“Stop and go”: Cachapuz gets Secil Outão going
Since the early 90’s Secil and the Cachapuz Bilanciai Group have maintained a strong partnership. The relationship started with the implementation of the SLV Cement solution to improve the dispatching operations at Secil's cement plants in Portugal. The SLV Cement solution was first implemented at the Maceira-Liz and Cibra-Pataias cement plants to automate bulk cement loading. This enabled the loading operations to be performed entirely in self-service mode by the truck drivers. Secil rapidly recognized the potential of the solution. The first installation was expanded to automate other business areas at the company, as well as the remaining Secil plants in Portugal by the 2000. By 2007, Trofa, Viana do Castelo, Aveiro and Leixões sales depots also had the system installed and the automation of the Pocinho sales depot with SLV Cement is currently under evaluation. This long term relationship between Secil and Cachapuz Bilanciai Group recently resulted in the automation of a new dispatching area at the Secil Outão cement plant, with SLV Cement system, which was implemented at the beginning of 2010.
Secil was founded in 1930 and is today one of Portugal’s leading cement producers. With an annual output of circa 4 million tons of cement, it meets more than 35% of the country’s demand for cement. Although cement production is its core business, Secil is part of around 40 companies operating in complementary areas such as concrete, prefabricated concrete products, hydraulic lime, plasters, claddings, fiberboard, and others, as well as quarrying. Internationally, Secil has a presence in Tunisia, where it is the majority shareholder in the cement company Société des Ciments de Gabès, in Angola, with a 51% stake in Secil Lobito, the firm operates a cement plant in Lobito and is also the majority shareholder in the Lebanese company, Ciment de Sibline, located south of Beirut. In the early 90’s, Cachapuz Bilanciai Group installed the first version of SLV Cement at Secil’ Maceira-Liz and Cibra-Pataias cement plants, which included the installation of bulked cement loading terminals to automate the loading operations in the cement silos. The loading operations were performed directly by the truck drivers in self-service mode. With intuitive controlling buttons, the drivers begin the operation, operate the loading spout, start loading the planned amount of bulked cement and stop the operation with security and without the intervention of cement plant operators. This was a revolutionary system in those days and at the same time a success for the cement industry. This combination led Cachapuz to automate other areas in the plant and to implement the solution in all Portuguese based plants.
At the end of 2009, reinforcing the confidence in SLV Cement, Secil awarded Cachapuz Bilanciai Group a new order to upgrade the SLV Cement installation at the Outão cement plant. The first SLV Cement installation at Secil Outão consisted of the automation of two entrance and exit zones, the bulk loading zone and the unloading zone. The first entrance, exit and weighing zone included one entry weighbridge, one exit weighbridge, a two-way weighbridge (for weighing trucks in the two directions, entrance and exit) as well as an exit zone without weighbridge (used for trucks that performed the second weighing of the operation in the internal weighbridges). The second access zone included one weighbridge for both entrance and exit operations. Each truck driver uses an RFID card for identification purposes, which identifies the customer, the truck and the loading / unloading operation. The RFID cards are used in the SLV Cement interface kiosks and the system controls all the accesses, authorizing or denying the operations. The SLV Cement solution was also implemented in the loading zones where it controls four bulk loading silos and the loading operations performed in self-service mode by the truck drivers. SLV Cement monitors each loading operation, assuring that only the planned amount is loaded into the trucks. In the raw materials unloading zone the SLV Cement was implemented to automate one weighbridge that is used both for the second weight of the unloading operation and for the first weighing of loading operations, allowing the same truck to perform two operations (unloading and loading) without the need to exit the plant. SLV Cement was integrated with Secil’s Information Service to synchronize loading, unloading and weighing data between the systems. This has enabled the self-service mode of the operations and creating an integrated solution for the customer. The new order to upgrade SLV Cement at Secil Outão included the automation of two new weighbridges at the second entrance and exit, as well as in the weighing zone of the plant. The first weighbridge is dedicated to entrance operations and the second one for exit operations. In this new area, Cachapuz installed three new SLV Cement Kiosks with corresponding control barriers and positioning sensors for access control, weighing, expedition and document printing. The SLV Cement core was also upgraded, including more features and functionalities required by the customer.
Before the SLV Cement implementation, the plant offered only two weighbridges for all the trucks, one for entering the plant and other for exiting the plant. With the SLV Cement installation completed, the plant benefits from additional entrance and exit zones that improve the flow of the trucks. All the raw material unloading operations and the cement loading operations are performed in self-service mode and controlled by using RFID cards, avoiding the need for paperwork and time consuming tasks previously made by the dispatch operators, which required that truck drivers park and exit the truck and walk on foot to the dispatch zone.
The implementation of this new phase of SLV Cement at the Secil Outão plant was finished in January 2010, reinforcing the long term partnership between the two companies. According to Secil: “…the gradual introduction of automatic loading and control equipment at plants and depots has allowed for increasingly meaningful time savings in the collection and transport of cement to construction sites.”
One of Cachapuz’ main solutions is SLV Cement, which is an innovative system focused on cement manufacturing plants that provides the complete automation of the main functional areas: parking management, weighing operations, dispatching, entry/exit gates, bulked cement loading, bagged cement loading, raw materials unloading and business analysis. The solution integrates seamlessly with the client’s ERP in online/offline mode (like SAP for instance), assuring the cement expedition and information registry 24/7 even in case of communication failure between the two systems. SLV Cement is a dispatching and logistics flow control solution that automates all the processes from the truck’s arrival at the cement plant to the cement expedition, automatically printing all the necessary documentation at the end of the process. Aside from improving the logistic processes in the cement plant, SLV Cement guarantees all the information exchange between the logistic and commercial departments, automatically and efficiently, complementing the customer’s management software (ERP), creating a vertical solution, adapted to each cement factory. Due to its modularity and scalability, SLV Cement allows the integration of innumerous and optional components of hardware, that may be adapted to the demands and needs of the customer like traffic lights, barriers, positioning sensors, information panels, LCD screens. SLV Cement self-service kiosks may also be customized, among others, with the following components: touch screen (color or black and white), printer (thermal or laser), RFID reader, card/tag collector, intercom, traffic lights, pushbuttons, etc.
At the software level, SLV Cement modules register information for every event occurred during the process, from the truck’s arrival at the parking zone, to the exit of the plant after the operation is completed. This information is tagged with timestamps that allow the extraction of detailed process reports from the system. All collected information is processed and aggregated in detailed reports, which are available to consult by authorized system users and that can be analyzed from several perspectives.
Besides all the active and explicit data exploration performed by the different users through all the available SLV Cement analysis tools, SLV Cement pro-active features deliver automatic alerts and reports to the right system users by e-mail or SMS, accelerating the reactions to those business data. All the information processed and made available by SLV Cement assists the decision makers to analyze the performance of the different processes in their facilities and check for bottlenecks within the dispatching processes, carrying out corrective measures to solve them and optimize the cement plant.
All software and hardware provided is robust and heavily tested to assure correct performance at all times. Each piece of hardware offered in the solution is obtained through extensive market procurement, trialing and testing of several brands and models until the best possible solution is selected. These tasks are granted by Cachapuz Bilanciai Group permanent Research and Development team, assuring that SLV Cement is a state-of-the-art solution that the customer can rely on.
The number of companies that rely on SLV Cement for the cement dispatching and raw materials reception is growing worldwide. SLV Cement was implemented in all the Portuguese based plants of Secil (Maceira-Liz, Cibra-Pataias, Outão cement plants and also Trofa, Viana do Castelo, Aveiro and Leixões sales depots), Cimpor (Alhandra, Souselas, and Loulé cement plants), Cimentos Madeira, Cimentaçor and Cimentos Europa. With these implementations Cachapuz to achieved 100% market share on this business area in Portugal and started the internationalization process, which lead Cachapuz to implement SLV Cement in other countries.
In Spain, SLV Cement was implemented in Cementos Balboa in Alconera zone (Badajoz). In South Africa and Tunisia, Cachapuz has implemented an SLV Cement subset in Cimpor quarries to manage the entrance, exit and weighing processes with SAP integration. In Egypt, in Alexandria, Amreyah Cimpor Cement Company is taking advantage of SLV Cement to manage all the dispatching operations (in which around 800 trucks are automatically dispatched every day, with peaks of 1200 trucks per day). Last year the solution was implemented in Angola, in the new cement plant of Nova Cimangola. At the beginning of 2010, Cachapuz enters the Indian Market through the Jaypee Group (Jaiprakash Associates Limited) and is currently implementing SLV Cement in Jaypee Rewa Plant.
Cachapuz Bilanciai Group
Cachapuz is engaged in innovative and highly technological solutions in the industrial weighing and dispatching areas. Cachapuz is a Portuguese company that belongs to Bilanciai Group, one of the world’s biggest industrial weighing groups with representation in more than 30 countries worldwide. The company counts on specialists with decades of experience in the development and implementation of automated solutions in cement plants, quarries, grain terminals, maritime ports, power plants, waste management sites, among others. With a modular and scalable software and hardware platform, together with the expertise, Cachapuz is able to meet the needs of a wide range of business areas worldwide, with proven results.