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Optimising energy efficiency – part three

World Cement,

Supported by VDZ’s strong scientific background in cement production, the comparison of assessment results is done against internationally accepted standards and VDZ’s data base. The scientifically based results of energy audits enable managers to prioritise investment strategies and release capital for other investments with higher profitability or urgency.

A highly motivated and trained workforce with the awareness of the impact of their daily tasks on the energy performance of the plant also promotes the reduction of energy consumption. For this reason training plays a pivotal role. A deeper knowledge of the cement production process can not only potentially reduce the energy consumption of the plant through more technically supported decisions, but can also make the implementation of strategies to enhance energy efficiency easier and more efficient. CCR operators and plant supervisors are two target groups of VDZ’s trainings due to the impact of their daily decisions and actions on the performance of the plant. Multi-disciplinary teams which incorporate process engineers and maintenance engineers, among others, can also be trained to lead internal energy audits and become the spearhead of the cement plant in the detection of energy saving potentials. Moreover, they not only play a central role in the company’s communication with external auditors, but also become the critical mass needed to comprehend, discuss and implement suggested improvement measures.

Every year VDZ audits several cement plants which have already implemented an energy management system in accordance with ISO 50001. This management system is considered a keystone of a structured, technically supported and well documented strategy towards energy efficiency optimisation. The auditing and certification of the energy management system is not only imperative for public recognition of the efforts conducted by companies towards sustainability, but also for the detection of failures and the improvement of the system itself.


The German cement industry is facing important challenges with regard to new regulatory constraints, as well as the energy efficiency of its manufacturing processes. The rise of the thermal substitution rate, as well as the compliance with new environmental protection measures, which will be imposed by new regulations in a very near future, will increase the energy demand of cement plants. Lowering the cement to clinker ratio presents the greatest energy reduction potential but depends on external factors, such as market demand and the availability of clinker substitute materials. Depending on the circumstances, the optimisation of the process without major changes to the production technology has an overall low impact as compared to lowering the cement to clinker ratio, but can still improve energy efficiency. The gain in energy efficiency again depends on the existing circumstances. While energy efficiency is already very high in the cement industry for cost reasons, the potential for improvement can be realised by the implementation of certified energy management systems, workforce training and the performance of energy audits.


  1. VDZ: Activity Report 2012-2015. Verein Deutscher Zementwerke, (2015).
  2. HOENIG, V. et al., ‘Energy efficiency in cement production, part 2,’ Cement International (4/2013).
  3. ‘Trying to look ahead’ (CSI-ECRA Technology Papers), European Cement Research Academy (ECRA); Development of State of the Art-Techniques in Cement Manufacturing (2009), published on:
  4. ‘Gaining through saving,’ International Energy Agency, IEA; Institute for Industrial Productivity, IIP; Energy Management Programmes for Industry (2012). HOENIG, V. et al., ‘Energy efficiency in cement production, part 1.,’ Cement International (3/2013).

This is part three of a three-part article written for World Cement’s April issue and abridged for the website. Subscribers can read the full 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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