UJ and Schneider Electric launch 4IR Experience Room

Issue 1 2023 News

Schneider Electric and the University of Johannesburg (UJ) Faculty of Engineering and Built Environment (FEBE) have officially unveiled the 4IR Experience Room, a first for UJ and situated at the university’s Auckland Park Campus.

The 4IR Experience Room, supported by the Schneider Electric Foundation and Schneider Electric, is the latest in a number of successful projects by Schneider Electric and UJ since the establishment of their partnership in 2016. Focused on engineering faculty students, the room is a practical demonstration of the inner workings of the 4IR, its interconnectivity and relevance in sectors such as energy.

The Schneider Electric Foundation’s initiatives are in line with the Schneider Sustainability Impact (SSI) and the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). One of the SSI targets focuses on training and empowering 1 million young people by 2025 and providing skills and entrepreneurial opportunities that benefit both the youngsters themselves and their local communities.

The experience room offers real-time demonstrations of 4IR technologies such as augmented reality (AR), VR (Virtual Reality), artificial intelligence (AI) and 3D printers. Schneider Electric’s vendor neutral ecosystem, EcoStruxure is also on full display and the architecture encompasses connected products, edge control layers, and apps, analytics and services in a myriad of sectors.

Speaking at the unveiling of the 4IR Experience Room, Professor Letlhokwa Mpedi, UJ Vice Chancellor and Principal said, “4IR entails increased interconnectivity and we must not leave others behind. We are seeing it in our factories, homes and classrooms. It is myopic to perceive 4IR as a shift in technological innovation, it is an intelligence revolution.”

Zanélle Dalglish, Global Leader: Training & Education Affairs at Schneider Electric, echoed Professor Mpedi’s sentiment, re-emphasising the success of the partnership between UJ and Schneider. “If you look at the work that we do in South Africa, one of our main goals is to work with academia to bridge the gap between industry and academia. Once students exit prestigious universities such as UJ and enter the workplace, they are ready to take up the challenge and are practically trained in the technologies they find in industry.”

UJ forms part of the French Southern African Schneider Electric Education Centre (F’SASEC) network which also includes other South African tertiary education providers such as the Vaal University of Technology (VUT), Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT), Sedibeng TVET College, College of Cape Town (CCT), Eastcape Midlands College (EMC) and Ukufunda Youth Development. The network is actively expanding and reaches beyond South Africa’s borders to include partnerships with Don Bosco in Mozambique and Malawi.

Additional Schneider Electric products featured in the 4IR Experience Room include:

• The Modicon M580 ePAC – a controller that enable hybrid manufacturers to achieve better, measurable, and earlier ROI.

• Altivar 630 – designed for variable torque control, it includes features such as pump control and monitoring, advanced drives for fluid and gas handling applications with offers embedded energy monitoring, information management and process optimisation.

• PowerTags – compact, class 1 wireless communication energy sensors that monitor and measure energy and power in real-time.

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