In 2007, platinum prices were at an all-time high. Lonmin, the third largest producer of platinum groups metal (PGM) in the world, wanted to maximize efficiency and unlock hidden capacity in its process. GE had previously helped Lonmin’s concentrating section solve some tough challenges, so GE was called on again to help with a bottleneck in the smelter area. So, the two companies partnered together to support Lonmin’s digital transformation of its operation’s processes.
Lonmin initially implemented Predix Operations Performance Management (Predix OPM) at the filter and drying section of its smelter operation to help remove bottlenecks and increase efficiency. The results were so positive that Predix OPM was expanded to several other sections in the smelter, including the slag plant and gas cleaning plant, as well as for the monitoring of its control systems. By leveraging Predix OPM, Lonmin was able to increase revenue and margin by optimizing the performance and throughput of its plants, sites, and portfolio.
"Without the [GE] solution we would incur additional cost for inefficiencies and we will definitely have equipment damage due to our inability to control the process in the same way as an analytically-driven system," says Percy French, Automation Manager, Smelter Lonmin.
- 10%+ increase in throughput in the filter and drying section
- 25% decrease in variation in feed into the slag mill
- 45% decrease in variation in cyclone feed pressure
- 1.5% greater recovery in the slag plant
- Stabilization of pH control in the absorber in the gas cleaning plant
- Optimization of performance of baselayer (PID) control
As a next step, Lonmin plans to leverage GE's Predix Platform for performance management tools to increase uptime and decrease maintenance costs on its fans and blowers. The company also plans to implement predictive monitoring on some of the smelter’s critical equipment, including fans and blowers, to help reduce failures and prioritize maintenance.