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Innovations in online analyser use – part one

World Cement,


Online elemental analysers have become a fairly common component of the cement raw material control process throughout the last 25 years. Many plants rely heavily on analysers for quarry control/stockpile optimisation and/or raw mix proportioning, and many plants actually have two to accomplish both goals.

One of the plants with two online elemental analysers is the Suwannee American Cement plant in Branford, Florida, in the US. Its use of the analysers is in some ways quite conventional, but in other ways the plant has used its ingenuity to go beyond the norm. The plant has developed its own user interface for the loader operators in the quarry, to ensure that the raw materials going onto the stockpile will meet specification. This is one of the few plants that relies on online analysers to address SO3 variations in the quarry as well as the more traditional need for LSF control. In addition, the plant has integrated the real-time analyser composition information into its plant database system for easy access to, and optimal use of, the data provided.

About the plant

In operation since March 2003, Suwannee American Cement (SAC) was Votorantim Cimentos’ second venture in North America – in 2001, it had purchased St. Marys Cement in the Great Lakes region, kicking off its internationalisation process. Votorantim owns a 50% share of Suwannee. The other 50% belongs to Anderson Columbia, a civil engineering company that allied itself with Votorantim to have a partner in the field of cement production.

The Branford plant was the first Votorantim Cementos business to win triple certification. Within 18 months of commencing operations, the plant received ISO 9001 (Quality) and 14001 (Environmental) certification, and OHSAS 18001 (Safety) certification. These certifications provide the tools for SAC to be the best and set the standards for quality, safety and environmental responsibility in the Florida market. The Branford facility was designed with the preservation of natural resources as a principal factor. In addition, the plant has an emission rate for pollutants that is among the lowest in the US and is constantly monitored by technologically advanced pollution control devices.

The Branford plant is a dry process plant with an annual cement capacity of nearly 1 million t, producing types I/II, III and JHS cement, sold primarily within Florida. The plant uses the attached quarry for the bulk of its raw material needs. When reclaimed from the limestone pile, it mixes with three other components: sand, fly ash and mill scale.

This is part one of a three-part article written for World Cement’s May issue and abridged for the website. Subscribers can read the full May issue by signing in, and can also catch up on-the-go via our new app for Apple and Android. Non-subscribers can access a preview of the April 2016 issue here.

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