Cement Your Profits with Kiln Optimization

Cement Your Profits with Kiln Optimization

When the Great Recession hit manufacturers in 2009, the cement industry was particularly impacted, resulting in a five-year low in growth.

Consequently, new construction projects slowed and many cement companies focused on optimizing operation of existing assets.

Today, signs of recovery are visible, and analysts are forecasting that global demand for cement production will grow at a CAGR of over 9% through 2020.

Now, as growth becomes an option again for many companies, we can take our experience with kiln optimization and apply it to new kiln construction projects along with brownfield plants looking for more.

The Old Way

Traditionally, many cement plants have relied on either expert systems, or PID control for kiln optimization. Both have become dated technologies that struggle to show information holistically and can only provide information about current conditions.

PID controls operate with a single variable in and a single variable out. Disturbances are reacted to, and cannot be predicted. And, expert systems require a lot of maintenance or operator oversight to function properly. We’ve learned that there’s a better way.

Model Predictive Control (MPC)

MPC is a modern control strategy based on a holistic view of key process variables and their interdependencies: multivariable in and multivariable out. It has the capability to compensate for process delays, disturbances, interactions and non-linearity.

With MPC technology, you can achieve a complete view of the full life of clinker production by putting in place dynamic predictive models. Monitoring and controlling production like this can significantly increase kiln stability, overall production rate, and reduce material losses as well as energy costs per ton of final product. Furthermore, real-time visibility of production and energy metrics compared to a baseline promotes a performance-driven culture.

MPC is like having your best operator on the job, 24/7, predictably handling your constraints.

Benefits of MPC:

  • Feed rate can be increased
  • Throughput and process conditions are more accurately monitored and controlled, reducing upsets and improving process stability
  • Energy usage from primary fuels can be reduced; inexpensive fuels can be maximized
  • Clinker quality and consistency can be better controlled

How MPC Works

MPC technology is highly adaptable, which means it can be made to fit all types of kilns, with all types of operating parameters, including stable trade-off of multiple fuels, coordinated integration of precalcining, kiln and cooler or air, fuel and feed. 

A MPC application that uses library-based content can be readily configured to meet individual and specific operational objectives. Rockwell Automation offers a pyroprocessing control application, specifically designed for kiln control and optimization.

This takes advantage of MPC technology to predict and control multiple process parameters in real time. It acts at a very high frequency for efficient and accurate calculation of controller setpoints and predicts internal process and quality parameters.

Control actions are continually updated based on actual process values, while plant constraints are taken into account to meet throughput, energy and clinker specification objectives.

When considering improving performance in your kiln, taking advantage of MPC technology will help you cement in your profits through challenging markets, as well as more favorable conditions. That may mean maximizing on-spec production today and minimizing energy costs per Ton and clinker quality in years to come.

Want to learn more about MPC and our pyroprocessing application for the cement industry?

Mike Tay
Posted August 9, 2017 By Mike Tay, Product Manager, Rockwell Automation
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