With a challenging geographical location in the Himachal Pradesh mountains of India, Jaiprakash Associates’ Baga plant called in the help of Cachapuz Bilanciai Group to optimise its dispatching facilities. By automating the main dispatch processes with SLV Cement software and automation modules, the cement producer was able to significantly improve its truck movements.
Following the successful implementation of the SLV Cement dispatching and logistics flow control package at the Jaypee Rewa Plant, Cachapuz Bilanciai Group together with the local partner String Automation Pvt Ltd was asked by Jaiprakash Associates Ltd (part of the Jaypee Group) to consider a project at the company's Baga works. The aim was to improve the clinker dispatching and raw materials reception processes to optimise the plant’s dispatching capabilities.
However, this project presented a number of challenges. After a site visit to study the processes concerned and the main requirements, Cachapuz/String Automation realised that some of the main issues faced by the plant were related to its geographical location. The works is located in the Himachal Pradesh mountains in the northern region of India. With limited space and rough terrain, few and narrow roads to access the plant and a no truck parking zone. As such, trucks have to wait on the side of the road before they can access the plant premises, delaying the efficient turnaround of dispatches. Hence, finding a way to dispatch trucks in a quicker and more organised manner would yield a number of advantages, including:
- Improvement of inbound/outbound processes
- Avoidance of bottlenecks and accidents
- Reduced manual operations and human error.
During the plant visit, Cachapuz/String analysed on-site operations and was able to verify that were several areas, processes and bureaucratic procedures for each loading/unloading operation that take place inside and outside the plant. These procedures required resources (time and manpower), caused delays and were prone to errors because they consisted of numerous manual interventions and inputs.
Moreover, the Baga plant managed its data and processes via several nonintegrated systems, some of which were manual. This caused interruptions to operations and did not allow for a centralised consultation and analysis of the existing information.
Therefore, the new system needed to offer a more integrated approach and the connection between SLV Cement and SAP ERP was seen as essential to creating an integrated and vertical solution for the Baga plant.
The SLV Cement solution
Based on the above project challenges and requirements, Cachapuz – in partnership with String Automation and with the full cooperation and support of the Jaypee Baga and Rewa plants and JIL Information Technology Ltd (JILIT), the IT arm of the Jaypee Group, was able to solve the problems identified and to improve plant logistics.
SLV Cement was customised to meet the needs of the Baga works, providing the necessary software and hardware modules for the complete automation of its functional areas: clinker loading silo, weighing zones (for raw materials weighing), dispatch office and check-in house and associated processes (check-in, gate-in, weight-in, clinker loading, raw materials unloading, weight-out, checkout, gate-out and SAP integration). The solution offered consists of:
- SLV Cement software framework (webbased) with SAP ERP integration
- One digital signage information kiosk (with 42’’ LCD screen) installed in the dispatch office
- One check-out kiosk (with colour touch screen and RFID card/tag reader) installed outside the dispatch office
- Two SLV Cement weighing kiosks (with colour touchscreen, RFID card/tag reader and collector and thermal kiosk printer), two positioning sensors and four traffic lights installed in the two weighbridges used for raw materials trucks self-service weighing
- Five SLV Cement clinker loading kiosks and three large size information panels (with full visibility at 150m) installed in the clinker silo (five loading lines with one weighbridge in each loading zone).
For this project, Cachapuz installed the latest version of SLV Cement software modules, with a web-based environment as front-end for users. This new version was configured on top of the scalable, dynamic and modular Software Framework developed by the Cachapuz Engineering and Innovation Department and shared by other SLV Platform based solutions offered globally by Cachapuz. The webbased system offers many advantages compared to the previous desktop based release, as it is installed centrally in the local server at the plant, avoiding the need to install or upgrade any software on local user machines. SLV Cement users will only require a computer with a standard browser and a network access to logon to the system, which can be from anywhere at the plant or remotely from office or home. With the same look and feel of a standard desktop software application, the user can perform all the daily tasks for the clinker dispatch, raw materials reception and also business analysis and reporting.
The integration with the ERP of the customer is always one of the most important parts of any SLV Cement installation, including the Baga project. For this particular project, Cachapuz/String were able to count on the full support from Jaypee Rewa and JILIT IT SAP teams, which already had developed a crucial role in the implementation of SLV Cement for the Jaypee Group at the first Rewa works. For the Baga project, this previous experience and know-how, together with the full support and understanding of the Baga dispatching processes from the plant’s resident IT team, was leveraged to complete and stabilise this component of the project in the shortest time.
SLV Cement was integrated with SAP ERP so that the master data and planned operations can be synchronised to SLV Cement (products, customers, vehicles, etc) and the result of each loading and unloading operation (date and time, tare, gross and net weight, etc) can be synchronised to SAP ERP. Most of these processes are performed by SLV Cement automatically and in online mode by using the integration modules, which are synchronised and use standard technologies for heterogeneous systems integration: web services and RFC.
Additionally, the operators can obtain master data and planned operations manually using SLV Cement front-end modules, reading from SAP the necessary data to complete the check-in of the truck drivers. The operator validates the documentation from the driver, registers the check-in operation in SLV Cement, associates an RFID tag to the operation and delivers it to the driver. The driver uses the RFID tag to indentify himself in each zone of the plant and in each process, like the self-service weighing and loading processes. By using the RFID tag for identification purposes, the need of repetitive validation of documents by the operators in all the zones is avoided and the time to complete the operations is reduced.
All the methods and functions necessary for the integration between SAP and SLV Cement were developed in SAP with the support of JILIT headquarters and the collaboration between all the teams involved played an important role in the success of this new Indian project.
Before the installation of SLV Cement, all weighing operations were performed manually by the operators by manually obtaining the weighing data from the weighing indicator connected to the computer. With SLV Cement, the weighing operations are performed in self-service mode by drivers inside the truck and without the intervention of an operator in the plant.
This functionality was achieved by installing SLV Cement Weighing Kiosks, which are activated by the RFID tags and have a multimedia touchscreen to lead the driver through the simple weighing process, presenting Multilanguage messages (English and Hindu in this case), images and video. In each entrance/exit of the weighbridge sensors were installed to assure that the truck is well positioned on the weighbridge before acquiring any weighing data, avoiding errors and fraud. Traffic lights inform the drivers about the availability of the weighbridges and the status of the operation.
To improve the weighing process, all the weighing indicators installed in the entrance, exit and clinker loading weighbridges are connected to an SLV Cement Weighing Interface Box, which allows SLV Cement to obtain remotely the weighing data from any indicator over the Ethernet Protocol (LAN), without the need of local computers connected directly to the indicators. Additionally and for contingent manual operations, the operators in the plant can use a PC and log-on to SLV Cement to read weighing data from any weighing indicator.
In the clinker loading silos three large information panels are installed to automatically call the trucks to load, as well as five SLV cement clinker loading kiosks, which allow the tare and gross weights of the operation to be obtained directly in the silos weighbridges. These kiosks are designed to be used by the operators in the silo, who can access all necessary information about the loading operation, including the truck licence plate, transporter name and requested amount, by presenting the RFID tag delivered to the driver. If all the weighing conditions are met, SLV Cement automatically registers the tare weight and synchronises this information with SAP (weight-in operation). The operator can then start the loading operation, monitoring the net and gross weights directly on the multimedia touchscreen display of the kiosk.
At present, the loading operation is controlled manually by the operator, but these kiosks are ready to be upgraded and connected to the loading automation system of the spout, allowing SLV Cement to automatically control the loading operation and accurately load the correct amount of clinker, based on the requested amount on the loading memo. After the loading operation, the net and gross weights are automatically synchronised to SAP (weight-out operation) and the driver can exit the loading silo and collect the prepared documentation from the dispatch office.
An SLV Cement digital signage kiosk was installed in the dispatch office, providing useful information for clinker loading monitoring. This module can be applied in several areas such as maintenance and control rooms, truck drivers’ waiting rooms and office, and, due to the flexibility and configurable features offered, can be used for different purposes depending on the project and customer requirements. The SLV Cement digital signage kiosk and its 42’’ LCD screen can be configured with different types of information in various formats such as charts, tables, web pages, IP cameras monitoring or videos and can automatically refresh its contents at preconfigured intervals.
In the Baga project, this kiosk was installed in the dispatch office to allow the monitoring of the clinker silo loading operations and also the performance of the dispatch processes. The users sitting in the office are able to see the progress of each loading and weighing operation by seeing in real-time the front-end of all the kiosks installed in the five loading lines. The users can also see the messages presented to the operators/truck drivers, the amount of clinker being loaded, the transporter name, the loading memo information, among other important data.
Because of the flexibility of the software front-end, the kiosks can be mounted in “landscape” or “portrait” position and the type and number of different panels displayed can be changed as necessary. In this case, besides the monitoring of the five loading lines, the kiosks were configured to display a chart with the number of trucks dispatched per hour during the current day and also a table with the list of the pending operations (with the check-in and loading memo stages completed).
SLV Cement offers several key benefits to the Baga works:
- RFID access control and identification
- Self-service and unmanned weighing operations with a reduction of 2-3 minutes per truck
- Automated clinker dispatching and raw materials reception 24/7
- Reduction of manpower, human error and fraud (18 operators were removed from the weighing zones)
- Improvement of safety and security on the plant
- Improved logistics and control on the inbound/outbound processes
- Better organisation of truck movement
- Reduction of turnaround time to complete the loading and unloading operations
- Increase of the number of trucks dispatched per hour (up by 5-10 trucks on average)
- Improved quality of the service for customers, suppliers and transporters
- Check-in, gate-in and loading memo (in case of clinker dispatching processes) operations carried out in a single step, directly in SLV Cement
- Weight-out, check-out and gate-out processes carried out in a single step, directly in SLV Cement
- Elimination of parallel and non-integrated systems
- Well-oriented and business focussed software front-ends
- Web-based SLV Cement front-ends with authorization and authentication security features
- Detailed and comprehensive business analysis, KPI and reporting for control of the operations and decision making
- Integration with SAP ERP
- Possibility to automate other processes and areas in the future, due to the scalability and modularity of SLV Cement solution (like automatic cement counting, weighing and dispatching)
- Remote support to the system.
According to BK Sharma, plant joint president, and Praveen Chander Sharma of the EDP Section: “The SLV Cement implementation at JHCP, Baga has boosted the movements of trucks involved in different process of the plant (clinker dispatches and raw materials reception).”
Raw materials & clinker dispatch The improvements achieved in the processes automated by SLV Cement are particularly in the areas of raw materials handling and the clinker dispatch. According to Jaype Baga officers, in the case of raw materials there has been a reduction in the number of processes required as now: “Check-in and Gatein is done in a single step through SLV Cement” and “Weight-out, Check-out and Gate-out is a single operation by showing the RFID tag to SLV Cement Kiosk, which was previously done in 2-3 process.” The weighing operations are now performed in self-service mode, which has allowed “time saving at weighing operations because weight of vehicle is done instantly by just showing the RFID tag to SLV Cement Kiosk”.
Regarding clinker dispatches, Jaypee Baga officers state that: “after the implementation of SLV Cement, the clinker dispatch has been improved from what we were doing previously, by SAP, by doing many processes like Check-in, Gate-in, Loading Memo in a single step through SLV Cement for clinker. Checkout and Gate-out are also done instantly by just showing the RFID tag to the SLV Cement Kiosk for clinker”. In this case it was also possible to save time in the weighing operations and “there is an overall reduction in total TAT [turnaround time].”
Other major improvements have been achieved in the plant, namely: “the involvement of human interference has been reduced drastically and hence causing less chances of error being caused of some miscommunication. After SLV system were installed at weighbridges we are saving 2-3 minutes per truck on the weighbridge while loading of clinker and also in various weighing operations. The total number of trucks dispatched has also been increased between five and 10 trucks per hour. Because of SLV Cement, we have reduced the number of operators sitting on weighing systems. By seeing overall system now we can say we freed some 18 operators. Also the public announcement system previously involved for the weighing operations has been removed in SLV Cement.”
By using SLV Cement, the plant can now dispatch more than 1000 trucks on the busiest days. This allows it to leverage its clinker production capacity and dispatching capabilities. For customers, transporters and suppliers, the advanced organisation and safety features translate into an improved service quality.