ICR Cement Industry Awards 2019 “Recognising excellence and promoting best practice”

Published 10 October 2019


Cement Project of the Year – CEMEX, Mexico, with Petuum, USA

Company representatives

Rodrigo Quintero, Operations Digital Technologies Manager, CEMEX (Mexico) and Prabal Acharyya, Petuum (USA).

Company description

CEMEX is one of the world’s leading manufacturers of cement, ready-mixed concrete and aggregates, supplying more than 50 countries. Petuum develops artificial intelligence (AI) technology designed to help companies on their journey towards Industry 4.0 with autonomous operations.

Project description

CEMEX’s decision to install Petuum’s AI technology forms part of CEMEX’s digital transformation, designed to improve operational efficiency, lower energy costs and enable better use of alternative fuels. Petuum’s data-driven approach to digitise and optimise cement plant operations resulted in yield improvements and energy savings of up to seven per cent, reducing emissions and ensuring the plant continuously meets its operational and sustainability goals.

1. How the Petuum AI-pilot product works

Petuum’s AI-pilot software as a service product ingests historical and real-time streaming data from the cement plant’s network. This data is then leveraged into expert-built ML/DL algorithms to deliver precise predictions of the plant’s operational variables, up to 15 minutes into the future. It does this by understanding the dynamic and non-linear relationships between the variables, and prescribing optimal set points to enable the plant to reach its operational goals.

Petuum’s AI-pilot also offers an Supervised-steer option. Without Supervised-steer, the predictions are validated by an operator before the set points are updated. With Supervised-steer turned on, the set points are directly fed into the plant’s control system for a fully autonomous operation.

The self-learning capabilities of Petuum’s AI-pilot product means it is constantly collecting and processing data to continuously improve the results as it gains a better understanding of the plant and its processes.

2. Where is Petuum Industrial AI-pilot installed?

Petuum AI-pilot was initially installed at one CEMEX site in the USA and two in Mexico. In the 4Q19 it will also be rolled out to three additional sites in its Europe, SCAC and AMEA regions.

"Petuum Industrial AI-pilot is a giant step for the Industry 4.0 revolution. We are proud that we were able to partner with CEMEX to bring this revolutionary technology to the cement industry. We look forward to continuing the collaborative partnership with CEMEX and AI journey with the entire cement industry." – Prabal Acharyya, AVP of Industrial AI, Petuum.

3. Benefits of Petuum's Industrial AI-pilot

By helping to lower emissions, increase stability and reduce downtime, Petuum’s AI-pilot can have a significant impact on a producer’s bottom line. 

Key benefits include:

  • Stabilising the operation by reducing the standard deviation for kiln amps, burning zone temperature, feed and fuel rate, undergrate pressure, undergrate speed and energy recovery for secondary and tertiary air
  • Lower specific heat consumption
  • Increased alternative fuel substitution
  • Lower primary emissions while maximising production rates
  • Higher energy recovery of secondary/tertiary air temperature by 2-5 per cent
  • Reduced clinker temperature.

4. Results so far

CEMEX has seen a 2-5 per cent saving in energy costs and an over two per cent higher overall yield. This translated to yield and energy improvements of 2-7 per cent when AI-pilot Supervised-steer was turned on.

The AI-pilot has already helped to reduce emissions of gases such as NOx, SOx and heavy metals, mercury and lead, by efficiently recuperating heat from the cooler to the kiln and precalciner, thereby reducing the need to burn additional fuels. Petuum Industrial AI-pilot also increased the ratio of alternative fuels to petcoke, while optimising the pyro operation.

"We are extremely happy and honored to receive this prestigious award. Our goal was to obtain predictable, repeatable golden days of operation where the best operators could achieve their golden day repeated every day throughout the year – to have yield, high quality at low cost. With Petuum Industrial AI-pilot, we are seeing this become a reality, and it is just the beginning of a great journey with Artificial Intelligence in cement." – Rodrigo J Quintero, Operations Digital Technologies Manager, CEMEX.