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Improved decision making with digitalization at Vigier Ciment in Switzerland

ABB Ability™ Knowledge Manager solution helps leading cement producer integrate process, quality, maintenance and environmental data for unified productivity decisions

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Customer need

Collect and summarize data across different departments:

  • The right architecture for unified reporting system across the departments
  • Reduction of manual data entries
  • High performance tool to help users make decisions based on consolidated and transparent information at plant and corporate levels

ABB solution

ABB Ability™ Knowledge Manager software, related hardware, commissioning, training and other services to:

  • automatically obtain the values from measuring instruments
  • easily view, analyze and act upon critical process data and improve production efficiency

Benefits

Simultaneous access to production, environmental and quality data in real time:

  • optimization of production planning
  • increase of cement stock capacity
  • root cause analysis of lower cement grinding output
  • mass and energy balances
  • analysis of gas emissions in relation to raw material chemical analysis
“It is important to have the right architecture to create a high-performance tool that supplies the information required by the staff”
"Thanks to these simplifications, we now have to enter around 30% less data by hand. That saves a lot of time "
"Many employees can not even imagine working without the system."

Those who let their gaze wander in the Klus of Reuchenette near Péry in the Bernese Jura will see limestone slopes in almost all directions. One understands why Vigier Ciment has chosen this location for a cement factory: The basic raw material is abundant here. Since 1891, the company has been producing Portland cement at this location. It is used in civil engineering and other construction projects.

VIGIER CIMENT

Vigier Ciment AG Péry is part of Vigier Holding AG. Since 1891 Portland cement has been produced in the Klus of Reuchenette. Today, the company from the Bernese Jura, with 145 employees and an annual production of around 900,000 t, is one of the most important Swiss producers of cement.

Sound decision-making

Cement production is a complex process. To make it as efficient as possible, many process and material data must be collected and analyzed. This forms the basis for optimally coordinating production planning with orders, raw material inventory and other requirements. In addition, this work is important to meet the quality and environmental protection requirements. Both the finished cement and raw materials and intermediates have different regulations. In the cement plant, for example, material samples are regularly analyzed against this background.

Vigier Ciment previously used a variety of tools to manage data in its various departments. This made it costly to summarize the data and to get an overall view. To make the processes more efficient, the company decided to buy a new solution. The choice fell on the ABB Ability Knowledge Manager.
Kim Tran, Quality, Environment and Performance Manager at Vigier Ciment
"We evaluated several vendors for such a solution. The ABB Ability Knowledge Manager is the most complete solution for our needs. Above all, it is best tailored to the specific requirements of a cement plant. "

ABB Ability™ Knowledge Manager collects data from different sources in the plant, transforms it into meaningful KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) and makes this information available across the customer organization to facilitate process improvements.

A clear and integrated architecture of all processes

The digital information management system enables customers to make informed decisions based on consolidated and transparent information at plant and company level. The software captures data from various sources, such as automation systems or ERP systems, transforms them into meaningful performance indicators and provides various analysis options.

"We evaluated several vendors for such a solution," says Kim Tran, Quality, Environment and Performance Manager at Vigier Ciment. "The ABB Ability Knowledge Manager is the most complete solution for our needs. Above all, it is best tailored to the specific requirements of a cement plant. "

By acquiring ABB Ability™ Knowledge Manager solution, the cement producer took a further step towards digitalization, helping its team make production decisions more quickly, identify weak process areas and opportunities for improvement as well as control the environmental impact of plant processes.

To create such an efficient system that meets the needs of all users, a cross-department project team, led by a project leader who is able to build a full picture of the data system, is a key requirement. A clear and integrated architecture of all processes must be defined before the project starts. While some challenges emerged, ABB and Vigier Ciment were able to solve these.
"You realize that behind the solution are people who know our industry."
The Knowledge Manager can also be used on mobile device via WLAN: Kim Tran (r.) And Marc Aurele Finger, technicians in the area of ​​Quality, Environment and Performance Management, access the data on the plant premises.

Simultaneous access to production, environmental and quality data in real time

The data management processes in the factory have since become simpler: In the past, for example, in the laboratory, measured values and information had to be manually entered and passed on in several steps. Today, they can be centrally recorded in the Knowledge Manager and consolidated and evaluated at the touch of a button. In part, the system can even automatically obtain the values from measuring instruments. "Thanks to these simplifications, we now have to enter around 30% less data by hand. That saves a lot of time, "says a delighted Kim Tran. Vigier Ciment also uses the solution for the ongoing optimization of production capacity. For this purpose, employees analyze data on past production processes and results, among other things. The Knowledge Manager offers extensive possibilities for this.

The unified and single reporting system of the Knowledge Manager has improved the visibility of the company’s processes as Vigier Ciment now has simultaneous access to production, environmental and quality data in real time.

The transparent access to centralized data has improved communication between the departments and helped the plant’s decision makers to make results-oriented decisions, enabling them to resolve various issues through statistical reports, according to the cement producer. Moreover, the easy and fast data extraction means analysis of unusual events happens in a few hours rather than days.

Kim Tran, Ciment Vigier SA
“The installation of ABB Ability Knowledge Manager and digitalization of our plant data is really helping us to optimize our short-term production processes and long-term operations”

Real process improvements based on conducted studies

In terms of research carried out to improve operational performance, the plant has conducted studies into the optimization of production planning and the increase of cement stock capacity.

Further subjects include the root cause analysis of lower cement grinding output, mass and energy balances as well as an analysis of gas emissions in relation to raw material chemical analysis.

"All my colleagues are very satisfied with the system. It meets all our needs and has proven to be very reliable, "says Kim Tran. "In the meantime, it is even the case that many employees can no longer imagine working without this system. You wonder how it ever went without, "she adds. 

The implementation and introduction of the new software also ran smoothly: "We were able to implement the project very quickly. The knowledge of the ABB experts about the needs and processes of the cement industry has contributed significantly to this. That's exactly where the knowledge manager has a big advantage: you can see that behind it are people who know our industry. "

Knowledge Manager is part of ABB Ability™, ABB’s unified, cross-industry, digital offering, which enables customers to increase productivity and lower costs. It has helped cement and mining customers around the world to improve the performance of their operations, and the safety of their on-site personnel for decades.

ABB Ability™ Knowledge Manager incorporates leading-edge digital capabilities and technology to provide cement and mining industry customers with the ability to easily view, analyze, and act upon critical process data.


Kim Tran, Ciment Vigier SA
“The system gives us a better view into our production process, as well as faster and easier access to our data. The instantaneous reports, trends and the data collection tools help us to carry out studies and take decisions. This new tool already leads to real process improvements.”

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