A drone hovers inside a 31-foot silo of Holcim Philippines’ plant in Bacnotan, La Union to inspect it as part of the site’s regular maintenance activities. The drone’s operator takes notes of the maintenance actions to be taken. The activity is done in a few minutes.
Using drones for this task has eliminated health and safety risks from having people conduct visual inspections in remote spaces. The drone also allows for a higher frequency of checks and reduces equipment downtimes required for such inspections.
The use of drones is one of several digitalization initiatives that leading building solutions provider Holcim Philippines has undertaken. The company has accelerated these efforts as part of its innovation drive to raise business, safety, and environmental performance to further improve the efficiency and safety of manufacturing operations.
In 2022, Holcim Philippines implemented over 70 projects to raise manufacturing performance through automation technologies under the Holcim Group’s Plants of Tomorrow program. Focused on automating production processes and predictive maintenance, the Philippine projects are designed to generate optimization gains and savings.
Holcim Philippines President and CEO Horia Adrian: “Digitalization is a key part of our innovation and sustainability direction to further make operations safer, more efficient, and respectful of the environment. We have already realized a number of gains from these initiatives and are excited to accelerate our transition to digitalizing our plants to better serve customers and ultimately deliver excellent business results.”
A key Plants of Tomorrow initiative is the use of artificial intelligence for data-driven decision-making in operations. Already, sensors have been installed in key equipment to provide operators with real-time data to guide them in keeping these running within parameters. Stable operations in turn improve plant production and the ability to utilize low-carbon alternatives while also reducing equipment wear and tear.
Holcim Philippines is also following the same approach in maintaining facilities with software that projects the state of equipment for 90-day periods based on data provided by sensors. The information is critical in helping the company plan maintenance activities and conduct an early intervention to prevent operational disruptions.
Furthermore, the company is deploying predictive tools in ensuring product quality with software that projects the strength development of its cement for different time periods. This enables the company to make adjustments to its products faster instead of waiting for several days to implement tweaks.
Holcim Philippines is even using digitalization to simplify daily meetings with software that consolidates information from different areas of operations. This removes the need to open numerous applications and preparation of reports allowing plant personnel to focus on implementing actions.
Holcim Philippines Senior Vice President for Cement Industrial Performance Eung Rae Kim: “We are very proud of our people for quickly adopting our digitalization direction. Upon seeing the benefits for the plants and the simplification of their job, our people immediately embraced this shift and are actively looking for ways to apply digitalization in other areas.”
The company also uses its drones for material surveying of storage facilities instead of having people conduct more costly and time-consuming physical audits. The quick adoption of digital tools in other areas of operations shows the company’s growing ease with its digitalization transition. Already, Holcim Philippines is exploring the of use predictive technologies to improve the reliability and efficiency of operations and consumption of resources. While the company is still at the early stages of its digitalization journey, it is confidently moving towards making its plants ready to face the challenges of tomorrow.