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Editorial comment

Innovation is something we like to celebrate here at World Cement. Each issue is packed with the latest technical and engineering developments that are moving the cement industry forward – making it more efficient, cleaner and safer. This issue is no different: take the articles in our regional report from Loesche and Gebr. Pfeiffer, which look at the adoption of the latest milling technology in Southeast Asia.

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Southeast Asia has, over the past few decades become an important region for cement manufacture – and thus equipment supply. As Loesche’s Gerhard Salewski notes: “economic development and a steadily increasing population have led to growing cement demand in the region. In order to keep up with this demand and maintain efficiency, cement producers have invested in innovative solutions.” This “appetite for innovation”, as Salewski goes on to call it, has a key part to play in helping the industry meet the challenges it currently faces. And that is true not just in Southeast Asia, but around the world. Yet there are some trends within the industry that are threatening this appetite. As Mark Mutter and Lawrie Evans of JAMCEM Consulting write in our keynote this month, the process of engineering standardisation at large multinational cement companies can stifle the creativity of local plant engineers.

Although standardisation has been a key strategy adopted by cement companies to counter an industry-wide reduction in engineering resources, Mutter and Evans argue that: “it is essential that this standardisation does not result in a lack of thinking on the cement plant by the engineers.” They conclude that returning some level of local engineering autonomy would “bring back some real engineering thinking into an industry that is already struggling to find the next generations of good process engineers.” That ultimately benefits the bottom line, as plants are able to optimise not only to company and industry best practice, but also to a plant’s unique local conditions.

To this end, a recent news story from Titan USA caught my eye. In January, the company reported that its Pennsuco Complex – which hosts a cement plant, quarrying and aggregates production, block manufacturing and ready-mixed concrete operations – had been certified as a Gold Level Zero Waste Facility. This makes the facility the first of its kind in the US to achieve Zero Waste Status.

“Going through the Zero Waste certification process took us to a new level; it inspired us to discover new and innovative opportunities for recycling and reuse,” said Audrey Fullton, Pennsuco’s Environmental Engineer, who was behind the project. “Rather than automatically sending things to the landfill, each waste stream is now an opportunity to achieve highest and best use.” With recertification required every three years, Fullton already has her eyes on Platinum Certification. And this is not just her vision: she has company management behind her with Randy Dunlap, President of Titan America’s Florida Business Unit, calling the Zero Waste Certification a “remarkable achievement” and supporting Fullton’s desire to reach the next level.

Part of our role here at World Cement is to highlight such innovation – whether in the areas of plant and process optimisation, environmental protection or health and safety. So don’t be shy: if you have a project or technology to highlight, drop me a line and let me know – and let’s keep the industry moving forward.