Digitalisation: The path to revolutionise cement production
"Digital technologies are having a major impact on cement production. Leading cement producers are embracing digitalisation as a critical enabler of productivity." Rather than slowing the pace of digital adoption, COVID-19 has shone a spotlight on just how important digital solutions and data analytics are for the cement industry. When it becomes difficult or even impossible to be at site, the value of digitalisation becomes even more apparent.
For decades, we have worked on creating innovative solutions, enabling our customers to increase productivity and resolve challenges. Today we continue that journey into the area of digitalisation and data-based optimisation.
Driving growth through productivity
There are two main ways that digital solutions can improve plant performance. The first is through increasing reliability by monitoring asset health and acting fast on downtime indicators. The second is by refining performance û reacting to operating conditions to optimise throughput and efficiency.
To achieve all this, digital solutions need to be adopted as part of a wider digital strategy that aligns with your business processes and overall goals. This requires a holistic approach involving different disciplines and functional areas, drawing on both equipment and process expertise.
Working together with cement producers, we are continually investing in the development and integration of new, effective digital solutions that meet and anticipate the needs of the cement industry.
Utilising IoT technologies for cement plant optimisation
Connectivity-based technologies, often referred to as the Internet of Things (IoT), offer huge potential for the cement industry. By bringing together information and operations technology, the IoT enables you to gather valuable data from plant equipment for further analysis. Understanding this data helps cement plant managers to make more informed decisions on their operations, leading to better process outcomes.
Of course, data security is an important aspect of digitalisation. Our Field Agent is on the case. Field Agent is a conduit, connecting machines and plant to Microsoft Azure cloud. Data transfer is highly secure and stored data is protected with unique encryption.
FLSmidth's Field Agent is an EC 62443 Compliant and UL and CE Certified product.
Improving product quality with advanced process control
Our digital solutions range from automation and quality control software systems to monitoring systems and advanced data analytics.
For example, our advanced process control software solution, ECS/ProcessExpert, is used by many cement producers to stabilise and optimise key cement processes. The solution offers the potential to:
- Increase production in kiln and mill applications
- Reduce fuel consumption and save energy in kiln and mill applications
- Reduce process and quality variability
The ability to predict cement quality is particularly important. To achieve high-quality cement, you need homogeneous raw meal and consistent operations throughout the plant. Our quality and control solutions enable you to monitor the input material and automatically adjust the operation of the grinding and pyro processing systems to gain the best output.
Turning Big Data into actionable insights
Data alone can't support process improvements - but data combined with analytics can help you to spot trends and identify issues before they escalate: the foundation of a predictive maintenance strategy. Predictive maintenance aims to avoid unplanned downtime by taking timely action to address maintenance issues. This requires sensors attached to all critical machines to monitor conditions such as vibration, temperature and pressure - also known as online condition monitoring. The data from these sensors is collected through Field Agent and can also be connected to FLSmidth's Remote Asset Monitoring centre for expert analysis.
Analytics-driven predictive maintenance is a key driver of digital transformation within the cement industry - and a sure-fire way to boost equipment availability and cut costs.
Real-time performance updates with SiteConnect™¢
Our specially-developed Mobile Insights app, SiteConnect™¢, gives you real-time access to the performance and health data of your critical assets, anywhere, any time.
- On demand access to plant/equipment performance data
- On demand access to plant/equipment health and availability data
- Notifications on your phone when user defined events occur, such as downtime or production shortage
- Compare performance between plants and/or equipment to identify higher/lower performing assets
SiteConnect is offered as a subscription or with the sale of a related product for cement plants.
24/7 remote troubleshooting and support
One of the great benefits of digitalisation is the ability to have a team of experts to hand at the touch of a button. Currently, more than 200 plant sites around the world benefit from our secure, 24/7 remote monitoring support and online troubleshooting services. Plant personnel no longer have to worry about missing critical maintenance indicators.
As a digitalisation pioneer in the cement industry, we have been developing solutions for equipment control, process optimisation and plant optimisation ever since digital technologies were first introduced into industrial production processes. We draw on this experience and the expertise of our global network to help cement producers achieve greater levels of productivity, decrease their environmental impact, and create ever-safer working conditions.
cement industry is on the path to digital transformation - are you keeping up?
Areas such as remote monitoring and diagnosis, predictive maintenance, and process optimisation are at the heart of the cement industry's digital transformation journey and the benefits - ranging from increased uptime and improved throughput to safety, cost savings and environmental gains - are evident. Looking ahead, we anticipate that those cement producers who are early adopters of digital technologies will be empowered, finding new ways to drive efficiency and deliver sustainable productivity, while those who lag behind may find it a struggle to compete on all fronts.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: The article is authored by Rizwan Sabjan, Deputy General Manager, Global Sales Support, Group Digital, FLSmidth.