In Part 4 of this Sustainable Transformation journey, you read about how LithaNova designed their new, sustainable lithium processing plant quickly and efficiently by using Dassault Systèmes’ 3DEXPERIENCE Platform and its virtual twin technology. “With their help,” said LithaNova general manager Claude Gonzalez, “our system design team was able to create a requirement-compliant, fully commissioned system design entirely in the virtual world, where they could test, analyze and modify it as needed before construction began. We saved time and avoided a lot of extra costs this way, by fixing errors and adapting to changing requirements in advance.”
Perform with Excellence
With the processing plant constructed, commissioned, and in operation, the company turned to ensuring its optimal operation. “Not only was lithium extraction new to us, we also needed to establish ourselves quickly with a whole new set of customers –– battery manufacturers and electric vehicle makers –– we had never dealt with before,” said Claude. “We needed to produce high-quality lithium and deliver it on or before deadline every time. It was the only way we would stay ahead in the market.”
Issue 1: Ability to work collaboratively
LithaNova’s management, maintenance, and sales operations teams all lived and worked on different continents, but needed to share data and information collaboratively, and prepare and revise a variety of schedules and plans.
Issue 2: Ensuring safety
“Like all mining operations, it takes a great deal of time to inspect all the equipment involved in a lithium extraction plant,” said Claude, “and shutdowns for repairs or upgrades are inevitable. We needed to minimize the costs in terms of lost productivity from inspections, repairs, or shutdowns, while still making sure that our machines were operated and maintained properly to ensure safe operations for workers and avoid any potentially harmful environmental disasters. Safety of the water supply and the surrounding communities is absolutely critical.”
Issue 3: Possibility of changing demand
The original system design had LithaNova operating its flagship plant at an 80% nominal charge. “This was an estimate,” said Claude, “based on what we knew of the market for lithium at the time. But, as I’ve said before, the worldwide energy landscape continues to evolve very quickly and we knew we had to be prepared to respond rapidly to any upticks in demand.”
How they did it
Setting up a scheduling and planning community
Claude set up a new community on Dassault Systèmes’ 3DEXPERIENCE Platform for LithaNova’s management, maintenance, sales operations teams, inside which they could access Dassault Systèmes solutions developed specifically for operations planning and scheduling, mine production and distribution scheduling, and asset integrity.
Using this centralized platform meant that everyone on each team could see the latest information on LithaNova sales, trade, market levels, logistics, partners and end-customers, as well as up-to-the-minute analyses of operations, maintenance management, and inspection data.