Cemtech Europe 2012

Published 05 November 2012

Tagged Under: event Cemtech Europe Geneva 


Cemtech Europe 2012 was held in Geneva, Switzerland, for the first time, on 23-26 September. More than 250 delegates assembled at the Intercontinental Hotel to hear the latest market trends and a wide variety of technical presentations on cement-related topics. On the final day attendees were also invited to take part in either a technical workshop or a tour of Holcim’s Eclépens plant.

Cemtech Europe 2012 welcomed delegates to Geneva, Switzerland, for its 21st anniversary conference,

which offered an insight into the most up-to-date technological advances and the latest cement industry trends

After a welcome reception and dinner on the Sunday, the full programme of events began on Monday, 24 September with Cemtech conference organiser Thomas Armstrong’s opening remarks on the European cement sector. He reminded everyone that this year’s event was Cemtech’s 21st anniversary since the first meeting held in Prague in 1991. Conference chairman Keith Hall, Trident Engineering Services, wasted no time in getting the meeting underway.

Market analysis

Delegates listen to an incisive analysis of economic trends

prevailing in Europe and are offered possible future scenarios

Yuri Serov, Morgan Stanley & Co International analyst, was first to take the stage with a comprehensive overview of the global cement industry, current trends and future outlook. He recalled that cement consumption in the last decade has doubled and tripled in China, increasing by more than 80 per cent in other emerging markets while dropping 30 per cent on developed markets. Although China’s consumption appears to be reaching its peak, nearly half of the emerging markets outside of China have a per capita consumption of less than 200kg.

In contrast, Yuri explained that the developed markets of western Europe and North America would see little growth in cement consumption beyond recovery to previous levels unless immigration and population patterns change.

India and MENA are seen as areas of expected growth although India has experienced a downturn of late. Indonesia has plenty of structural room for growth but economic risks lurk largely as, being the largest exporter in Asia, it is exposed to falling commodity prices, a deficit in its current account and a weaker currency with higher interest rates.

However, Yuri said the outlook for cement producers is becoming more promising as global capacity utilisation improves and firmer prices are set to continue.

A regular Cemtech speaker, Jean-Christophe Lefèvre Moulenq of CM-CIC Securities, then explored whether Europe’s cement groups are being relegated to the back seat as the region’s cement sector now only accounts for 10 per cent of world cement consumption.

While stressing that further market decline in Europe is foreseen in 2012-13, Jean-Christophe pointed out that cement makers are facing a new landscape with constraints. Asia now accounts for 74 per cent of cement demand, while world cement production has topped 3590Mt. Most European countries are in structural recession as they readjust to the harsh macroeconomic situation and he believes it is unrealistic to expect markets to quickly return to pre-crisis levels of economic growth.

Cement majors have been hit hardest by the crisis, he argued, and need to scale back their ambitions, deleverage and protect prices. Therefore, they are being forced to give up their leading positions. We are seeing the rise of Camargo Corrêa (InterCement) and Eurocement in Europe as predators. Consolidation among producers in Italy and Spain is also expected. HeidelbergCement could be the major mover if it can gain a strategic tie-up with Italcementi and its subsidiary Çiments Français.

Turkish investments

The last presentation before the morning coffee break was given by Çaglan Becan, training and evaluations manager of the Turkish Cement Manufacturers Association, who discussed the evolution of the Turkish cement market. The country now has 48 integrated cement works and 20 grinding plants, making it the fourth-largest producer in the world with a production of 67.8Mta. The domestic market makes up 55.7Mt of cement sales, while some 12Mt are exported. However, exports have declined from a high of 16.5Mt in 2009 and are likely to shrink to 6.8Mt by 2016.

Caglan Becan of the Turkish Cement Manufacturers' Association

discussed the evolution of the domestic cement market

Çaglan said Turkish cement consumption is forecast to reach 58.5Mt by the end of the year with cement sales growing 4-5 per cent YoY. Domestic capacity is still likely to rise to 89.6Mt by 2015 from its current base of 65.1Mt. Housing, energy, dams, motorways and infrastructure are the driving forces behind the increases in Turkish cement demand.

Investments into the industry are set to continue. Some €2bn is required for the cement industry to conform to the EU Industrial Pollution Prevention Directive. Further investments will include better integration of alternative fuel and the use of expert systems to control mill and kiln operations.

Russian dry-process trend

After highlighting the current Russian market and production base, Stanislav Aksenov, CMPro, offered more details on the modernisation of the country’s cement industry. It is forecast that by 2020 around 65 per cent of Russia’s predicted 110Mt of production capacity will be over 30 years old.  Unless producers invest to replace outdated wet-process plants with modern, dry-process facilities, this will come at a significant penalty for the industry. Currently, wet-process cement costs US$80/t whereas dry-process cement is about US$60/t to produce.

However, Russia’s cement producers are addressing the issue. Between 2012-15 some 23.3Mta of new cement capacity is planned to come on-stream, including eight brownfield lines and six greenfield plants.

Plant reports

Focussing on individual plants, attention now moved to Gorazdze Cement and its decision to install Europe’s biggest ball mill during the joint presentation by Wieslaw Adamczyk of Gorazdze Cement and Erich Pichlmaier of Christian Pfeiffer.

After previous modernisations in 2003 and 2011, the aim of the new mill was to increase capacity by a further 1.2Mta as well as to provide a more flexible and efficient milling system. The plant decided on a new Gebr Pfeiffer ball mill installation with a third generation, high-efficiency separator and fluid bed slag dryer.

Accordingly, The biggest ball mill in Europe with a Monobloc diaphragm is now installed at the Gorazdze cement plant with the first compartment measuring 5.75m and the second 11m in length.

Stelios Sycopetrides continued talks on new plant installations with an overview of the construction and commissioning of Vassiliko Cement works’ new 6600tpd line in Cyprus. In 2008, the domestic cement market reached its peak at just under 2Mt and after its merger with Cyprus Cement, Vassiliko Cement decided to increase plant capacity. 

The new kiln line was a CBMI turnkey project to replace five existing lines. The project included a raw mill and feeding system, a two-string, five-stage preheater kiln with an IKN clinker cooler and chlorine by-pass, plus a 200tph cement grinding system. Following the production of first clinker in February 2011, the line was handed over to Vassiliko Cement in July 2011.

Although by 2012 Cypriot cement demand fell to 0.75Mt, Vassiliko’s new line enables the company to actively seek export sales.

Sustainable practices

Corporate sustainability strategies of the global majors were subsequently in the spotlight as Jim O’Brien of CSR Consulting commented on the 17 CSR reports published in 2011 by Cement Sustainability Initiative members of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development.

Jim said that the scope of reporting was widening each year. Thermal efficiency values of the best performers are now below 3000MJ/t of clinker, while significant progress is being made on reducing the net CO2/t of clinker produced with a downward trend of 0.7 per cent YoY. New guidelines for mercury, VOCs, dioxins and furans will also start in 2015.

Water usage and recycling is now being reported, while quarry rehabilitation and biodiversity have become central to cement producers’ planning. Health and safety remains a significant black mark for the industry with 39 employee, 99 contractor and 74 third-party fatalities in 2011.

Tony Whitten, Fauna & Flora International, underlined that while cement producers were rehabilitating quarries and providing wildlife habitats for larger animal and plant species there was no evidence of their efforts in protecting the biodiversity of small insects and bugs. These cave-dwelling creatures often inhabit unique sites, characterised by lack of light and to live in such areas, these animals have made extreme adaptations. The destruction of these habitats by quarrying and blasting is eliminating species such as beetles and spiders.

Tony asked the question whether cement companies need to do more to prevent global extinctions? Today, a ‘High Conservation Value’ approach should be adopted and consultants can be hired to carry out biodiversity risk assessments and species evaluations in caves.

Jean-Marc Ritzenthaler, Cement Engineering SA, explored raw material management and quarry optimisation starting with the ‘3M principle’ of ‘material, market and money’. He looked at the structure and stratigraphy of raw material deposits in the ground and how samples have to be correlated to give the bigger picture. Better understanding of the strata beds through geological mapping can result in fewer drill holes and hence significant cost savings. Jean-Marc then spoke about 3D geological modelling and drawing up an inventory for all chemical elements and scheduling of correctives. This all makes it easier to decide when correctives will need to be added to the raw mix and defines the quarry in terms of output quantity and quality.

Mill, gear and fly ash performance

Steve McGarel began the day’s final session with an overview of the Loesche LM Master for vertical roller mill (VRM) optimisation. He considered that the VRM also has specific requirements such as, increased production, smaller product size and reduced specific power consumption while various factors limit its ability to achieve these goals.

Steve highlighted the limitations of the Proportional Integral Derivative (PID) loop control method to monitor mill performance and demonstrated how LM Master adds model predictive control (MPC) for greater mill optimisation. MPC stabilises optimum performance using a controller matrix of various operational variables. There are up to 70 variables in a mill circuit but the optimiser in the LM Master only requires a sub-set of variables for more efficient mill control.

Martin Bächler, FLSmidth Maag Gear, spoke next on his company’s successful product range and recent case studies on refurbishment of a 37-year, two-stage, planetary gear unit operating on a ball mill at Holcim Untervaz, Switzerland, and a bevel planetary gear unit for a vertical roller mill at Rabigh Cement, Saudi Arabia.

Cemtech Geneva also offered opportunities for delegates to meet with international equpment suppliers

and build new commercial relationships at its concurrent exhibition

Jorg Schrabback, Sika, closed proceedings on the first day as he showed how obstacles to using fly ash in cement can be overcome. Fly ash enables producers to lower their clinker factor while producing more cement, cutting CO2 emissions and increasing the content of supplementary cementitious materials. Fly ash content in CEM II products is now between 20-35 per cent and in CEM IV and V blended cement products its content can be as high as 50-55 per cent.

Jorg looked at how the SikaGrind range of grinding aids can aid particle dispersion during the grinding process. He also detailed improved production levels with grinding aids and higher compressive strength, along with additives to reduce carbon bleeding and improve slump life.

In the future, cement producers may consider how to enhance fly ash quality with Ash Improvement Technology to further lower the clinker factor of blended cements.

Pyroprocessing projects

The second conference day started with Mahmut Selekoglu of Adana Çimento San TAS (Oyak Group), revealing the results of ABB’s optimizer technology at the Adana plant, Turkey. The benefits of ABB’s product have been evidenced in energy savings, a production increase, a lower standard deviation, improved product quality, fewer shutdowns and lower refractory and maintenance costs.

IKN's Frank Lichomski explained the benefits of efficient cooler operation on pyroline performance

The impact of efficient cooler leverages on pyroline performance was the title of Frank Lichomski’s IKN presentation featuring Bartin Çimento of Turkey. IKN worked with Bilim Makina from January 2010 on the 3000tpd clinker line, which included a six-stage (low under pressure cyclone) preheater with inline KKN-AS calciner, a Pendulum kiln with Coanda nozzles, a three-roll roller crusher, multichannel burner and ID fan. Construction began in September 2011 and operations started in June 2012. The new line replaced the last wet-process kiln with a dry-process kiln with a rated output of 3226tpd, heat consumption of 701kcal/kg clinker and power consumption of 12.5kWh/t clinker.

Christian Helmreich, Greco Combustion Systems gave an overview of alternative fuel combustion in main burners. He detailed the characteristics of solid alternative fuels, studied the effects of inefficient burning and highlighted Greco’s burners including the Flexiflame high momentum burner.

Alternative fuels and bypass dust

Neville Roberts presented Cemex’s approach to alternative fuels. The company has already achieved a 25 per cent alternative fuel rate in its cement facilities in 2011 and is now offering competitive alternative solid fuel supply and technical assistance to other cement producers. Cemex seeks low-carbon content derived mainly from commercial and industrial waste sources with a heat content of 15MJ/kg or above for its SRF material.

The group target is to increase alternative fuel substitution to 35 per cent by 2015 and the case studies of South Ferriby, UK, and Chelm, Poland, are examples of how successful Cemex has been at raising substitution levels. Through the company Transenergy, Cemex now looks to trade SRF along with coal and petcoke.

Yildiray Yildiz, Aslan Çimento (Oyak Group), updated the audience on his company’s alternative fuel usage in Turkey. Aslan investigated the industrial waste market thoroughly to build a resource recovery capability. This has enabled it to burn 50,000tpa of solid refuse fuels through a €4m project to equip the factory with two kiln burners, extra equipment and civil works.

Benoit Galichet, Holcim Slovakia, concluded the morning session with an outline of the ReduDust bypass system developed by Holcim and A TEC. The system produces a lime hydrate filter cake and crystalised mixture of salt contained in brine as final products. The filter cake is reintroduced to the cement mill with its low, less than one per cent, chlorine content. Salts make up a valuable byproduct that can be used as fertiliser. Meanwhile, intermediate products that do not leave the process include a dry limestone slurry and heavy metal sludge. A pilot plant has been set up at A TEC’s technical centre in Villach, Austria and the first RedDust plant will be commissioned in 4Q13.

Cement shipping and trade

Ad Ligthart of Cement Distribution Consultants and author of

the forthcoming ICR Handbook on Global Cement Trade and

Distribution, unravelled European cement trade distribution

Ad Ligthart, Cement Distribution Consultants, unravelled European cement trade distribution after the lunch break. Total estimated seaborne cement and clinker exports reached 23.7Mt in 2011 of which 12.3Mt was imported, leaving 11.4Mt exported outside the continent. Ad reported that total waterborne domestic distribution in Europe is about 17.9Mt and the total transportation is about 41.9Mt.

The European cement trade scene is well established with 66 cement plants involved in waterborne trade, 58 grinding facilities receive slag or clinker by water and there are 247 cement terminals. Ad completed his talk by focussing on economical mechanisms, logistical issues and technology in the market.

Dry bulk freight market and cement trading news was delivered by Joel Grau of Clarksons. He noted the continuing downward trend for the Baltic Dry Index in 2012 and that oversupply and softening demand would remain to be a market feature. Cement constitutes just 2.4 per cent of the dry bulk seaborne trade, but makes up six per cent of trade in smaller ships.

The dry bulk fleet peaked in 2011 and the order book is for 154.5Mt or 23 per cent of the fleet. Most owners are trying to delay orders into 2013-14 and demand for cement exports has dropped. A record number of vessels have been scrapped in 2012, some 360 between January and August alone. Scrapping of the handymax segment is likely to remain high with 30 per cent relating to vessels over 25 years of age. Demand for dry bulk commodities is expected to slow with growth at 4.1 per cent in 2012.

Simon Purchon, Babcock International Group, discussed the optimisation of mobile assets and fleet performance in the cement industry. Simon detailed the asset management objectives of increasing vehicle availability, centralised control and control efficiencies. He then showed Babcock’s Alcamie asset lifecycle programme which has achieved increased fleet availability, machine performance management, supplier management, procurement leverage and fleet optimisation for Lafarge Cement UK and is now being applied to the company’s North American vehicle fleet.

Bags and cannons

Johannes Ebert and Jeff Kolde gave a joint presentation of WL Gore’s pollution control technology to reduce NOx, particulate matter (PM) and mercury emissions.

Filter bag lifetime is shortened mainly by wear of fibreglass backing material and seam failure. Lab tests also prove that filtration efficiency decreases when seams are added. In addition, they showed that seams have different efficiencies and can be sealed to avoid efficiency loss.

To reduce NOx by 90 per cent and PM emissions to <1mg/NM3, WL Gore has produced its Gore DeNOx filter medium. For mercury emissions, the company has piloted tests on a new sorbent polymer composite material for high mercury capture in a fixed-bed system as an alternative to sorbent injection.

Claus Ohlmeyer, Haver & Boecker, reported on the Haver Adams® process for tight bag filling. The weather-proof PE bag has had great success in the building materials sector and has been strongly marketed in the UK. Delegates were also informed of the recent group acquisition of Newtec Palletizing and the launch of the Haver SpeedFlexx® automatic truck loading product as the group looks to further innovate its product range.

Jeff Shelton brought the conference to a conclusion with the last presentation on Martin Engineering’s air cannon technology. Jeff explained how producers could make large savings by protecting their air cannons and selecting the correct nozzles for the task.

Gala Dinner

Proceedings culminated in the Gala Dinner held at the InterContinental Hotel. Having enjoyed a superb four-course meal, the delegates heard farewell speeches from Keith Hall and Thomas Armstrong, and enjoyed music, a magic show and dance entertainers as the evening drew to a close.

The Cemtech team would like to thank all those who participated in this year’s event.

Article first published in International Cement Review, November 2012.