For higher availability and efficiency
Digitalization is the buzzword in nearly every industry today – and cement is no exception. In the following interview, Ömer Oydaşik, Head of Siemens Cement, talks about the different digital solutions for the cement industry, and what lies on the horizon.
What is Siemens’ primary goal with digitalization for the cement industry?
Ömer Oydaşik: Our mission is to help clients increase the availability and efficiency of their plants. That includes operating plants better, increasing volumes if need be and, of course, saving money. What’s more, we offer solutions for the entire plant life cycle
Talking on life cycle: Where do you begin with digitalization?
We start with general engineering, which has changed quite a bit over the last few years. Today, intelligent engineering tools that combine all different disciplines have become the norm. Mechanical, electrical and chemical engineering – to name just three – can work in a combined database or engineering platform. If a change is made in one area, it is automatically made in all the other disciplines too.
The platform we offer here is Comos, which has been well accepted by engineering firms in the cement industry. The great point is that after engineering, modules in Comos provide the operator with the complete plant engineering data. It helps with planning, and if a revision is carried out, the data can be adjusted accordingly.
Let’s move to day-to-day operations. This is where the process automation system Cemat enters the picture, right?
Ömer Oydaşik: Yes, that’s correct. Cemat is the first product we developed exclusively for the cement industry. Starting with initial installations in Germany 45 years ago, the process automation system soon captured the market. Today more than 30 percent of players in the cement industry are using Cemat. For us, strong process automation like Cemat is the basis for digitalization in cement plants. Above and beyond that, we are entering other realms of digitalization for daily operations.
Ömer Oydaşik: We optimize different applications using Internet of Things (IoT) tools, for example MindSphere. MindSphere is the cloud-based, open IoT operating system from Siemens. Different apps can be created using MindSphere, such as for condition monitoring. Here, sensors on motors, drives and gearboxes collect data and deliver them to the cloud. The data is then analyzed by algorithms, which in turn issue automatic warnings before a failure is likely.
Now, let’s take this a step further. MindSphere can also obtain data from Cemat. And when you combine the two, customers benefit from more added value. For example, the data generated can also help us to make recommendations for changes during a planned shutdown.
Digitalization is technology to collect, store, analyze and use data to the benefit of customers.Ömer Oydaşik, Head of Siemens Cement
How do you ensure the security of the data?
Ömer Oydaşik: You’ve touched on an important point, as industrial security services are now more important with IIoT and data transfers. The data and communication structure in a plant needs to be made secure, which is why we help clients improve their plant’s security from an IT point of view. Our scope covers general IT topics as well as industrial automation and process control systems.
A number of cement companies have several locations across the globe. What potential do digital solutions offer in these cases?
Ömer Oydaşik: The topic here is digital transparency, which is a key issue for a lot of our customers – not just for companies with plants in different countries, but also for local players with several plants. The basic need is to understand what is going on in different plants and to maintain complete control from one location.
Therefore, we have created digital architecture to get the necessary data, for example from automation systems, transfer data, performance figures, or asset management. With this enterprise data in hand, management obtains a clear picture of aspects from key data, for example energy consumption and production volumes, and thereby gains control of the complete value chain.
How far along is the cement industry in this respect?
Ömer Oydaşik: We have started several pilot projects with cement customers. In the end, digitalization is technology to collect, store, analyze and use data to the benefit of customers. But that can only be done by close collaboration. Our approach is to sit together with our customers, discuss their challenges, and offer tailored-made solutions based on digitalization that brings benefit to their operations.
What possibilities do you see for digitalization in the future?
Ömer Oydaşik: The market is changing regionally differently. In developed countries, overcapacity is a reality. Cement manufacturers in these parts of the world need to optimize their costs: digitalization gives them more transparency for more efficiency. When the time comes for modernization, automation simplifies the process and doesn’t require huge engineering investments. In other parts of the world, modern greenfield plants are being built.
In places like Africa for example, there is a need for technology because of the difficulties associated with finding skilled personnel to operate plants. There’s even the possibility of central control rooms to monitor and operate different cement plants in different locations. Cemat is key in these efforts, because its basic topography enables the establishment of remote control. As you can see, digitization is playing a crucial role everywhere, and the future will bring many more exciting opportunities here.
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