Circular economy in concrete plants.
In the construction sector, the management and operation of concrete plants has been characterized in recent years by a progressive level of technology.
The plant worker continues to be the key figure in this type of facility, since the production operations themselves fall on him, as well as production planning and maintenance tasks.
But technology does not stop advancing and this progressive modernization is linked to the evolution towards intelligent production, with which to achieve higher levels of performance and efficiency, sustainable use of resources and raw materials, optimizing consumption and reducing production waste, recycling the surplus within the production process itself and giving rise to perfect circular economy cycles in harmony with the environment.
In this way, the business model of the concrete batching industries evolves irreversibly, incorporating the concepts of circular economy, which will mean a reduction in the negative impact of this activity on the environment.
This situation is leading to the need to have plant operators prepared for the paradigm shift.
However, today a handicap is observed in concrete plants distributed throughout the world: the worker needs to complement his knowledge and experience with the necessary training so that he can face the changes in the operation of the new plants with all guarantees much digitized.
For this reason, elements of production assistance must be incorporated, so that it operates properly and can make the most of the technological capabilities of the machinery and the resources it uses.
Currently, concrete plants are based on a classical industrial control architecture. There is a programmable controller or PLC as the main process controller, connected to a series of I/O devices (inputs/outputs), motors, sensors and actuators. Supervision, Control and Data Acquisition tools are used, commonly known by its acronym in English SCADA, in addition to having MES (Manufacturing Execution System) systems, focused on production control, which monitors and documents the management of the plant.
With this, production is controlled (planning and monitoring of orders, delivery notes and stocks of raw materials, among other tasks), delivery notes are configured, and the operation of each element in the plant is monitored in real time, so that they can be perform different actions on it (machine start/stop, automatic warning, etc.).
However, these tools require knowledge of the operation of industrial plants, since they have a great dependence on the actions of the human operator, especially in terms of decision-making, digital capacity to interact with the system and business management capacity.
This real situation is a problem at all kinds of scale, since the plants are in an increasingly compromised situation, having external dependencies that escape the supplier of the concrete plants.
In this line, the opportunity arises for concrete batching plants to evolve towards sustainability and the circular economy, through the intensive use of 4.0 enabling technologies, or KET (Key Enabling Technology) that mitigate the aforementioned problems. It is strategic for the concrete sector to move towards the digital transformation of plants, evolving towards new lines of products and services, in which a new generation of sustainable and intelligent plants is developed, eliminating dependence on factors beyond the control of the company or decision maker.
This new generation of concrete plants guarantees correct use of the functionalities that lead to efficient, quality production, with production traceability and respectful of the environment.
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