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Manufacturing Cement: The Smart Way

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ICR explores the world of IT initiatives within the cement industry in a bid to understand how these advancements are reshaping traditional practices and leading the industry towards a more streamlined and sustainable future.

The cement industry, often regarded as a traditional and age-old sector, is undergoing a remarkable transformation driven by the relentless march of technology. As the global demand for cement continues to surge, the industry is embracing a new era characterised by digitalisation, automation and IT initiatives. In a quest for sustainability, efficiency and enhanced competitiveness, cement manufacturers are harnessing the power of information technology to revolutionise their processes, production methods and overall operations.
Information Technology (IT) has emerged as the catalyst, reshaping every facet of cement manufacturing – from raw material extraction to the packing of the final product. Digitalisation, in particular, has become a driving force, enabling seamless integration of data, connectivity, and intelligent systems, paving the way for a smarter and more agile industry.

ROLE OF TECHNOLOGY
Technology has emerged as a cornerstone in the evolution of the cement industry, permeating every aspect of its operations and profoundly shaping its trajectory. Advancements in Information Technology, digitalisation, and automation have become instrumental in optimising various stages of cement production, from raw material extraction to the final product dispatch. Through the deployment of cutting-edge technologies, cement manufacturers have achieved significant improvements in process efficiency, quality control, and environmental sustainability.
In the realm of IT, sophisticated software systems and data analytics tools have revolutionised cement plant management. Real-time data monitoring and analysis enable operators to make informed decisions promptly, ensuring optimal process control and resource allocation. Furthermore, IT initiatives have facilitated seamless integration of different operational units, fostered efficient collaboration and enhanced overall productivity.
The advent of digitalisation has ushered in a new era of interconnectedness and smart manufacturing in the cement industry. From smart sensors and Internet of Things (IoT) devices to cloud-based platforms, the entire cement production chain has become increasingly interconnected, facilitating the exchange of data and insights in real-time. This digital thread not only enables streamlined communication but also empowers predictive maintenance strategies, minimising equipment downtime and reducing maintenance costs.
Automation, too, has played a pivotal role in the cement industry’s transformation. Automated systems have taken over labour-intensive tasks, optimised process control and reduced human errors. Robotic technologies have been deployed for material
handling and packaging, ensuring precision and consistency in the final product. Furthermore, advanced automation has led to the efficient utilisation of alternative fuels and raw materials, lowering the industry’s carbon footprint and contributing to environmental sustainability.
Beyond the confines of the production plant, technology has also enhanced supply chain management and logistics. With sophisticated inventory tracking systems and route optimisation software, cement manufacturers can ensure timely deliveries and minimise wastage. Additionally, the integration of smart transportation solutions has contributed to cost savings and a reduction in emissions associated with cement transportation.
The role of technology in the cement industry has been transformative, elevating the sector to new heights of efficiency, quality, and sustainability. By harnessing the potential of IT, digitalisation, and automation, cement manufacturers have unlocked opportunities for continuous improvement and innovation. As technology continues to advance, the cement industry must remain committed to embracing these developments to remain competitive and navigate the path towards a greener and more technologically-driven future.

EVOLUTION OF DIGITALISATION
Digitalisation in cement plants has witnessed a rapid and transformative evolution, ushering in a new era of smart manufacturing and process optimisation. Advancements in IT, Internet of Things (IoT), data analytics and automation have played a pivotal role in reshaping various aspects of cement plant operations.
Integration of Smart Sensors and IoT: Cement plants have embraced the deployment of smart sensors throughout the production process. These sensors collect real-time data on various parameters such as temperature, pressure, humidity and vibration.
The integration of IoT technology enables these sensors to communicate with each other and central control systems, forming a connected network that facilitates data-driven decision-making and predictive maintenance.
Real-time Monitoring and Process Control: With the abundance of data generated by smart sensors, cement plants have implemented sophisticated monitoring and control systems. Real-time data analytics enable operators to gain insights into the plant’s performance and detect anomalies promptly. Such insights empower operators to make data-driven decisions, optimise process parameters, and ensure the plant operates at peak efficiency.
Predictive Maintenance: Digitalisation has revolutionised maintenance practices in cement plants. By analysing data from equipment sensors and historical performance, predictive maintenance models can anticipate machinery failures before they occur. This approach allows for planned maintenance interventions, reducing unplanned downtime, and optimising maintenance schedules, leading to cost savings and improved asset reliability.
Cloud-based Data Storage and Analytics: Cloud computing has facilitated the storage and processing of vast amounts of data generated by cement plants. By leveraging cloud-based platforms, plants can access data remotely, enabling centralised monitoring and analysis. Cloud-based analytics provide valuable insights, enabling plant managers to benchmark performance, identify areas for improvement, and make data-driven decisions in real-time.
Enhanced Supply Chain Management: Digitalisation has improved supply chain management in cement plants by enabling real-time tracking of inventory and automating order processing. This level of visibility and automation streamlines logistics, enhances coordination with suppliers, and ensures timely deliveries, minimising downtime and improving overall operational efficiency.
Sustainability and Environmental Impact: Digitalisation has also contributed to the industry’s sustainability efforts. By closely monitoring energy consumption and emissions, cement plants can identify opportunities to reduce their environmental impact. IoT-enabled systems help optimise the use of alternative fuels and raw materials, leading to a more sustainable and low-carbon production process.

AUTOMATION AND EFFICIENCY
Automation in cement plants is a pivotal factor in achieving heightened efficiency in production and substantial cost reduction. Through the integration of sophisticated automated systems, cement manufacturers have streamlined their operations, optimised resource utilisation and mitigating human errors. These advancements have had a transformative impact on the industry, bolstering both productivity and financial gains.
A core benefit of automation lies in process optimisation, where real-time monitoring and control of critical parameters ensure optimal conditions during various stages of cement production.
By continuously adapting based on data from sensors and historical performance, these systems maintain consistent and efficient operations, enhancing overall output.
Predictive maintenance is another critical facet of automation. Through this technology, potential equipment failures are detected proactively, allowing for scheduled maintenance before major breakdowns occur. The minimised risk of unplanned downtime maximises equipment uptime, leading to increased productivity and reduced maintenance costs.
Energy efficiency is substantially improved through automation, as precise control of energy-intensive equipment, such as kilns and mills, optimises fuel and electricity consumption. Consequently, cement plants achieve significant energy savings, directly contributing to cost reduction.
Automation also contributes to waste minimisation by optimising raw material blending processes, ensuring optimal mix proportions. This precision reduces waste and corrective actions, resulting in cost savings and improved product quality.
Resource utilisation benefits from automation through precise control over dosages and flow rates. By minimising waste and enhancing material utilisation rates, cement plants reduce costs significantly.
Furthermore, automation enhances quality control, as it provides consistent and precise control over the production process. This minimises the likelihood of producing off-specification batches, ultimately reducing material rejection and rework costs. In terms of labor savings, automation automates repetitive and manual tasks, decreasing the reliance on labor. This empowers the workforce to focus on more strategic and value-added activities, enhancing overall plant efficiency.
Beyond the plant walls, automation extends its advantages to the supply chain, enabling seamless integration with suppliers and customers. This automated supply chain management optimises logistics, reducing transportation costs and ensuring timely deliveries.
Moreover, the data generated by automation is harnessed for enhanced analytics. By leveraging this data, cement plants identify areas of improvement and optimise processes further, leading to more efficient production methods and cost-saving opportunities.
“Automated AI-based predictive maintenance solutions consist of 6-in-1 wireless sensors that measure the six most important parameters of Tri-Axial Vibration, Acoustics, RPM, Temperature, Humidity and Magnetic Flux. These sensors act as the vigilant eyes and ears of the manufacturing plants, continuously monitoring the vital indicators of the health and performance of machinery. The combination of these six vital parameters equips cement plants with a holistic view of their industrial assets, allowing for data-driven decisions to optimise operations and prevent costly downtime,” says Prashant Verma, Co-founder and India Head, Nanoprecise Sci Corp.
Automation also plays a vital role in streamlining compliance with environmental and safety regulations. By automatically capturing data and generating reports, cement plants efficiently meet reporting requirements, avoiding penalties and associated costs.
Automation’s influence on cement plants is undeniably transformative. By optimising processes, reducing downtime, and improving resource utilisation, automation empowers cement manufacturers to produce higher-quality cement while simultaneously minimising operational expenses. The continual advancements in automation technology hold immense promise for the cement industry’s pursuit of sustainable and competitive operations in the future.

IT INITIATIVES AND SUSTAINABILITY
IT initiatives in cement manufacturing have emerged as a powerful catalyst for driving sustainability across various facets of the industry. By leveraging technology, cement manufacturers can optimise resource utilisation, reduce environmental impact, and enhance overall efficiency, leading to a more sustainable cement production process.
One of the key contributions of IT initiatives is in energy management. Real-time monitoring of energy consumption allows operators to identify areas of improvement and implement energy-saving measures, leading to lower greenhouse gas emissions and a more sustainable production process. Additionally, IT systems enable advanced process control and automation, optimising production processes and reducing waste and resource usage. This not only enhances product quality but also minimises the environmental footprint.
Another critical aspect of IT initiatives is the promotion of alternative fuels and raw materials. Advanced data analytics help assess the compatibility and performance of substitutes, such as biomass, waste-derived fuels, and industrial by-products. By incorporating these materials into the production process, cement manufacturers reduce reliance on traditional fossil fuels, conserve natural resources, and decrease carbon emissions.
IT initiatives also play a vital role in emissions reduction and compliance. By monitoring and controlling emissions, cement plants ensure compliance with environmental regulations and proactively address environmental impacts. Additionally, the digitisation and optimisation of the supply chain help reduce the carbon footprint associated with transportation and promote sustainable practices among suppliers.
Waste management is another area where IT initiatives make a difference. Cement plants can track and analyse waste generation data to identify opportunities for waste reduction, recycling, and reuse. This minimises the environmental burden of waste disposal and contributes to a more circular and sustainable production process.
Furthermore, data-driven decision-making, facilitated by IT initiatives, ensures sustainability goals are integrated into every aspect of the cement manufacturing process. This allows cement manufacturers to make informed and proactive decisions that enhance environmental performance and resource efficiency.
By optimising energy usage, adopting alternative materials, reducing emissions, improving waste management, and promoting data-driven decision-making, technology is reshaping the cement industry’s approach to sustainability. As these initiatives continue to evolve and expand, cement manufacturers can further enhance their environmental stewardship and contribute to a more sustainable global construction sector.

CONCLUSION
The cement industry has undergone a remarkable transformation through the integration of technology and IT initiatives. Automation, digitalisation, and data analytics have become instrumental in optimising production processes, reducing environmental impact, and enhancing overall efficiency. The adoption of smart sensors, predictive maintenance, and real-time monitoring has resulted in increased productivity, reduced downtime and minimised waste, leading to significant cost savings.
Moreover, technology-driven innovations have enabled cement manufacturers to embrace sustainable practices, such as using alternative fuels and raw materials, reducing emissions, and improving waste management. By leveraging technology to its fullest potential, the cement industry is poised to achieve a more sustainable future, one that balances economic growth with environmental responsibility.
As technology continues to evolve, cement manufacturers must remain committed to embracing innovation and leveraging IT initiatives to pave the way for a greener and more efficient cement manufacturing process. Ultimately, this transformation will not only enhance the industry’s competitiveness but also contribute to global sustainability efforts and an eco-friendlier built environment.

-Kanika Mathur

Concrete

New appointment at TMEIC

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TMEIC Industrial Systems India, a Group company of TMEIC Corporation, Japan, has announced the appointment of Hidekazu Matsushima as the new Managing Director. Matsushima has been associated with Mitsubishi Electric FA division for domestic market in Japan since 1991 and been assigned in Industrial division in 1994, where he rolled out his mission of sales, marketing and business development of General industry (GI) such as paper, film, Oil & Gas, petrochemical, cement, food, automobile, semiconductor industries in Japan. During the establishment of TMEIC in Japan in 2003, he was assigned with the responsibility for domestic GI market Sales in Japan HQ, and then in plant and energy sales department.

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Concrete

Social Impact Award for Ambuja Cements

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The West Bengal CSR unit of Ambuja Cements has won the 6th ICC Social Impact Award 2024 in the large industry category. It was recognised for its efforts in advancing ‘Gender Equality and Women Empowerment’. The CSR arm received a letter of appreciation from the Office of the Governor of West Bengal, further amplifying recognition of the organisation’s contributions to societal advancement. The initiatives undertaken by Ambuja Cements in West Bengal under the Women Empowerment programme harness the power of rural women as breadwinners, community leaders and change-makers. Encouraging women to form Self-Help Groups and Federations plays a key role in helping them achieve socio-economic empowerment.

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Concrete

UCWL unveils new plant in Dabok, Udaipur

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JK Lakshmi Cement, a subsidiary of Udaipur Cement Works Limited (UCWL), has inaugurated its state-of-the-art cement mill IV at their Dabok plant in Udaipur, Rajasthan. The new mill pushes the plant’s cement capacity from 2.2 million MT to 4.7 million MT, making it one of the key players in the industry. The new facility is expected to enhance efficiency, productivity and provide exceptional product quality owing to its cutting-edge technology equipment while incorporating innovative measures to minimise its environmental impact. The event shows UCWL’s stern commitment to excellence and its contribution to the region’s infrastructure sector.

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