Leading cement manufacturer Holcim Philippines has started to harness advance technology as part of its regular maintenance program in plants and manufacturing sites.
The sight of a drone hovering inside a 31-foot silo of Holcim plant in Bacnotan, La Union is a regular activity at the facility. The drone inspects the facility allowing the operator to take notes of maintenance actions to be taken.
“Digitalization is a key part of our innovation and sustainability direction to further make operations safer, more efficient and respectful of the environment. We have already realized a number of gains from these initiatives and excited to accelerate our transition to digitalizing our plants to better serve customers and ultimately deliver excellent business results,” said Holcim Philippines president and CEO Horia Adrian.
Using drones for regular and periodic maintenance has eliminated health and safety risks from having people conduct visual inspections in remote spaces. The drone also allows for higher frequency of checks and reduces equipment downtimes required for such inspections.
The use of drones is one of several digitalization initiatives that leading building solutions provider Holcim Philippines has undertaken. The company has accelerated these efforts as part of its innovation drive to raise business, safety and environmental performance to further improve efficiency and safety of manufacturing operations.
In 2022, Holcim Philippines implemented over 70 projects to raise manufacturing performance through automation technologies under the Holcim Group’s Plants of Tomorrow program. Focused on automating production processes and predictive maintenance, the Philippine projects are designed to generate optimization gains and savings.
A key initiative is the use of artificial intelligence for data-driven decision-making in operations. Already, sensors have been installed in key equipment to provide operators real-time data to guide them in keeping these running within parameters. Stable operations in turn improves plant production and ability to utilize low-carbon alternative while also reducing equipment wear and tear.
Holcim Philippines is also following the same approach in maintaining facilities with a software that projects the state of equipment for 90-day periods based on data provided by sensors. The information is critical in helping the company plan maintenance activities and conduct early intervention to prevent operational disruptions.
The company is currently deploying predictive tools in ensuring product quality with a software that projects the strength development of its cement for different time periods. This enables the company to make adjustments on its products faster instead of waiting for several days to implement tweaks.
Holcim Philippines is also using digitalization to simplify daily meetings with a software that consolidates information from different areas of operations. This removes the need to open numerous applications and preparation of reports allowing plant personnel to focus on implementing actions.
Holcim Philippines senior vice president for cement industrial performance Eung Rae Kim acknowledged the people behind the digitalization initiative.
“Upon seeing the benefits for the plants and the simplification of their job, our people immediately embraced this shift and are actively looking for ways to apply digitalization in other areas,” he said.
The company also uses its drones for material surveying of storage facilities instead of having people conduct more costly and time-consuming physical audits. The quick adoption of digital tools in other areas of operations shows the company’s growing ease with its digitalization transition.
Already, Holcim Philippines is exploring the of use predictive technologies to improve reliability and efficiency of operations and consumption of resources. While the company is still at the early stages of its digitalization journey, it is confidently moving towards making its plants ready to face the challenges of tomorrow.