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LafargeHolcim launches ‘Plants of Tomorrow’

Published by , Editorial Assistant
World Cement,

LafargeHolcim has upgraded its production fleet for the future. Targeting a global network of over 270 integrated cement plants and grinding stations in more than 50 countries, the company will utilise automation technologies and robotics, artificial intelligence, predictive maintenance, and digital twin technologies for its entire production process. This four year programme makes the ‘Plants of Tomorrow’ initiative one of the largest roll outs of Industry 4.0 in the building materials industry.

A Plants of Tomorrow certified operation will show between 15% and 20% of operational efficiency gains compared to a conventional cement plant. LafargeHolcim is presently working on more than 30 pilot projects covering all regions where the company is active. The company’s Siggenthal, Switzerland, integrated cement plant will be the lighthouse where the integration of relevant modules will be tested for the global Plants of Tomorrow initiative.

Among the technologies implemented are predictive operations that can detect abnormal conditions and process anomalies in real-time. This will reduce maintenance costs by more than 10% and significantly lower energy costs. Digital twins of plants are created to optimise training opportunities.

Automation and robotics is another important element of the strategy. Unmanned surveillance will be performed for high exposure jobs in the entire plant. Partnering with Swiss startup Flyability, the company is using drones that allow the frequency of inspections to increase, while simultaneously reducing cost and increasing safety for employees by inspecting confined spaces. The concept is now being rolled out to several markets, including Switzerland, France, Germany, the UK, the US, Canada, India, and Russia.

In addition, the new PACT (Performance and Collaboration) digital tool allows operational decision making from experience-based to data-centric by combining data from various sources and enabling machine learning applications.

“Transforming the way we produce cement is one of the focus areas of our digitalisation strategy and the ‘Plants of Tomorrow’ initiative will turn Industry 4.0 into reality at our plants,” said Solomon Baumgartner Aviles, Global Head of Cement Manufacturing at LafargeHolcim. “These innovative solutions will make cement production safer, more efficient, and environmentally fit. We are moving to fully data-driven operations in order to support further profitable growth as part of our Strategy 2022 – ‘Building for Growth’.”

Open innovation

LH MAQER, the company’s new platform to identify the most impactful technologies and target startup technology companies, also aims to establish new partnership models with both manufacturing and software companies.

“Our global manufacturing expertise in cement is second to none,” said Philipp Leutiger, Chief Digital Officer. “Now, with our LH MAQER platform, we open up our operating model to the creativity and ingenuity of some of the world’s most gifted and talented digital minds. We are already seeing the success of this approach in many of our operations globally.”

Improving performance

LafargeHolcim has already launched technology to track performance centrally and allocated resources to support the plant network in real time. More than 80% of LafargeHolcim’s cement plants are already connected to its Technical Information System that provides data transparency at plant, country, regional, and global level. Some country operations have more than a decade of historic technical data available. Other systems allow the remote control of certain parts of the operations through online condition monitoring systems. Since its implementation in 2006, this system alone allowed for CHF80 million in savings and an additional 3 million t of cement sold through fewer breakdowns.

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LafargeHolcim news European cement news Cement news 2018