ABB is at the forefront of offering integrated solutions for the cement sector including scalable automation solutions. Understanding user needs and making products user friendly are among the company´s success factors, says Manish Chordia.
Energy costs constitute the highest percentage of production cost, with the cement industry consuming approximately15 million toe (tonne of oil equivalent) per year, or about 9 per cent of total industrial fuel used. While efforts to reduce energy consumption and cost are possible by using higher efficiency equipment and substituting fuels and raw materials, product quality and plant productivity cannot be looked in silos.
The optimal operating point within the boundaries of these variable constraints depends on the right price mix of fuels and timely purchases of electrical energy. Plant-wide automation solutions from ABB aim at finding an optimal operation point while maximising product quality and productivity, at the lowest energy consumption and with the least environmental impact.
The need for operational excellence in cement manufacturing has reached a new pinnacle as demand-supply mechanics, capacity utilisation and price dynamics are enough variables to create huge margin pressures for every single manufacturer, independent of size and scale. One way to achieve excellence is deploying advanced collaborative production management solutions, which offer real-time process feedback and analytical tools.
The starting point is to have a reliable integrated process and power DCS that offers a host of functionality and features including improving operator effectiveness. ABB´s System 800xA is one such platform and ensures improvement in overall productivity and profitability.
The cement sector is remaining competitive by leveraging some key benefits that include:
Consistent product quality that can be achieved through optimisation solutions
Maximising energy efficiency by better process stabilisation across the value chain.
Minimising energy costs by focussing on reducing electrical & thermal energy
Optimise laboratory operation through simplified workflow and seamless integration with production info. system.
Benefits can be realised when all processes, operations and systems work in tandem in a truly integrated way. ABB´s Collaborated Production Management (CPM) solutions offer complete and true integration across the entire manufacturing process, while conserving energy and achieving consistent quality. We are seeing the growing need for operator effectiveness on account of the challenges associated with hiring and retaining experienced operators while ensuring legacy and contemporary systems are best utilised. ABB offers the Extender Operator Workstation (EOW); a state-of-the-art operating station that improves the productivity of operators, minimises production losses and improves plant performance.
Many technologies that improve energy efficiency are readily available and can help achieve typically energy savings of 5 to 35 per cent. But a greater scope for savings lies in what exists between multiple and many processes and systems that often go unnoticed including facilities management, maintenance and support processes such as electrification, compressed air, steam and water.
For this reason, ABB advocates a holistic approach -¼ understanding where and how energy is used so you can prioritise processes that will bring the highest benefits. This improved ´energy transparency´ also helps build the business case for future efficiency investments, creating a process for continuous improvement much like those for quality and operational excellence.
ABB´s plant-wide automation aims at optimal operations, maximising product quality and productivity, at the lowest energy consumption point and with the least environmental impact. This is achieved through a combination of variable speed drives (VSD), advanced process control, energy monitoring and reporting. Electrical energy savings of up to 70 per cent can be achieved by using VSD over a fixed-speed motor and damper. The multi-drive solution provides the optimised drive solution for the grate cooler.
Control and optimisation of the kiln reduces thermal fuel consumption by up to 8 per cent. ABB also offers an integrated system for effective utilisation of waste heat of a plant. Exhaust heat that is generally wasted, can be converted into electricity ù efficiently, economically and CO2-free. Reliable equipment and proven technical solutions ensure efficient use of energy without jeopardising the quality and productivity of a cement plant.
ABB offers the tools and systems to help reduce energy cost, and manage carbon footprint:
Expert Optimizer (EO) is based on proven ABB technology and with a user-friendly interface that enables operators optimise the entire process - at the push of a button. While addressing critical parameters such as variable raw material and fuel quality, shift-to-shift variations while providing optimal output and optimal process efficiency. EO modules cover the most critical components and equipment in your plant: kiln, alternative fuel, mills and blending (some of which are explained below).
Kiln optimisation - The kiln process is intrinsically unstable and influenced by long-time delays and large perturbations. EO firstly stabilises the process before driving the key manipulated variables to the process limits. Your benefits are significant: EO will control your kiln like your best operator performing at his optimum 365/24/7.
Alternative fuel management: Burning alternative fuels can lead to instability in the clinker manufacturing process. EO controls, mixes and monitors rates of alternative fuels to ensure consistent burning, whilst ensuring the kiln does not become unstable due to changes in fuel calorific value.
Mill optimisation: Grinding makes up a big portion of the electrical energy consumed on the plant, thus the efficiency of grinding operations has a big influence on your energy bill. EO optimises your grinding circuit to increase throughput and secure consistent output quality while lowering energy consumption.
Material blending: Stable and correct proportioned raw meal is essential for energy-efficient clinker production. Cement blended at the right proportions is essential for you to meet the specifications of your finished cements and thus to deliver a quality product to your end-customers. EO provides solutions for both raw material blending and cement blending.
About the author:
Manish Chordia, is Asst Vice President, Market Segment Manager û Cement Process utomation-Industry Solutions, ABB.