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Digitalisation: The path to revolutionise cement production

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Cement producers are adopting Industry 4.0 across the flowsheet, taking advantage of digital solutions not only to support equipment availability, but also to reduce fuel consumption, increase production, improve product quality and save energy.

"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 ? 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.

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Economy & Market

We are shaping the future of clean air

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Monil Parikh, Managing Director, Techflow Enterprises Pvt Ltd, leads us to a better understanding of how cutting-edge designs and advanced technologies are revolutionising the process of filtration, driving efficiency and environmental responsibility within the cement sector.

Tell us about your air pollution control systems.
Techflow Enterprises, operating from our expansive 30,000 sq m facility, which is one of India’s largest, manufactures a comprehensive suite of air pollution control systems specifically designed for cement plants. Our solutions include:

Pulse Jet Bag Filters: Employing compressed air for efficient cleaning, these capture fine dust particles generated during grinding and packing. Techflow’s bag filters are designed to restrict the outlet emission up to 5mg/Nm3.
Electrostatic Precipitators (ESPs): Ideal for ultra-fine particulate matter in kiln exhaust gases, ESPs utilise an electric field for superior dust capture with 99.9 per cent capacity.
Centrifugal Fans: We offer various fans like induced draft (ID) fans for draft creation, process fans for dust-laden air transport, and kiln fans for high-temperature gas streams.
Techflow’s commitment to quality is evident in our proven track record. We are actively supplying solutions to leading cement players like Adani Cements, Ambuja and ACC Cement, Dalmia Bharat Cement and Wonder Cement. Our installations across India and Asia stand as a testament to our expertise in handling cement plant dust control challenges.

How do your products and systems integrate with cement plants?
Techflow’s air pollution control systems seamlessly integrate into your existing cement plant. Our pulse jet bag filters fit effortlessly downstream of grinding mills and packing stations, effectively capturing fine dust particles generated during these processes. Electrostatic Precipitators (ESPs) excel in kiln exit gas streams, working alongside existing cyclones to achieve ultra-fine particulate control, a critical step in maintaining clean air emissions.
Techflow’s comprehensive offering of centrifugal fans ensures a perfect fit for any application. Our ID fans seamlessly integrate into the kiln system, creating the necessary draft to pull exhaust gases through the air pollution control equipment. Process fans, strategically placed throughout the plant, efficiently convey dust-laden air from various generation points, like clinker coolers and raw material handling, towards the filtration units. This modular approach minimises disruption during installation and ensures optimal dust collection across your entire cement production process.
How do your innovative designs better the process of filtration at cement plants bringing efficiency to the process?
Techflow’s commitment to innovation translates to superior filtration efficiency and operational cost savings for cement plants. Our pulse jet bag filters incorporate features like:

  • High-efficiency filter media: Designed for specific dust types, this media minimises pressure drop across the filter, reducing energy consumption.
  • Improved flue gas entry design
  • Low Pressure Cleaning Systems
  • Optimised pulse cleaning systems: These systems efficiently dislodge dust cake buildup using compressed air, maximising filter media life, and minimising downtime.

Our ESPs utilise advanced electrode designs to enhance particle collection and reduce maintenance intervals. Furthermore, Techflow’s centrifugal fans are meticulously crafted for superior aerodynamic performance, leading to lower energy consumption and improved overall plant efficiency.
Techflow has developed a SMART-LINK automation module for better maintenance and real-time remote tracking of performance of each equipment. Cement plants equipped with Techflow’s systems experience reduced operational costs, minimised downtime and compliance with ever-evolving environmental regulations.

What is the key differentiator between traditional filters and modern filters?
Traditional bag filter systems often relied on manual cleaning methods, leading to inconsistent performance, increased downtime, and potential worker exposure to dust. Modern pulse jet bag filters, like those offered by Techflow, address these limitations.
Our systems leverage automated cleaning mechanisms, ensuring consistent filtration efficiency and minimal operator intervention. Additionally, advanced filter media materials in Techflow’s bag filters offer superior dust capture capabilities compared to traditional fabric filters.
This commitment to modern technology translates to a safer and more efficient and environmentally friendly dust control solution for cement plants.

Can your designs be customised as per the requirement of the customers?
At Techflow, we understand that every cement plant has unique dust control requirements. That is why we prioritise customisation across our entire product range:

Pulse Jet Bag Filters: Filter media type and micron rating based on dust properties, number of filter bags, and pulse cleaning system configuration like cycle time and pressure can all be adjusted to optimise performance for your specific dust and airflow. The system can be designed to achieve less than 5mg/Nm3 outlet emission standards as well.

  • Electrostatic Precipitators (ESP): ESP design can be customised with features like the number of electrode rows, electrode spacing, and power input like voltage and current to achieve the desired dust collection efficiency for your specific outlet emission capacity less than 20mg/Nm3.
  • Centrifugal Fans: Fan designs are tailored by adjusting factors like impeller diameter, blade design, and motor size to meet the specific pressure and flow requirements of various processes within a cement plant.

This focus on customisation ensures Techflow’s air pollution control systems perfectly match your cement plant’s needs, guaranteeing optimal dust capture and efficient operation.

What is the role of technology and automation in building filtration systems?
Techflow has designed a SMART-LINK System that can be integrated to our equipment which tracks and monitors performance of equipment in real time.

  • Continuous diagnostics
  • Condition-based maintenance
  • Prevention of unplanned downtime
  • Early problem detection using AI
  • Data collection for process optimisation and efficiency maximisation
  • Auto alert with warning driving timely human interactions
  • Remote maintenance assistance by Techflow Team.

What are the major challenges in the filtration process and your system integration at cement plants?
The cement industry’s focus on sustainability, higher production and diverse fuel sources creates filtration hurdles. Adapting to changing dust properties, handling increased dust loads, and integrating seamlessly within space constraints are key challenges.
Techflow tackles these issues through advanced design techniques, exploration of innovative filter media, and modular system design. This ensures our filtration systems remain adaptable, efficient and seamlessly integrated within your cement plant, empowering your success.

How do you plan to further better your products and bring innovation in the future?
At Techflow, we are not just building filtration systems, we are shaping the future of clean air in the Indian cement industry. After successful expansion of the manufacturing facility in 2023, now it is time to improve designs and process optimisation. The future holds exciting possibilities: next-generation filter media with self-cleaning properties and
extended lifespans, minimising maintenance and maximising efficiency.
Techflow’s legendary after-sales support is about to get even better. We are expanding our global service network to provide you with 24/7 access to a team of India’s most experienced filtration specialists, ensuring your system operates flawlessly throughout its lifecycle.
Together, we will lead the way towards a sustainable future, paving the path for a greener tomorrow with green cement.

  • Kanika Mathur

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Economy & Market

Digitalisation is changing the logistics landscape

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Haresh Calcuttawala, CEO and Co-Founder, Trezix, explains how their platform streamlines export processes, optimises logistics operations, and addresses the challenges faced by the cement industry.

How does your platform help in the compliance of cement exports?
The Trezix platform helps with the end-to-end processes for exporters, ensuring complete visibility of these processes focusing on shipments, documents, compliances, etc. The platform is also integrated with various stakeholders’ part of the export process including integration with Unified Logistics Integration Platform (ULIP) by the Government of India.

What is the impact of your systems on the cost and productivity of a cement plant?
The Trezix platform helps to optimise the turnaround time, visibility of shipment and improving efficiencies, which results in optimisation in logistics cost and improvement in working capital.

What are the major challenges in logistics and how can that be resolved?
A major challenge in the cement industry is the logistics cost and time for delivery. This can only be resolved with faster turnaround time, complete visibility of shipments, delivery lead time and process control to adhere to compliance.

Tell us your views on the change technology is bringing to logistics.
In the cement industry, so far technology has been more focused on internal process, and optimising demand and supply in the area of supply chain. However, now the focus has completely shifted to external stakeholders and their processes, and how have we integrated processes to further optimise the logistics execution.

Can your systems and solutions be customised based on customer requirements?
Every customer has some unique value proposition for their customer segment. Trezix has flexibility by way of configuration to adhere to industry needs and specific customer needs, keeping in mind the regulatory processes are not deviated to fulfil statutory requirements.

How do you foresee the face of logistics changing for the cement industry?
Digitalisation is one of the biggest waves you can see in the logistics space, which is changing the face of the industry. Digitalisation is changing the logistics landscape. Various concepts like Just In Time (JIT) to customer delivery are now a reality. Vehicle utilisation, fuel efficiency, delivery visibility, vehicle tracking through RFID, Fastag, FOIS (rail receipt tracking), container/cargo tracking across geography is now a reality.

  • Kanika Mathur

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Concrete

Drones can ferry small batches of cement

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Ankit Kumar, Co-Founder and CEO, Skye Air, highlights the advantages of drone deliveries for the cement industry to improve the overall operational efficiency and cost-effectiveness of the supply chain.

What is the environmental impact that drone deliveries can create?
Drone deliveries have the potential to significantly reduce environmental impact compared to conventional delivery methods. By utilising drones, the carbon footprint of last-mile delivery can be slashed by eliminating the need for vehicles and vans, which emit greenhouse gases during transport. In fact, studies have shown that drone deliveries can reduce carbon emissions by up to 80 per cent compared to traditional delivery methods. Additionally, drones provide more direct routes, minimising congestion and further lowering emissions.
Furthermore, Skye Air’s implementation of drone technology can contribute to a substantial decrease in air pollution. Traditional delivery vehicles, powered by fossil fuels, contribute significantly to air pollution, whereas drones operate on cleaner energy sources, such as electricity. As a result, the adoption of drone technology by Skye Air could lead to a notable reduction in harmful pollutants released into the atmosphere.
It’s worth noting that Skye Air is committed to continuous monitoring and optimisation of its operations to ensure that the environmental benefits of drone delivery are maximised. Through data-driven analysis and innovative strategies, Skye Air aims to further enhance the efficiency and sustainability of its drone delivery services.
In conclusion, while drone deliveries offer significant environmental benefits, rigorous management and innovation are essential to mitigate any potential negative effects and ensure the long-term viability of drone delivery operations.

Tell us about the efficiency created by drone delivery systems.
Skye Air has spearheaded a paradigm shift in the logistics industry by substantially augmenting efficiency in their drone deliveries. Drones can help circumvent traditional road networks, bypass traffic congestion and surmount logistical impediments, facilitating expeditious and direct transportation of goods. This heightened efficiency is particularly conspicuous in exigent circumstances, such as the delivery of medical supplies to remote regions or the expeditious fulfillment of urgent orders. By harnessing the capabilities of drones, Skye Air optimises delivery routes, curtails fuel consumption, and mitigates the overall operational costs inherent in conventional delivery methodologies.
Indeed, empirical data underscores the efficacy of drone deliveries, showcasing a significant reduction in delivery times by up to 50 per cent compared to traditional methods. Moreover, drone deliveries have been shown to minimise fuel usage by approximately 60 per cent, contributing to substantial environmental conservation efforts.
Furthermore, the automation of the delivery process not only expedites operations but also bolsters efficiency, resulting in enhanced customer satisfaction rates. With streamlined processes and expedited turnaround times, Skye Air sets a new standard for excellence in the logistics domain.

What is the role of digitalisation and technology in your delivery and transport system?
In Skye Air, digitalisation and technology serve as pivotal catalysts in revolutionising our delivery and transport system. Through the integration of cutting-edge drone technology like Skye UTM, we have established a streamlined and efficient delivery process. Our drones are equipped with state-of-the-art navigation systems and sensors, enabling precise and secure delivery routes. Skye UTM stands as the most advanced and indigenised Aerial Traffic Management platform, designed to furnish situational awareness, autonomous navigation, risk assessment, and traffic management to all drone and aerial mobility operators across the airspace. Skye UTM has already facilitated successful BVLOS (Beyond Visual Line of Sight) drone flights. The Skye UTM captures over 255+ parameters of UAV movements, storing them in its ‘Black box’, which comprises a published systematic description of the entire flight. This platform offers the inaugural 3-Dimensional view of the drone airspace, alongside operations and regulations mapping servers, furnishing the latest airspace status, verified paths, and exhibiting real-time UAV movements. Furthermore, our digital platforms empower customers to seamlessly place orders and track their deliveries in real-time. This digitalisation not only amplifies the velocity and precision of our deliveries but also ensures transparency and accountability throughout the entire process.

Can drone deliveries be incorporated with the cement industry in the future?
In the foreseeable future, the incorporation of drone deliveries holds promise for integration within the cement industry, presenting efficient and swift transportation solutions for materials. The sophisticated drone technology prevalent in logistics stands poised to collaborate seamlessly with cement companies, optimising their supply chain operations. Drones can ferry small batches of cement or other construction materials to remote or challenging-to-access locations, thereby diminishing reliance on conventional transportation modes such as trucks and mitigating logistical complexities. Through the strategic utilisation of drones, the cement industry stands to bolster its efficiency, curtail costs and elevate overall operational efficacy.

  • Kanika Mathur

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