Codelco, the National Copper Corporation of Chile, has awarded a major contract with an approximate value of $50 million U.S. to Rockwell Automation to supply a number of important systems for the Chuquicamata underground mine, a “super cave” mine in Chile.
Rockwell Automation will collaborate in the transformation of the century-old, open-pit mine into a technologically advanced “super cave” mine that uses a block-caving extraction process. This advanced method is expected to extend the life of the mine by at least 40 years, improving its asset utilization.
Cave mining techniques are becoming increasingly popular, because they yield high production rates at lower costs. Block caving is a mining method in which blocks of ore are undercut to induce caving, allowing it to break up and be drawn off, pulled by gravity.
The contract includes a detailed engineering, supply, configuration, and assembly of four systems that comprise the mine’s control system. This consists of an integrated operational platform, security system, supervision and control network, predictive maintenance, and a general administrative network.
Rockwell Automation is currently working on the engineering and construction phase, in advance of a project startup by mid-2019. Annual production is projected to be 320,000 tons of fine copper and 15,000 tons of molybdenum.
Manufacturing technology orders capped the first half of the year with another strong month in June, gaining 5 percent compared to June 2017 and bringing the annual growth rate to 22 percent for 2018. The latest U.S. Manufacturing Technology Orders Report from The Association for Manufacturing Technology (AMT) showed that orders totaled $417 million for the month, down 14 percent compared to May’s totals, and at $2.55 billion for the year.
“While many manufacturers are expressing concerns about trade wars, it doesn’t seem that it has slowed their need for additional capacity, and orders for new capital equipment remain strong,” said AMT president Doug Woods. “Trade issues and supply chain delays are certain to have an impact on the equipment market as we head into the fall. AMT supports a quick and fair conclusion to the issues.”
The only region to show month over month growth was the Northeast, where power generation and aerospace showed great strength in June. Metal cutting equipment in the South Central region posted a 25 percent decline in June from May levels but is nearly 40 percent ahead of the previous year’s order pace through the first six months of 2018. The strength is largely due to higher oil prices and growth in the contract machining industry, but significant orders in automotive have also pushed the numbers up. Activity in the North Central-West was softer in June but posted strong year-to-date growth thanks to the mining and recreational equipment industries gearing up for additional demand. The strongest customer industries in June were aerospace and power generation equipment.
The key leading indicators for manufacturing technology were all positive in June. The purchasing managers’ index again moved above 60, suggesting strong order growth through the end of the year. Consumer sentiment and auto sales bounced back in June after small setbacks in May. Capacity utilization for manufacturing continues to edge upward (76 percent in June), closer to the 80 percent that has historically signaled rapid acceleration for manufacturing technology orders.
IFS, a global enterprise applications company, has released a primary research study of 200 North American manufacturing executives that reveals more than half of respondents expect their budgets for digital transformation to increase in the next two years. The IFS study also reveals that substantial investments have already been made in digital transformation initiatives. These investments led to a 26 percent increase in companies saying their enterprise software did a very good or good job preparing them for digital transformation since a 2015 study. Based on the results from the study, IFS believes digital transformation will continue to accelerate in coming years, as only 5 percent of respondents expected their budgets to decrease.
IFS’s results are corroborated by analyst research indicating a groundswell of investment in digital transformation. According to a study by IDC, spending on global digital transformation will reach $1.7 trillion by 2019, increasing 42 percent over 2017. According to the 2018 Gartner digital business survey, 59 percent of midsize enterprises intend to pursue their digital ambitions by both optimizing and transforming their business for the digital era.
Rick Veague, IFS CTO, North America, said, “There are simple wins to be had by leveraging more accessible technologies like mobility and, increasingly, IoT [Internet of Things]. Now that enterprise software vendors have planned their offerings around these technologies, the pace of change can pick up quickly. Those who cannot change at the pace of their competitors will be left behind.”
The study also sheds light on the type of digital transformation projects respondents have budgeted for. Analytics and mobility projects were the most frequently funded among respondent companies.
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