research and advisory Company, identified the top 15 European Supply Chain Organisations and for the first time in its history, Schneider Electric ranked in the number 10 position,” Swart emphasises.
Winning awards, accolades and recognition in general has become commonplace for the Company over the years, with the business also being recognised for areas of energy management, data centre dynamics, corporate social responsibility, partnership formulation, and distribution management in recent times.
And, having laid down this foundation of operational excellence and structural sustainability, Schneider Electric MMM’s strategy moving forward is to maintain this head-start on the industry curve through the ongoing monitoring and adherence to the three industries’ most pressing trends and fluctuations.
“The way we currently manage energy is unsustainable, and the three megatrends of urbanisation, industrialisation and digitisation are provoking an important increase in energy demand,” Swart concludes. “Today we still depend on unsustainable CO2-emitting fuels for 85 percent of our energy, trapping an ever-increasing amount of heat in the atmosphere.
“At Schneider Electric, we innovate at every level to befit customers across industries... Innovation at every level is future-proof and redefines energy management and automation for customer outcomes and at the same time addresses the energy dilemma for a more sustainable planet; ensuring Life is On, for everyone, everywhere, at every moment.”