The cement industry is an asset-centric sector and results in 6 to 8 per cent of global CO2 emissions. It is also responsible for a quarter of the emissions released by the industrial sector. One way to curtail such issues is by transitioning the cement manufacturing process with the help of digital technology. According to an article by McKinsey & Company, the two trends the cement industry should embrace today include digitalisation and sustainability. This need was heightened during the COVID-19 pandemic, during which the cement manufacturing sector completely halted. Hence, the industry is still recovering from its lost revenues. All this leads to the fact that cement manufacturers should start moving toward a digital world whereby cement players are more resilient to future disruptions. This article will go through some key technologies that cement manufacturers should equip their factories with.
Four Ways To Digitalise Cement Manufacturing
Industry 4.0 technology has been a trending tool for manufacturers of all industries. This is no exception for cement manufacturers, who, too, aim to automate daily processes and reduce overall cost and waste produced by their operations. Technologies under industry 4.0 are powerful tools that allow cement manufacturers to adopt sustainable practices whilst digitalising their operations. Here are five key technologies that should be integrated into a cement manufacturing organisation.
Internet of Things (IoT)
IoT is one of the most critical technologies that cement manufacturers need to integrate into their operations to transition into automation. IoT is at the foundation of detecting and predicting asset breakdowns, as it collects the necessary data through its powerful sensors located in multiple locations in the manufacturing factory. From sensors that detect vibrations, temperatures, infrared, sound and others, IoT holds a significant hold in finding the root cause of a problem in its initial stages. Sensors also help cement manufacturers during fleet management by monitoring the condition of the vehicle used to transport any raw material, inventory or other equipment required for cement manufacturing from one place to another. It also helps manufacturers remotely ensure that the items carried inside the vehicle are in a suitable condition. At the same time, manufacturers can prevent delays by directing drivers to change routes based on weather and road conditions, which IoT sensors help monitor and predict. Since the cement industry includes multiple factory hazards, incorporating IoT creates a safe environment for employees. Not only can automation help eliminate instances where humans come in direct contact with dangerous situations, but where any accident does occur, IoT applications can dispatch help as soon as possible.
Digital twins are one of the core technologies cement manufacturers attempt to integrate to combat climate change. The production process in the cement industry consumes a lot of energy, requiring additional costs, resources, and effort to be exerted. With digital twins, however, manufacturers can mirror the production stage through a digital model. Through this, you can monitor the feasibility of a certain aspect in every stage, including when it is in the supply chain. Various stimulation tests can be carried out to assess the impact of new raw materials on the operation. As digital twins process an enormous amount of data speedily, manufacturers can depend on real-time information to make reliable decisions. It can help engineers and designers perfect a specific product design without wasting resources or incurring additional expenses. In other words, instead of having to build or manufacture every time a product is being tested, with digital twins, manufacturers can, in one go, manufacture the perfect item that shows long-term potential. Thus, less energy is consumed in cement manufacturing factories, significantly reducing their carbon footprint.
Predictive and Prescriptive Maintenance
One central reason for cement plants to fail or to have a heavy financial burden is the lack of asset maintenance. Cement plants face increasing losses due to downtime, thereby heightening the need to incorporate predictive and prescriptive maintenance. This technology integrates artificial intelligence (AI) and IoT sensors to detect and predict anomalies in advance. By assessing the data collected by IoT sensors and using the power of AI and machine learning (ML), predictive and prescriptive analytics detect patterns, take advantage of historical data, and provide accurate and reliable information on when maintenance is required. While it provides manufacturers with key insights required to carry out scheduled maintenance, it also can predict anomalies that occur for other reasons. The manufacturer is warned of its criticality when there is even a small change. For instance, the cement industry consists of raw materials of varying sizes, often ranging between 6 to 40 microns in diameter, that can easily be subjected to wear and tear. By using vibrational analysis, predictive maintenance technologies can easily detect any shifting changes. This allows cement companies to carry out repairs based on criticality and to budget their finances accordingly.
AI is the brain of industry 4.0 technology. It is at the very heart of IIoT and predictive and prescriptive maintenance. For instance, AI allows predictive maintenance systems to mimic human-like capabilities, find the anomaly and notify the manufacturer. It is also what inspires and influences complex algorithms that integrate with ML. AI is additionally a key component of other emerging technologies, including digital twins. It contributes to achieving sustainability standards and improves quality and operational excellence. One unique feature of AI is that it integrates all departments and functions, allowing factories to analyse how operators interact with control systems and how quickly they respond. AI can also be used in the kiln process, where cement products are put in a heating oven to monitor the CO2 emissions released during drying, preheating, burning, and cooling.
Cerexio MES: Empowering Cement Manufacturers with Industry 4.0
Cerexio MES is an all-in-one solution that meets your manufacturing needs. It helps you maintain end-to-end control over your manufacturing operations by interconnecting, advancing and automating your processes within a single console. Powered by industry 4.0 technology, Cerexio MES includes digital twins, predictive and prescriptive analytics, AI, ML, and other capabilities that help cement manufacturers digitalise their factories. Cerexio MES is one of the leading solutions in Asia and the world that is known to help detect your CO2 emissions and achieve your sustainability goals. It also maximises labour utilisation whilst creating a safe environment that removes employees from hazardous risks. Moreover, detecting anomalies in their initial stages means that Cerexio eliminates downtime and significantly improves your overall finances.
Connect with us to learn what other industry 4.0 technologies are included in its solution when incorporating CerexioMES into your cement factory.
It Is Time for Cement Manufacturers to Embrace Industry 4.0
Since the pandemic, the industrial players in the cement industry have been trying to catch up with the number of losses they faced for almost two years. Due to the lack of technologies and digitalisation tools adopted in cement factories, the need to enter the industry 4.0 world has been more clear than ever. While investing in such solutions will be costly, the long-term advantages make industry 4.0-powered solution suites a worthy investment. A compact solution that can provide hidden insights, which no human can accurately predict in a short period, is why implementing at least the four core technologies referred to above is mandatory.