Increase in production and quality demands in the cement industry have resulted in a need for improvement in speed and accuracy of quality control parameters of cement. This need has been addressed by many technological advances in quality control and process automation in the recent years. The article highlights the philosophy of QIMS system implemented/under implementation at the various operating plants of Reliance cement.
QIMS reinforces the confidence level of customers and stakeholders in a highly competitive market. The other important reason for emphasis on QIMS is the subsequent improvement in efficiency and productivity. In business organisations, a well-designed information system can be the real difference between profit and loss. QIMS also helps companies and organisations to gain strategic competitive advantages over their competitors.
Objectives of QIMS project
Main deliverables expected from QIMS project
Scope the work.
The overall scope of the implementation of a QIMS system at Reliance cement was to provide a comprehensive and near real-time dashboard, integrated with data from various stand alone automatic quality parameter measuring equipment at the plants. This dashboard information assists the quality/production personnel and sales team to meet the quality, production and sales targets of the organisation.
The application has been designed in a manner to effectively manage the quality information in accordance to best-in-class laboratory practices. This includes all the tasks of plant, right from the routine quality controls to the final product quality controls including the compliance and weekly test certificates that need to be issued to customers. Other cement suited functions of the QIMS include automatic and near real time data acquisition, data validation, data consolidation, long-term storage, calculations, sample logging procedures, sample status reports, work lists, standard and compliance reporting features, intuitive charts and graphics, as well as interoperability options for MS Excel and other industry standard statistical analysis applications. In case of erroneous reading by the equipment/poor sampling, the near real time data can be altered only by the approval of the designated authority.
Features of QIMS
Validation and Authorisation
If the automatic data captured is sub-standard with respect to the norms defined by the organisation, the system generates automatic alert messages and escalates them to the respective quality manager, plant manager and corporate quality functional head.
If there is a genuine need to change this substandard data, the system is designed to follow a pre-defined approval workflow, which allows authorised personnel to empower the respective production manager to change the data.
The configuration shown in schematics above is similar at all the plants (i.e. Integrated Grinding Units). The Centralised Quality server is also designed to integrate with the ERP system (SAP ECC) as well as the Reports servers (SAP BI/BO).
Implementation of QIMS has helped Reliance Cement achieve comprehensive quality excellence at par or at levels higher than the competition. Also, since all the results are transmitted directly from the respective equipment, there is virtually zero human intervention in the results reporting. This has also meaningfully contributed in reinforcing customer and stakeholder confidence.
Authors are grateful to Arvind N. Pathak, Chief Executive Officer of Reliance Cement Company Private Limited, Mumbai for his consent to publish this paper. Input from Durgamadhab Mohanty and Sumantra Naik is also thankfully acknowledged.
Ravindra Antin, S.B.Hegde and Y.V.Satyamurthy (2013). Lab automation and advanced process control in cement industry with particular reference to India. 13 NCB International seminar on cement and building materials, New Delhi.
Vice President & CIO Cement & Power businesses Reliance Cement
Anand Budholia is responsible for the strategic planning, implementation and overall IT operations of these businesses. An alumnus of NIT Allahabad (formerly MNREC). Anand has an overall work experience of over 25 years in the manufacturing and utility industry.
Vice President and Functional Head of Quality and Material Development
Dr.S.B.Hegde has obtained his PhD degree in Applied Geology from Karnatak University, Dharwad of Karnataka State. Dr.Hegde is responsible for creating quality assurance domain for all green field integrated and grinding/blending units and also taking care for achieving quality excellence in manufacturing various products and value addition in the product development of the plants which are already commenced production.