Significant orders for QCX/RoboLab in the first half of 2007 continued the strong market trend in 2006 for FLSmidth Automation’s automated sample preparation & analysis solution. The cement industry thus remains highly confident of this well-proven automation product.
In 2006, the industry ordered an impressive number of 18 QCX/RoboLab systems. A total of some 50 QCX systems sold in 2006 confirmed the strong market leadership of FLSmidth Automation’s QCX line of products.
2006 saw both new and retrofit projects
13 of the robotics based systems ordered in 2006 were new projects that included complete packages of automated sampling, sample handling and sample preparation equipment as well as analyzers. Group company Pfaff AQS is supplying the sampling and preparation equipment for all these projects. The remaining five orders were retrofit projects, in which the software layers of the systems are being upgraded to the latest Windows 2003 version of the QCX software.
Saudi Arabia is top of the list for new projects with five systems ordered, including one double RoboLab cell for the gigantic Hofuf plant. Russia and Kazakhstan are significant newcomers to the market for automated laboratory systems. Meanwhile, Spain dominated the retrofit market with three software upgrade projects, two of which included additional automated combustion analysis.
QCX Product Manager Steen Tokkesdal Pedersen says: “We see a clear trend towards adding on the more complex preparation and analysis tasks. For example, among the projects sold in 2006 and the first half of 2007, eight included automated fusion and four automated combustion analysis. In the early days of robotics automation we and other suppliers typically automated the simpler tasks such as powder sample preparation. Now, customers are considering the automation potential of all tasks in their 24/7 production laboratories.”
Important milestones in 2007
The first half of 2007 saw a couple of important entries to the sales list. One is the QCX/RoboLab for Holcim’s St. Genevieve project in Missouri, USA, whose 12,000 tpd clinker production capacity makes it the world’s largest single production line. Another important milestone is India’s first QCX/RoboLab system ordered by Sagar Cement Ltd.
Director S. Sreekanth Reddy of Sagar Cement Ltd. commented: “We are looking for the best achievable quality of our lab operations to facilitate high product quality. QCX/RoboLab will bring us this, and the flexible robotics concept allows us to add more automation in the future. Another important reason for choosing QCX/RoboLab is FLSmidth Automation’s strong presence in India. Their skilled personnel from Chennai makes us confident that we are well looked after with fast local service.”
Market acceptance grows
FLSmidth Automation expects rising sales of QCX/RoboLab’s and other QCX products to the new lab automation markets both in Russia and other former Soviet Union countries and, particularly, in India. The growing acceptance of laboratory automation in these regions is a clear sign that the cement industry there increasingly tends to rank improved sampling quality and lab procedures higher or on a par with the potential for labour cost savings as a result of laboratory automation.