CTM data automation
The compressive strength of cement; is a property viewed by the user of cement an important attribute for selecting a brand and to judge the superiority of a product. It is that property of cement which is tested at the age of three days, seven days and 28 days. One sample per hour and composite sample per shift and then one sample each for one full day of 24 hours is the minimum frequency of testing. Depending on the number of kilns, mills and packing plants, the number simply goes exponentially high. The samples such tested are huge and if automated can reduce considerable work load on the manpower of any plant.
Information Technology-based tools coupled with instrumentation can be used to automate the entire operation of laboratory physical and chemical testing. In case where there are multi-location plants like ACC, Ambuja, UltraTech and Shree, Dalmia Bharat, etc., monitoring the data of compressive strength from one central location is cumbersome, bit difficult and time consuming, mundane job but necessary. There an automated process for such monitoring is a boon.
Today the practice followed is that an operator in the laboratory generally undertakes the breaking of mortar cubes on analog / digital CTM machines. Some of the modern plants have installed digital machines but sizable number of plants have old analog machines. The operator checks the strength on the digital display or on dial. Then notes down the figure in the notebook or any register. Such data is kept as stated above for hourly, average sample per shift, average sample, per kiln, per mill per day, etc. It is a massive data that is handled by the laboratory personnel manually.
If the company is operated at several locations then the data is collected and send to one central place. At many of the units the entire operation is still manual or partially automated. In the present environment the operation can be fully automated using IT tools and instrumentation. The data, which is repeatedly entered manually in various registers, gives a chance for manipulation can be easily avoided. Use of excel spread sheets can provide a tool for various kind of analysis, which is a plus point.
Though the initial cost may be slightly higher but in the long run it is in the interest of the operating plant to have such kind of system. One such exercise has been successfully carried out by Drishti Software Solutions based at Kolhapur for a multinational large cement manufacturer in the country. The results are quite encouraging.
- Limitations of a manual system
- Data distributed across many systems/formats
- Multiple environments/ multiple locations
- No integrated reporting
- Data volume is extremely high
- Tedious to make some trend reports
Questions before top management:
- What has been my strength and test results in different geographies/over a period of time?
- Which are our high/low strength performer?
- What is the real-time scenario?
- How we can reduce time to prepare a report or to collect strength data?
- On what time we were very low in strength and at what time we were best?
- What are the areas of low strengths and how are they improving?
Automated system can provide:
- Facility to record, the sample collection data with a unique Sample ID
- Physical and chemical test register generation
- Direct input of test data value to selected sample
- Averaging of cube breaking data
- Discarding or inconsideration of cube peak force facility
- Pace or momentum capture facility
- Report generation, alerts mechanism, analytical reporting Ranking - Top 10, Last 10
- Aggregation - (Effective strengths, average value for a given samples, standard deviation, trend analysis)
- Comparison - last batch v/s current batch
- Access to detailed and aggregate data
- Different departments gets to look at same data in different dimensions
- Graphical representation of data
- Fast decision making
- Integration of data across all location
- Summary of data has a real value to organisation
- Historical data converted to information holds key to understanding the trend
- Low maintenance cost
This information/article is based on the inputs given by Abhay Hukkeri of Drishti Software Solutions. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org