Simulating the Logistic Processes by Cachapuz Bilanciai Group


The improvement of the dispatching and logistic processes within the cement plants and the analysis of all the related data can be achieved with Cachapuz' SLV Cement dispatching solution, but the prediction of the results of any change in the plant's components and processes require extra tools and further analysis. Moreover, the cement plant decision makers need to know where the processes will be improved and how they will be improved once SLV Cement is implemented to automate several areas of the plant. The seek for the answer to these questions was the motivation for the recent Research and Development work made by Cachapuz Bilanciai Group and University of Minho (Portugal), which applied simulation models to simulate the logistic processes of the cement plants.

Cachapuz Bilanciai Group and University of Minho joined forces to take SLV Cement to the next step in the innovation path. Combining the decades of experience of Cachapuz Bilanciai Group implementing SLV Cement in several cement plants worldwide with University of Minho's theoretical and practical knowledge in the simulation field, the result came up in the form of a simulation model that can be used to simulate real plant processes and analyze the results of any changes introduced on those processes.
The work was organized in three major milestones:
• Definition of the project aim
• Building of the Simulation Model
• Analysis of the results

Definition of the project aim
The definition of the project aim was the first and most important task of this work. As it is impossible to simulate infinite possibilities and infinite plant layouts, a "standard cement plant" was defined as a test basis. Based on the most common areas found on the several plants where SLV Cement solution was implemented, this standard cement plant includes the parking area for trucks, entrance and exit zones with weighing capabilities, bulk cement loading zones, bagged cement packing plant and raw materials unloading areas. For each one of the chosen areas, several variables were defined and will be used as input for the simulation models and also as the output for the analysis of the results, like the type and characteristics of the trucks, trucks arrival rating tables, the loading and unloading times, possible paths for the trucks from the parking zone to the exit zone, the distances between the several areas, resources and their capacities, among others.
The simulation tool chosen for this work was Simio, a multi-paradigm simulation software tool that provides a rapid and flexible modeling capability without requiring programming, thus exposing 3D display features to enable more realistic visualization of the simulation models.

Building of the Simulation Model
The second milestone of this work was the building of the model to simulate the defined scenario. In this stage of the work, the 3D and 2D objects were designed as well as the plant layout with the defined areas and the behavior of the trucks was programmed, including the possible paths for each kind of truck. After the building stage, the model was fed with the input data and executed to simulate the dispatching processes of the standard plant without SLV Cement solution implemented and then, the model was reconfigured with new parameters, resulted from an SLV Cement implementation. This way, it was possible to simulate a cement plant before and after the implementation of SLV Cement to analyze the results and to pinpoint the improvements on the dispatch processes gained with the implementation of SLV Cement.

Analysis of the results
The model created is able to produce rich reports when the simulation ends, enabling the complete analysis of the simulated scenario. With these reports it will be possible to analyze how the dispatching processes will be processed before the implementation of SLV Cement solution and, due to the Simio 3D visualization features, it is possible to see a very accurate virtual animation of the trucks' movement around the several areas of the plant. Moreover, with this simulation project it is possible to analyze, in detail, the impact of all the improvements offered by SLV Cement implementation in the cement plant, for instance:
• The reduction of the weighing time of the trucks due to the self-service kiosks
• The much quicker parking management due to automatic truck calling
• The reduction of the number of human errors due to the automatic management of the dispatching processes by SLV Cement
• The increase of the safety, security and organization within the cement plant
• The increase of the number of dispatched trucks and cement quantities, due to the improvement of the service

The simulation model allows the simulation of several behaviors of the trucks, by changing only the input data. This means that it is also possible to simulate the introduction of new rules for the truck drivers, like adding a schedule for one or more types of products or types of operations (loading/unloading) to a different time of the day (for instance, to a time shift with less number of trucks being dispatched) and see what happens to the processes. Because SLV Cement is a 24/7 self-service solution, the plant will be able to dispatch cement at any hour of the day without extra human resources, and with this simulation model, it will be possible to experiment different schedules in order to achieve the best performance of the processes before really implementing it on the site.

The work developed originated two scientific papers, written for two important simulation conferences:

1."Using Simio in the Design of Integrated Automated Solutions for Cement Plants", submitted to The International Workshop on Applied Modeling and Simulation (WASM 2010 in Brazil, Búzios, May 05, 06 and 07, 2010
2."Using Simulation for the Specification of an Integrated Automated Weighting Solution in a Cement Plant", submitted to the Winter Simulation Conference 2010 (WSC10 in Baltimore, Maryland, December 5-8, 2010)

Cachapuz Bilanciai Group and University of Minho considered this research and development work very successfully and are already defining the next steps to introduce this know-how and simulation modules in the SLV Cement framework, in order to offer powerful simulation features to the cement plants worldwide. After this first approach, the next step will consist on the development of software tools and modules, to be integrated in SLV Cement, which will be an important asset in determining the plant's bottlenecks and the areas where SLV Cement's implementation will enable a significant improvement on the cement plant's logistic processes.

SLV Cement
SLV Cement is an innovative system focused on cement manufacturing plants that provides the complete automation of the main functional areas: parking management, weighing operations, dispatching, entry/exit gates, bulked cement loading, bagged cement loading, raw materials unloading and business analysis. The solution integrates seamlessly with the client's ERP in online/offline mode (like SAP for instance), assuring the cement expedition and information registry 24/7 even in case of communication failure between the two systems. SLV Cement is a dispatching and logistics flow control solution that automates all the processes from the truck's arrival at the cement plant to the cement expedition, automatically printing all the necessary documentation at the end of the process.

SLV Cement Implementations
The number of companies that rely on SLV Cement for the cement dispatching and raw materials reception is growing worldwide. SLV Cement was implemented in all the Portuguese based plants of Secil (Maceira-Liz, Cibra-Pataias, Outão cement plants and also Trofa, Viana do Castelo, Aveiro and Leixões sales depots), Cimpor (Alhandra, Souselas, and Loulé cement plants), Cimentos Madeira, Cimentaçor and Cimentos Europa. With these implementations Cachapuz to achieved 100% market share on this business area in Portugal and started the internationalization process, which lead Cachapuz to implement SLV Cement in other countries. In Spain, SLV Cement was implemented in Cementos Balboa in Alconera zone (Badajoz). In South Africa and Tunisia, Cachapuz has implemented an SLV Cement subset in Cimpor quarries to manage the entrance, exit and weighing processes with SAP integration. In Egypt, in Alexandria, Amreyah Cimpor Cement Company is taking advantage of SLV Cement to manage all the dispatching operations (in which around 800 trucks are automatically dispatched every day, with peaks of 1200 trucks per day). Last year the solution was implemented in Angola, in the new cement plant of Nova Cimangola, and upgraded in Secil Outão cement works in Portugal, with the automation of a new expedition area. In the beginning of 2010, Cachapuz enters the Indian Market through the Jaypee Group (Jaiprakash Associates Limited) and is currently implementing SLV Cement in the main plant of the group, the Rewa Plant. New orders for upgrade of SLV Cement in Secil Maceira and Secil Pataias cement works, which have been working with SLV Cement for more than 15 years, have been issued to Cachapuz Bilanciai Group and will be implemented until the end of 2010.

Case study published on the International Cement Review, in December, 2010.