The Alpacem Group’s digitalization offensive has been in full swing over the past five years. During this period, more than € 5 million have been invested in innovative plant and environmental technology at the individual sites in Austria, Slovenia and Italy. Today, drones buzz through the air in the quarries, thousands of process data run from one point to the next within milliseconds in production, and data glasses create virtual worlds of technology before the eyes of the employees.
But anyone who thinks that individual employees have become less important in the face of the power of state-of-the-art technology is mistaken: “Today, we are more dependent than ever on the expertise of our employees. With the advance of digitization, it is becoming very clear that any machine is only as good as the person who operates it,” explains Lutz Weber, Alpacem’s Managing Director for Technology, Human Resources and Purchasing.
Seeing through thanks to data goggles
A key challenge for the internationally active Alpacem Group is the cross-border availability of expertise. In order to have the right specialist at hand for every occasion, the group of companies has been using special data glasses for maintenance and technical interventions since 2020. With the help of a new technology from Ubimax, specialists can see from a distance, as if with their own eyes, what actions the technician is performing on site. “The use of data glasses en-ables us to solve technical problems in record time and also brings CO2 savings through reduced travel by specialists,” explains Weber.
New opportunities in mining
Digitization in the cement industry does not just start in production, but already during the extraction of raw materials. Where previously mainly total stations and laser equipment were used for surveying, Alpacem now uses drones at its quarries in Wietersdorf and Peggau in Austria and Anhovo in Slovenia. This approach results in a variety of benefits, such as more accurate blast planning in mining through precise analysis of 3D models. In addition to more accurate and therefore more sustainable mine planning, inspection flights are also possible to locations that were previously extremely difficult for the company’s employees to reach.
Digital logistics saves travel time and CO2
In logistics, too, Alpacem relies on intelligent technology to make the transport of cement and concrete more efficient and thus more environmentally friendly. All trucks are directly connected to the dispatching system via GPS. After a delivery order is released, the system automatically determines the loading point and a suitable vehicle. The required delivery information is immediately forwarded to the driver. The system then evaluates all movement data to identify further optimization potential. This reduces costs, fuel and waiting times at the same time.
Digitization enables quality enhancement and resource conservation
For large-scale projects, the Alpacem Group relies on its transnational structures. This means that new technologies can be tested at one site and then rolled out to the entire Group as an example of best practice. This is also the case with the fully automated process control system, which was first implemented at the Slovenian plant in Anhovo and has also been used at the Wietersdorf site in Carinthia since 2019. This independently collects over 40000 material samples per year, which are then closely examined by robots in the laboratory. This enables employees at the control station to rectify even the smallest irregularities in real time. Beyond pure quality enhancement, process control also ensures optimum, i.e. careful, use of natural resources.