FLSmidth Laboratory Automation Solution
FLSmidth Laboratory Automation Solution

FLSmidth Laboratory Automation Solution

FLSmidth, an important cement industry equipment and service provider, has its own version of a robotic laboratory. The facility helps to control cement quality and fully meets industry standards for reliability and robustness in an industrial environment.

Cement plants are facing increasingly tough requirements for sample analysis quality and complexity, and for sample throughput. This is partly a result of environmental regulations placing stricter controls on cement production, both in terms of pollution and energy consumption.

In addition, the current economic climate demands 24/7/365 cement plant operation, with as little manpower as possible, with increased productivity.

Many cement plants are in areas where it is difficult to recruit skilled engineers, and people who are available often spend less time in the same job. Remote operation, support from distant locations, and online assistance are all vital for the smooth operation of quality control systems in modern cement plants. The trend in cement plant quality control systems is to meet the following requirements:
Improve the speed and accuracy of sample results;
Meet the stricter controls required for the cement market;
Support 24/7/365 operations;
Achieve zero health and safety incidents.

Supporting product quality control at all stages
The QCX? system from FLSmidth is designed to control cement quality in cement plants and it fully meets industry standards for reliability and robustness in an industrial environment. Automated sampling, sample preparation and analysis provide fast, reliable and consistent information for quality and process control.

The system supports quality control at all relevant stages of cement production in a single, integrated system. Combined with FLSmidth's extensive experience in cement plant process control, the system incorporates in-depth understanding of production environments and the high requirements for speed and performance. The modular system architecture allows for any degree of automation.

It can be scaled from small task-targeted automation units to large, fully automated laboratories.

KPI for the Quality Laboratory

  • Cost-effective production with high quality;
  • Strict documentation requirements;
  • Continuous plant operation.

Cost-effective production with high quality
Cement production requires fast and correct results to improve quality and reduce operational costs. The Laboratory Automation System transports the samples from the plant to the laboratory; the samples travel 1,500 metres in seconds. The Centaurus, Combined Mill and Press prepare the sample for XRF analysis. The entire process of sampling, preparation and analysis of various equipment like XRF, Free Lime Analysis and Blaine analysis can be done together in the automated laboratory in a foolproof system.

Strict documentation requirements
Stricter QC and audit trail requirements are part of the daily operation of cement plants. The QCX system supports unmanned documented handling of material from process to analysis, avoiding introducing human errors.

Continuous plant operation
For 24/7 plant operation, the process laboratory must operate constantly with only very few, short stops. This means that efficient maintenance and service of all equipment is crucial. To support 24/7 plant operation, the QCX system monitors key components' KPIs, enabling verification of run hours and end of lifetime for wear parts facilitating spare-part sourcing and reducing downtime for maintenance is part of FLSmidth 's global support organisation for fast and easy remote troubleshooting.

A solution for every need
FLSmidth's comprehensive equipment portfolio, designed specifically for cement production laboratories, ranges from manual machines and automated units to fully automated, high-capacity laboratories. By design, most of FLSmidth's laboratory equipment is semi-automated and can also be operated manually, as standalone equipment. This means you have the advantage of implementing stepwise automation and of ensuring operation, even when part of the automated laboratory is being serviced.

The QCX system ensures that your process laboratory delivers safe, efficient and accurate analysis quickly and with as few operators as possible. The advanced, user-friendly system can be tailored according to your specific cement production needs, including special cement and fuels, and supports 24/7/365 operation. More than 40 years of development across multiple hardware platforms and a comprehensive base of installed systems has made the QCX system the frontrunner in the cement industry. Automated laboratory solutions from FLSmidth are setting new industrial standards in terms of ease of use, flexibility, reliability and scalability.

Inconsistency in sampling
Sampling inconsistency and inaccurate analysis results contribute to laboratory errors, creating process fluctuations and disrupting productivity, equipment lifetime and especially product quality.

Sampling is the critical first step in the quality control chain. Without correct sampling, preparation and analysis are only a lottery. Balancing your cement plant's chemistry can be challenging. Sampling inconsistency and inaccurate analysis results contribute to laboratory errors. These errors create process fluctuations and disrupt productivity, reducing equipment life while jeopardizing product quality. According to 'Sample Theory Studies', the quality errors come from: Sampling (86.5 per cent); preparation (9 per cent) and analysis (4.5 per cent).

Accurate, automatic sample analysis assists you to take control of your cement plant's chemistry, its performance and the quality of its output.

QCX/AutoSampling V8 from FLSmidth controls automatic sampling and pneumatic transport of sampled material from the process areas to the production laboratory, and it remains unmatched in its software functionality and performance.

Automated sampling results in samples being taken at the right time, at the right place and consistently. It's a safe choice. It also:

  • Ensures sampling quality remains high and samples are representative of the larger production;
  • Allows for fail-safe sample identification, including timestamp;
  • Minimises sample-to-sample cross contamination;
  • Provides automated composite/average sampling.

Automated sampling combined with automatic transportation results in:

  • Fast turnaround times from sampling to analysis;
  • Full sample traceability - where and when was this sample taken;
  • Improved quality control;
  • Optimised overall sample-taking schedule;
  • Flexible operator call for additional samples;
  • High system availability;
  • Easy connectivity to automatic sample preparation systems;
  • No health and safety issues as no humans are needed for sample taking;
  • Less labour requirements, allowing the workforce to undertake other important tasks;
  • Improved and fast troubleshooting and maintenance through informative faceplates describing all information from the samplers and sending stations;
  • Tube transport systems have been employed for fast sample transportation in harsh industrial environments since the 1960s. FLSmidth has been involved since the early days and has gained a market-leading position within this technology through execution of hundreds of projects with automated sampling and sample transportation to customers worldwide;
  • QCX/AutoSampling provides automatic sampling and pneumatic transport of sampled material from the process areas to a central production laboratory or to designated 'satellite' laboratories;
  • Manual, semi-automatic, or fully automated send/receive stations are available both at the process end and at the laboratory end of a pneumatic sample transport system. Sampling equipment for powder, granulate or and lumpy materials can be connected to the process send/receive stations, thereby ensuring fully automated procedures;
  • Samples are transported in sample cartridges (or carriers or shuttles). For dry powder/granulates, typically 200-500 cc material is sent to the laboratory;
  • The applied advanced logic control programming techniques (oQCXSYSo) ensures cost-effective engineering for the specific project as well as providing a very high quality and consistency in both overall and device control. Directly from the PC screen, mimic diagrams (so-called 'face-plates') provide easy accessible operational and diagnostic details from the device control level.
  • Samples are sent from the process stations to receive/send stations in the laboratory in accordance with individual sample priorities and wait list status. Sample entities like sampling location, product type, sampling time, etc., are automatically passed on to the next handling stage, whether manual or automatic. The integrated automation concept includes advanced priority handling schemes: in case an equipment error leads to reduced capacity in the automated preparation system, it is possible to automatically scale down the automatic sampling & sample transport activity, so that lower priority samples are skipped or called for less frequently;
  • Automatic sample transport complements automatic sampling and creates fully automated sampling procedures;
  • Fast turnaround time from sampling to analysisl;
  • Improved product quality and related operational savings;
  • Optimised overall sample taking schedule;
  • High system availability;
  • Easy connectivity to automatic sample preparation systems;
  • Worldwide service & support.

Sampling made easy
QCX/AutoSampling V8 can be seamlessly configured to suit your work processes. FLSmidth has semi- and fully-automated samplers for all cement plant applications - from raw material to cement dispatch including a new hot kiln outlet sampler that enables very fast clinker analysis, and thereby fast feedback to chemical changes introduced in the kiln. With its intuitive user interfaces, and informative faceplates, the system provides a complete overview of all sampling issues directly at the laboratory. Most importantly, it delivers reliable samples!

FLSmidth has more than 200 QCX/AutoSampling systems installed worldwide. Fast and accurate sample preparation and analysis results in greater quality control. It sets your production capabilities apart from the rest.

FLSmidth QCX Robolab
FLSmidth's QCX/RoboLab aims to simplify some of those complexities. The single, integrated QCX/RoboLab system uses leading-edge technology to deliver automated sampling, sample pre¡paration and analysis that's fast and reliable, and provides consistent information for quality and process control at all stages of cement production.

QCX/RoboLab V8 - improved quality, reduced variance
QCX/RoboLab reduces the hard, repetitive and sometimes hazardous work in the laboratory, to reduce human errors, and to ensure safe, fast, reliable and accurate analysis. It is instrumental in achieving optimum performance.

A QCX/RoboLab system consists of semi-automated sample preparation equipment, sample manipulators, such as a robot or conveyers and manipulators, and state-of-the-art software to handle both the automation and the sample control and laboratory information management system (LIMS) functionalities.

QCX/RoboLab allows for varying degrees of automation. It can be scaled from small, task-targeted automation units to large, fully automated laboratories. Installations have ranged from systems with one robot, one sample preparation machine and one analyser to systems with eight robots and numerous other equipment.

All-in-one combined mill & press
The only all-in-one automated solution that can grind and press or just grind or just press.

FLSmidth's 'Centaurus' automatic sample preparation machine combines laboratory mill and press functions in a compact, easy-to-operate unit. Centaurus consists of an automatic fine grinding mill and an automatic pelletising press. The components for both these main functionalities are integrated in a space-saving and ergonomically designed (award-winning) housing with a footprint of only 1 m2.

The fully automatic Centaurus produces pressed powder test tablets from granular materials such as raw meal, clinker, cement, ore, slag and mine exploration samples for XRF and XRD analysis. Automated quality control systems help improve the product quality in industrial processes. FLSmidth has taken product quality one step further with the unique Centaurus sample preparation machine.

Functionality
The Centaurus houses a sample dosing device, an automatic fine-grinding mill and an automatic pelletising press in a soundproof 1m2 unit. It fits seamlessly into new or existing production laboratory set-ups.

Designed to function as a standalone system or to be integrated with linear or robotics automation systems, the Centaurus has two different operation sides - a human and an automatic side, which allows a smoothly integration into FLSmidth's QCX/RoboLab system, as well as the use as a standalone machine, because the Centaurus supports automatic feed of samples directly to any X-ray analyser.

The unique thing about Centaurus is its ability to grind sample material without pressing it, or to press sample material without grinding it.

The 'grinding only' feature is a standard functionality, while the 'pressing only' feature is an available option. Before the grinding and pressing stage, the sample material type is identified from the operator terminal, or via the interface of a supervisory quality control system such as the QCX system.

The preparation method and associated parameters are then selected and the fully automatic sample preparation process begins:
In the flagship of fully-automated sample processing, QCX/RoboLab, the Centaurus plays the main role in sample preparation.

Arriving in the automatic receiving station and filled in the cups, the robot transfers the sample to the Centaurus where the fully automatic sample preparation cycle starts.

From the output position the pressed tablet is placed on the belt leading to the X-ray machine.

QCX/Blend Expert V8
FLSmidth has more than 700 QCX/Blend Expert applications installed worldwide. With QCX/Blend Expert, the complex task of controlling varying raw materials is no longer manual. Its tight control of raw material blending reduces fuel consumption in the kiln, and it delivers kiln feed quality out of the mill, eliminating the need for well working blending silos.

Easy to install, easier to use
FLSmidth has combined more than 40 years of experience in material proportioning in the development of QCX/BlendExpert V8. The software offers significant improvements for all cement plants.

It has been designed using the latest control technologies and can be installed on a standard PC, physical or virtual, standalone or on top of another QCX system. It has an easy-to-interpret graphical interface and advanced alarm and trend capabilities.

For further details, contact: S. Sankaralingam
(Ph. +91 7358058894); Altrin Prabahar. S.
(Ph.+91 7358046923), FLSmidth Ltd.

Maximum efficiency, higher productivity
QCX/BlendExpert provides cement plants with a competitive edge and allows plant owners and managers to achieve what other plants without advanced quality control systems can't achieve.

  • Up to 60% lower standard deviation of quality targets.
  • Fast payback of system investment
  • due to:
  • Lower fuel consumption in the kiln and pre-heater;
  • Reduced equipment wear and longer lifetime of mechanical parts - less thermal stress is a direct benefit of QCX/BlendExpert's stable burning.
  • Reduced need for blending silos.
  • Higher kiln alternative fuel substitution rate.
  • Steady 24/7/365 control philosophy.
  • Intuitive user interface, providing easy overview of 'next step' process control.
  • Fast troubleshooting of material feeders through direct monitoring of feeder operation.
  • Improved accuracy and benefits of online analysers through dynamic bias correction and automated handling.
  • Optimal use of raw materials and additives, leading to cost savings.
  • Optimal control of material blending during upset conditions - no need to switch to manual control.
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