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Growth prognoses based on a number of what-ifs as well as the need to adhere to stricter and stricter regulations: the cement industry is again at a crossroad. The introduction of Cemat V9.0 is a good omen for a stable future.
It’s basically everywhere and almost always under our feet: concrete. In the last 20 years, the market has been chugging along quite well with a growth rate of close to 6 percent per year. Most of that growth came from China. However, as the Chinese market slows down, it is unclear where growth will be coming from going forward. India and Turkey show potential, as do a number of countries in Africa and South-East Asia. The United States may also be another growth market, provided that the much-talked-about infrastructure renewal program takes off.
In any case, global cement production is set to fall back with expected annual growth rates of 2 to 4 percent. The new “normal” for quite some time to come, say analysts. At the same time, cement producers are being called on to lower their CO2 emissions. Just these two developments alone have cement producers looking for higher productivity and greater flexibility, improved resource and asset utilization, lower costs and simpler processes, enhanced safety and security, and improved decision support. Can answers be found in digitalization?
“Yes, definitely,” is the answer from Thomas Walther, vice president of Siemens Minerals. At the heart of all digitalization tools for the cement industry is end-to-end automation, as supplied by Siemens’ process automation system Cemat. Yet Cemat, which is based on Simatic PCS 7, has a long history of making life easier for cement operators. “For over 40 years, Cemat has been helping the cement industry deal with its challenges,” says Walther. What is special about the automation platform is that it covers horizontal needs, from the crusher to dispatch, as well as vertical needs, from field devices to the management level. Since its inception, Cemat has been a frontrunner – and with the newest update, it is holding on to that status.
Cemat V9.0 is the latest version, and it includes an array of new functions across the entire cement production chain. “A highlight is definitely scalable recipe and storage location management,” says Walther. This highly sophisticated functionality has been integrated into the base process control system. No further hardware or software components are necessary, which makes asset management much easier. Processes are more efficient as a result.
Other new features include an expansion of the sequence test mode: After switching to “Sequence test” in the system plan, all field signals of an object can be simulated in the operating system runtime mode. Operators also benefit from new pictograms, which support one-step operation. Plus, the pictograms can be scaled proportionally and displayed on an instance-specific basis. Cemat V9.0 now includes a definition of maintenance intervals for analog and binary signal modules. Furthermore, performed maintenance work can be logged and evaluated. The list continues with extended warning or fault information on motor start-up, as well as integrated scalable production control (SPC).
SPC allows parameters to be saved, imported, exported and/or switched over, if required. The parameter characteristics are depicted in each case by different SPC module types, which can be freely connected to each other depending on the quality structure and requirements. A central SPC manager module forms the interface for the plant operator. A possibility, for example, is to include the flexible assignment of material to different storage locations in the project engineering process.
A hallmark of digitalization is interconnectedness – from components in a single cement plant all the way to connections between different plants. Cemat V9.0 can naturally manage all that. With the new version, it is taking a further step with integration of the cement process simulation and training simulator SIMULEX® from KHD. This training simulator was developed together with the association of German cement manufacturers (Verein Deutscher Zementwerke – VDZ) about 20 years ago. Today SIMULEX offers a realistic emulation of process behavior of a cement plant from raw material preparation via the pyro-process to cement grinding. A portfolio of customer-specific cement applications is available, for example, for the roller-press, or for vertical and ball mills.
The advantage of the interconnection between SIMULEX and Cemat is that the client can benefit from realistic cement process training with the existing plant configuration, and a full simulation of the controller level and operator faceplates. In short, simulated plant operation is an exact reflection of a real control center. The trainee has the same operation elements as the operator, including faceplates, alarms and messages. No relearning is necessary after training. And most important, there is no risk to product quality, equipment, personnel or production.
The improvements to Cemat are helping the proven solution from Siemens to answer challenges facing cement operators. No matter which direction growth takes or how strict regulations become, Cemat is an es––sential tool to improve resource and asset utilization, and for better decisions. Come what may: plants equipped with Cemat are in line to profit from digitalization.
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