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Case Study: Cement manufacturer automated rugged crane installation

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article image High installation performance: automated Demag 9-t process crane and Demag warehouse management system

A warehouse management system and a process crane from Demag have been installed by a Belgian cement manufacturer to automate their raw material store.

The Belgian cement manufacturer CBR, a subsidiary of the HeidelbergCement Group automated the raw material store that it operates at its Lixhe location. The performance of the facility has been significantly increased by the installation of a Demag warehouse management system and a Demag process crane having a load capacity of 9 tonnes.

With the automation of the raw material store at its Lixhe plant, HeidelbergCement addressed three clear goals including increased productivity, sustainable improvement in process reliability and a higher level of occupational health and safety.

To meet these requirements, a fully automated crane was installed and a warehouse management system was implemented in the existing store. To modernise the store, the cement manufacturer decided in favour of a complete Demag system for the supply of the materials handling equipment and software control system.

Lutz Dowy, Vice President Sales and Product Management at Terex Material Handling explained that they modernised CBR’s Lixhe store with a strong solution based on rugged crane systems and smart control modules that will ensure a continuous material flow thanks to consistently high handling rates.

The Lixhe plant

One of the oldest locations operated by CBR, the Lixhe plant has an annual capacity of some 1.4 million tonnes of clinker and 1.5 million tonnes of cement, making it the largest cement works in the Benelux countries.

Besides the calcareous sand, which is quarried locally, three grades of coal as well as ferric oxide are kept in the raw material store at the plant. The storage area measures 86 x 24 m in size, has five compartments divided into eight storage zones, and is served by a bridge crane that can virtually reach any point in the store. This work was previously performed by a manually operated 9 t overhead travelling crane.

Rugged crane systems for continuous 24/7 operation  

An automated Demag double-girder overhead travelling crane equipped with a 3.2m³ powered clamshell grab is now used for handling the raw materials. The crane installation is primarily used for clearing the tipping pit and filling the chutes with the required blend of materials, which is ensured by crane weighing devices.

Key features of the Demag overhead travelling crane include a 24m span; load capacity of 9 tonnes; rugged and reliable crane components for continuous operation in the harsh environment; high speeds (long-travel motions at 100 m/min, load-dependent lifting motions up to 90 m/min); and integrated load-sway damping. 

Continuous measurement of fill levels by scanners

The blend and order in which the material is added is precisely defined by the Demag warehouse management system, which controls the feed schedule to the kilns and facilitates transparent inventory management. Scanner systems were installed on the crane to measure the height of the aggregates. The scanners fitted below the crane bridge continuously track the height contours of the stored bulk material each time the crane travels over it. 

The software in the crane control centre uses the information to determine a constantly updated height profile and visualises the fill levels in all storage areas, including the minimum and maximum values. In addition, the control centre shows the current status of the crane with all relevant status messages. Customer-specific storage strategies can be added via the user-friendly interface at any time.

An assessment conducted six months after the installation confirmed that the automation of the processes has enabled the plant to boost the efficiency of its raw material store. Key benefits include higher handling rates by the crane system, continuous operation without the need for any breaks, significant increase in the stability of the processes, and improved safety of the working environment for employees.

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