“Embracing the 4th industrial revolution in heavy haul railways – paving the way” is the theme of the workshop at which railway professionals and associates from across the African continent came together to tackle the advancement of the railway and transport industry in Africa. The workshop was held by invitation of the South African Heavy Haul Association (SAHHA), 4–6 September in Johannesburg.
Professor Pilate Moyo, Head of the Department of Civil Engineering at the University of Cape Town, Director of CoMSIRU, and Chairman of Technical Programmes at SAHHA attended the workshop. In an interview with CNBCAfrica, he shares insights into new technologies for heavy haul railways and South Africa’s role in advancing these on the continent.
“Industry 4.0 is offering new opportunities that we didn’t have before. Particularly, when it comes to sensing technologies and being able to track and monitor what is happening in your infrastructure and being able to look at data – almost live – out of your infrastructure and out of your operations. … Where we are now and what digital technologies are offering is a space which allows us to have this information and track the development of damage, for example, in a system. We can foresee what is going to happen then predict what is going to happen and therefore take action at the right time. And hence improve productivity, efficiency, and safety of course.”
“The 4th Industrial Revolution is something that is growing with the digital technology available to us. Let’s call it disruptive technologies …most of our universities have a space where they do control systems, robotics, artificial intelligence.”
“South Africa is a member of an international body, called the International Heavy Haul Association. … We have been very conscious to ensure that the developments that we are having access to don’t just remain with us but can reach other African countries. So we have invited, for example, the Southern African Railways Association, which is part of the conference at the moment. And in fact, [as SAHHA] we signed a memorandum of understanding yesterday with them to ensure there’s seamless integration in terms of the information that comes from our activities as well as information from their activities.”