Cement plants are constantly in optimization mode: in sold-out markets, production output must be maximized, while in saturated markets production costs must be minimized. Tighter environmental regulations are forcing us to permanently reduce emissions and customers’ increasing quality standards limit the degree of freedom in production. Because market situations and requirements are constantly changing, I have not yet seen any cement plant that does not have optimization/customization on its to-do list.
If, in a most generalized point of view, one understands the fulfillment of the totality of demands on a cement plant as its performance, then this understanding goes far beyond the conventional understanding of plant performance which usually refers to its mere production output. In general, the performance of a cement production plant depends on the plant technology and equipment, the raw and fuel feedstock material, as well as the operating and maintenance personnel. As generalistic as this statement is, as widespread are the starting points for any process optimization and also the difficulties in their implementation. Not least, the human component is not to be ignored, with permanent optimization ultimately requiring the continuous willingness to question the existing solutions again and again and to seek the better which is the enemy of the good. This is uncomfortable and exhausting – but also worthwhile!
In order to increase your appetite for continuous optimization and to show you what is possible, I will from now on share ideas and thoughts with you in each edition of the ZKG on the topic: “How do you get the best performance out of your cement works?”. Not that I wouldn’t know that there are meter-long bookshelves of literature on this – but we would like to offer here a condensed continued column, which takes up these questions from several points of views and puts them into perspective also with respect to difficulties, obstacles and resistances.
We are looking forward to deliver some condensed comments and hopefully thought-provoking information every month in this column – so stay interested.