Working in South Africa on an Oil Refinery - March, 1998 : LUSENET : News Clips : One Thread

The status in South Africa is roughly this :

Most companies I have spoken to are aware of, and working on, the problem. However, the focus is still (98% of the time) on financials and business systems.The general response at the moment is that any SAP R/3 (or similar) conversion is akin to a magic wand (SAP is making huge money in this country at the moment, with JDE a close second) and all problems will be magically solved by the new package.

Since I was deployed onto this job in June last year I have been preaching embedded systems to anybody who will listen but I don't think the message is getting through yet. I must say however, that the oil industry here is very aware - we have formed a Y2K Forum and most of the companies are represented at this forum. So that's the good news.

The bad news (and I must stress that this is my own opinion etc) is that generally, the various departments of the government are nowhere near doing anything concrete. I am confident, however, that if any department is up to date it is the electricity supplier, [company name] (a parastatal). My concern is that the local authorities buy from [company name] and supply to us, and I believe that this is where we will get bitten. The continued supply of electricity is crucial to the running of the Refinery, and it is one area where we have very little control. I am currently trying to set up industry groups in our area to try to build muscle, but if the local authority's electricity people themselves are not worried, no amount of muscle is going to change that.

So, I will definitely keep you posted, and look forward to another discussion group eagerly, if it can provide any pointers.



-- Bill (, March 18, 1998


(Note: The following is an update received April 20th, 1998)

It's a beautiful day outside and I'm stuck at my desk catching up on admin, minutes of meetings, printing out files because people have lost them.... At least today nobody can disturb me and I can plough on through.

At the refinery we are making progress. We have tested all the 486's currently on the network and not one of them passed the test. We are not even going to try any 286's and 386's (which are generally standalone PCs and used in specific areas), therefore, just tell people they have to be replaced. This has serious (and costly) implications in the lab, for example, where many of their instruments are linked to PCs for database and printing reasons, and the currently-installed software cannot cope with anything more sophisticated than a 286. There are many items that need to be changed but can't be at this stage, because they are linked to other systems and a strategic decision will have to be made on the direction to be taken on those once they have the results of another project which is still in the planning stages...

So far all the PLCs which have been tested have passed the date change test (very basic at this stage - change the date and print it out, the roll over to the next date) so we are all waiting for something to go wrong... I will keep you posted.

-- Bill (on behalf of sender) (, April 22, 1998.

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