Real-time level monitoring with Nanolike and Holcim Greece

Today, it is still a problem to match concrete replenishment deliveries with customer demand. The process is done manually without any quantitative insight into the fill level of the silos. When a silo is estimated to approach a low fill level, new orders are placed over the phone based on existing customer orders. This can result in missed sales opportunities due to mismatches between production equipment and delivery terminals.

Holcim Greece saw great potential in automating these processes through the use of real-time data and sensors attached to the silos in a non-invasive way. With the help of the Holcim MAQER, the team in Greece launched a pilot project with French start-up Nanolike. Nanolike was founded in 2012 and focuses on supply chain optimization offering turnkey IoT solutions for real-time fill level monitoring of industrial silos. Together with Holcim Greece, the first successful KPIs were evaluated in October 2021 and currently, we evaluate the use of the technology in further plants.

Carbon capture, utilization & storage – The path towards zero emissions

Leveraging technology to create carbon-efficient sites across more than 270 sites is one of the key ambitions of the Plants of Tomorrow. To this end,  our teams are pioneering the use of Carbon Capture, Utilization and Sequestration technologies (CCU/S) for use at sites globally. Carbon Capture technologies concentrate CO2 with the aim of giving it a second life as fuel, chemicals, building material, or safely storing it in the ground.

To work towards a net zero industry, we’re spearheading a number of innovative projects that range from converting CO2 into synthetic fuel and chemicals, producing a food-grade CO2 and using CO2 in greenhouses. Equally, through collaboration with startups, we’re developing agile and innovative solutions to get a head start on tomorrow’s challenges.

We’re also multiplying our efforts to reduce Co2 emissions by partnering with other leading multinational companies. Addressing the CO2 challenge requires a consortium of government and industry peers. To this end, Holcim is committed to working with key stakeholders to reduce  emissions globally.

Interested in more information on this initiative? Then follow our Manufacturing Maqer Linkedin page for more insights!

CemQ – Real-time cement quality prediction

It is currently impossible to estimate cement strength with any certainty until its 2-day, 7-day and 28-day strengths are measured through physical tests. Plants tend to compensate for this by using a higher amount of costly, high-quality clinker and additives to ensure a high-performing product. Alternatively, they may grind the product more extensively, as the fineness of the cement is another factor in determining its final strength. These approaches offer no way of accounting for the multitude of other production process variables that can affect cement quality.

Predictive quality models use machine learning algorithms to correlate the quality of each production batch with the relevant production parameters while minimizing clinker factor.

This enables forecasting cement quality accurately in real-time at any point during the production process, reducing typical overspending of up to 15 percent in efforts to meet quality targets as well as achieving CO2 reductions and energy savings.

Interested in more information on this initiative? Then follow our Manufacturing Maqer Linkedin page for more insights!

PACT – Performance and collaboration tool

In cement factories, the several interlinked production steps are monitored by automated systems. They provide the production team with a large set of data that is then used to derive . required actions for an efficient operation. Up to now, data from different monitoring systems has been collected and processed manually. This made collaboration and exchange very difficult and led to a bias towards experience-driven decisions rather than concise data analysis. Another hurdle: each plant used different systems, and action management tools making direct comparisons of factories impossible.

PACT supports the plant teams to take better, data-based and more forward-thinking decisions, consistently achieve targets and spend less time in meetings and data crunching. This allows the teams to focus more on optimizing the processes and adapting in a flexible way to requirements from the markets.

PACT is the Holcim platform that combines all aspects of business with production, maintenance, quality, environment  as well as H&S data from plants worldwide. This data is used for data-based decision making, benchmarking, consistent action tracking and as basis for machine learning applications that scale globally, such as CemQ.

Statistical demand forecasting

For Holcim Switzerland forecasting is a central need in order to set up logistics & production processes in the right manner. A good planning has a direct impact on optimization and cost reduction.

The planning process as we know it from decades, rely on the information sales employees provide manually. Every over or under forecasting has a negative impact on our business. In order to increase forecast accuracy and reduce uncertainty, Statistical Demand Forecasting has been implemented.

The Statistical Demand Forecasting (SDF) is an integrated machine learning solution to support optimization and the planning process. The SDF is a forecasting process of making predictions of the future demand based on past and present data. As a main difference to the manual process, the SDF can provide weekly/monthly automated planning and includes parameter like net working days and weather forecast.

The pilot project has successfully proven that SDF provides a higher accuracy with lower manual effort. Today 5 cement plants make use of the SDF as a main data source for short term planning (weekly planning).

Improving Employee Experience | Leena AI

During the Covid-19 pandemic, many companies face the challenge to ensure the wellbeing of their employees, who work from home or have no access to digital solutions at all in the production lines. Independent from the crisis, many HR departments face the challenge that they need to handle repetitive issues, as e.g. employee questions regarding holidays or home office regulations. This offers great potential for an AI-powered HR assistant to engage with employees digitally and answer questions automatically.

That’s why Holcim Startup MAQER has kicked off a project with Leena.Ai, who offers an AI-powered virtual assistant that provides instant responses to employee queries and allows to communicate with users digitally. At the beginning of March when the Covid-19 outbreak had just started, Leena.Ai, Holcim México and Holcim Startup MAQER reacted quickly and set up a chatbot solution for employees working from home only within a few days. As a result, superior employee experience can be offered, while for the first time in the history of Holcim blue-collar employees can access HR services and communications from their home. Holcim has now rolled out Leena AI’s solution within 3 continents, from Latin America to Africa and Europe.

Drones – Save lives, Cost and Create Competitiveness for the Plants of Tomorrow

A recent report by Goldman Sachs predicts that the commercial sector represents the biggest growth opportunity for drone technologies. Investments of USD 13 billion are expected in the construction industry alone by 2022. While Cement Excellence Manufacturing has been following up on using drones in our industrial sites – from site inspections to surveys and stockpiling – we’ve only scratched the surface of what can be done with airborne drones and how this technology will change the way we work.

Drones bring a number of key benefits to Holcim. In the area of Safety, this solution safeguards our colleagues from having to enter confined or hard to reach spaces. Predictive maintenance is another key area where drones are making operations more efficient. With drones, inspections can occur at higher frequency and issues can be detected remotely through real-time imagery or non-destructive analysis before they arise. This saves time and money associated with costly repairs.

Finally, where mapping, surveillance and measurement of raw materials stored in the open and requiring blast design used to be costly, the use of drones has cut this spend to a fraction of earlier levels.

Interested in more information on this initiative? Then follow our Manufacturing Maqer Linkedin page for more insights!

Smart digital online control technology enables sites to expand their supply of alternative fuels.

Holcim’s team in Dotternhausen  experienced disruptions in the clinkerization  due to its high usage of paper sludge as an alternative fuel source.Partnering with an external supplier the team developed a digital online technology.

Based on Near-Infrared Spectroscopy, the digital online control technology analyzes alternative fuel properties during feeding and compensates quality variations real-time using the most economic fuel mix.

The solution not only contributes to more stable kiln operation and final product quality, but also to the circular economy pillar of the Plants of Tomorrow initiative and to reducing CO2 emissions.