Cement Plant of the Year – ICR Cement Industry Awards 2019

Published 10 October 2019

Cement Plant of the Year – Yanbu Cement Co, Saudi Arabia

Company representatives

Dr Ahmed Zugail, CEO and Amr Ahmed Nader, Strategic Planning & Performance Management, Advisor to the CEO, Yanbu Cement Company (Saudi Arabia).

Company description

Established in 1979, Yanbu Cement Company (YCC) is a leading cement manufacturer in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia with a total installed capacity of 7Mta of clinker and 10Mta of cement.

Project description

YCC has undertaken a series of strategic investments and optimisation initiatives to radically modernise its 10Mta capacity plant in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The plant’s management have successfully adopted state-of-the-art technology and advanced cement manufacturing techniques including installing waste heat recovery systems, multi-fuel burner and expert process controls. Meanwhile, the company has achieved a 25 per cent reduction in net carbon emissions and annual savings of 0.5Mta CO2.

1. Elimination of high-energy intensity production lines and capacity upgrade

In 2017 YCC demolished three obsolete lines, offsetting capacity losses by boosting capacity of the remaining Line 4 to 9000tpd (12.5 per cent increase) and Line 5 to 12,000tpd (15 per cent increase).

2. Multi-burner retrofit to enable production of high specification clinkers for export

YCC made a strategic decision to produce high-quality clinker for local and export markets, and suitable for the production of OPC 52.5R cement, with C3S above 60 (+/-2), and target free lime of 1.5 (+/-0.5). To achieve this, the company retrofitted new multi-fuel burners with advanced flame shape control to manage the burning conditions in the kiln due to the high LSF kiln feed, which had increased from 96.5 per cent to 99 per cent, due to MgO reduction.

3. Digital transformation to improve plant reporting and achieve higher operational performance

YCC installed ABB’s knowledge manager transformation to improve visualisation and analysis of plant data, including a new centralised control system for the plant’s Lines 4 and 5. The upgrade enables automatic reporting, improved tracking of plant operational parameters and stop-log reports. In addition, YCC installed an expert process control system (PXP), with model predictive control, for the plant’s raw meal and cement ball mills, increasing operational stability, including improved control of multiple inputs, and enabling higher productivity.

4. 1Mt carbon reduction in two years

Clinker substitution, energy savings and waste heat recovery enabled YCC to achieve a 25 per cent reduction of net carbon emissions per tonne of cement in 2019, compared to 2016 baseline, and 1Mt of CO2 reduction in two years.

YCC undertook to reach an average 12 per cent clinker substitution across its cement products, achieving one of the lowest regional replacement rates, and saving an estimated 706,90tpa of CO2. Energy savings of three per cent, combined with the installation of a waste heat recovery system, supplying 34 per cent of the annual power requirement, have contributed a further 384,096tpa/CO2.

The programme lowered specific energy consumption and saw a CO2 reduction of 1Mt over two years, with a target of doubling this achievement by 2020.

5. Operational excellence  

An operational excellence programme (2016-2019) combined with the above initiatives resulted in a five per cent reduction in plant running costs and a 15 per cent increase in plant productivity (equivalent to US$20m savings). These gains were achieved in spite of the shift in production away from medium-quality clinkers (C3S  <56) with very high specific heat consumption (SHC) of >850kcal/kg, to premium quality clinkers (C3S ≈ 60) with greatly improved overall SHC <800kcal/kg. The plant is now working towards the world-class standard benchmark of 750kcal/kg.

The operational excellence methodology was driven by a structured programme of auditing, analysis and action plan, focussed on improvements to the following main bottlenecks: cooler efficiency, bypass management, draft management, CRO development, raw mill productivity and burner efficiency.

"Yanbu Cement Co is honoured to be awarded “Cement Plant of the Year”. The award came as a recognition for three years of successful transformation. Since 2016, Yanbu Cement has been dedicated towards excellence, aiming to improve company’s competitive edge and cement its contribution to the industry as a valued regional leader," said the company.