Published 12/10/2018

Enterprise Transformation Partners (ETP) and the University of Western Australia (UWA) are collaborating to establish the I4.0 Energy Resources Digital Interoperability (ERDI) Test Lab at UWA. The Lab will provide a globally unique facility for energy and resource companies to test and develop robust solutions for the use of I4.0 hardware and software technologies central to the next generation of industrial process control and operations management technology.

This includes the upgrading of process control capabilities in established brown-fields plants. The Lab will enable unique educational experiences both for UWA Faculty of Engineering and Mathematical Sciences (FEMS) students and for vocational students from South Metropolitan TAFE.

Digital Interoperability is the key enabler in realising the benefits associated with vastly improved I4.0 operating models i.e. the digital mine, the digital oilfield or refinery.

Digital interoperability will enable significant improvements to energy and resources companies at all scales. Instead of being wedded to a particular monolithic product for all of their process control services, interoperability is seen as a major factor that can enable companies to enhance efficiency by selecting best-of-breed market solutions in each segment of their business.

Further, in areas where modular systems that are not interoperable are the norm, digital interoperability will enable these systems to exchange information out of the box automatically and in real-time, again enabling vastly improved operating models delivering bottom line performance improvements.

Benefits are expected across the natural resources and energy sectors including improved value chain optimisation capabilities, reduced downtime of control systems, big data analytics and reduced cost of ownership and smoother upgrades of hardware and software.

The UWA Test Lab will provide a capability for local SMEs, start-ups and global technology companies to test their products against a framework of standards with independent verification and feedback. The Lab has been designed to enable simulated operations, but also direct integration to mining and LNG operational systems. Further, the Lab has been designed to integrate with the planned UWA LNG Future Facility and South Metropolitan TAFE's ACEPT Facility.

Current plans will have the first stage of the Lab delivered mid-2019. Mining and LNG companies sponsoring the AMIRA P1208 Project (Enabling Interoperability in Natural Resources), will be leveraging the Lab from mid-2019. The AMIRA Project who will be working with the Open Process Automation Forum (OPAF) to advance interoperability standards, will also be enhancing the Labs technology testing and certification capability as standards are incrementally ratified through 2019, 2020 and 2021.

Interested mining, oil and gas and technology companies supplying the resources industry are encouraged to contact ETP directly to find out more about OPAF, AMIRA P1208 and the UWA I4.0 ERDI Test Lab.

The below automation world article provides a good overview of some of the OPAF work and views from various industry members.

Automation World OPAF Article