Holcim puts Morocco at the head of its smart plant roll-out

Holcim puts Morocco at the head of its smart plant roll-out
01 July 2022

This week Holcim Maroc inaugurated its 1.6Mta Agadir-Souss cement plant in Morocco and with its AI technology and wind-powered energy supply from 2023, it is expected to set new standards for modern smart cement plants.

The Agadir-Souss plant is at the forefront of smart plant development. It is located in Taroudant, 45km southwest of Agadir and represents an investment of MAD3bn (US$334.6m). Equipped with Holcim’s ‘Plant of Tomorrow’ (PoT) technology, the facility includes robotic lab automation, predictive maintenance and Industry 4.0 technology. Thyssenkrupp Industrial Solutions won the EPC contract in 2018 to engineer, build and equip the plant. As the project was being implemented during the COVID-19 pandemic, it has understandably seen a two-year delay before being inaugurated.

The main components include a 1000tph primary crusher, a longitudinal additives storage facility, a circular stockpile with a storage capacity of 12,000t, a QUADROPOL QMR² roller mill with an output of 290tph and a blending silo of 4600t. The kiln system consists of a five-stage, single-string polysius preheater tower, a two-pier rotary kiln and a POLYTRACK clinker cooler. The line is completed by a ball mill and a 65,000t clinker silo. The plant will use alternative fuels to reduce energy costs and CO2 emissions, and will have digital-twin capability for optimisation. The performance and collaboration (PACT) digital tool enables decision-making from data-centric driven information and experiences leading to machine learning applications.

“The decision was made to set up the factory in Taroudant in order to support the development of the Souss-Massa region and the southern provinces which are experiencing great socio-economic growth. This factory comes to support the development of these regions. While the assembly was completely ensured by Moroccan skills who honoured their commitments,” said Abderrazak Gharib, director of the project.

Holcim has not skimped on its economic, social and governance (ESG) responsibilities for the project, having built local facilities for clean drinking water, with three water towers for neighbouring villages as well as a pumping system driven by solar power. A new 8km road has been built to bypass the town of Tidsi and a second 3km road provides new access to Tidsi from the new plant. Four schools have also been equipped and rehabilitated in the area for 700 children. 

Moroccan cement market
Holcim’s investment reinforces its position in the domestic sector while demonstrating confidence in the country’s future development. Demand remains solid, having bounced back by from a sharp 10 per cent contraction in 2020, expanding by 14.6 per cent last year. In 2022, the market has seen a deceleration of 3.1 per cent over the first five months of the year, due to the high base effect, but is expected to see positive overall growth by the year end.

The north African market has become a stronghold for Holcim with just over 15Mta of grey cement production in Morocco. It operates a total of four grinding plants and seven integrated cement plants in the country, including one white cement line. By introducing the PoT technology in Africa at an early stage Holcim is confirming that Africa will not be behind the curve in having smart cement production. Africa is among the leading locations as greenfield plants are still being constructed in the region on a regular annual basis. 

The PoT concept combines the power of digital and process innovations to lower CO2 emissions while optimising energy efficiency and embedding plants within the circular economy with provision for water and other natural resources. The programme is predicted to bring 15-20 per cent operational efficiency gains to the Holcim group at it attempts to deliver the concept to its global cement plant network in just four years, following initial trials at the Siggenthal cement plant in Switzerland.

Published under Cement News