Yanbu Cement makes the move to higher efficiencies and automated operations

October 15, 2018 SIMON JENSEN

FLSmidth is supplying a burner retrofit and a full range of plant control system equipment to Yanbu Cement Company (YCC) in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.  

As Saudi Arabia looks to diversify its use of fuels in industry and be less reliant on oil and gas, cement producers such as Yanbu Cement Company are seeking to adopt new types of fuels in their pyro systems. This means looking at systems that can handle future needs as well as deliver on the current production commitments.  

Yanbu Cement Company (YCC) is one Saudi Arabia’s largest cement manufacturers, with facilities approximately 70 km northwest of the Yanbu Al Bahr harbour on the Red Sea. Late in 2017, Yanbu Cement approached FLSmidth about optimising the performance of its operations. Specifically, discussions centred on the retrofit of burner systems for two of its cement lines, Lines 4 and 5. 

A key objective was for YCC to decrease consumption of oil and make proper preparations for the use of solid and alternative fuels, explains Mr. Amr Nader, Assistant to the CEO of YCC. 

We don’t expect the burners to increase productivity as both lines are at the top of their production levels. Instead, we want to reduce fuel consumption. We will produce the same, but at a lower energy consumption and a more reliable firing rate. - Amr Nader, Assistant to the CEO of YCC

Future-ready fuel capabilities
Currently, oil is by far the predominant fuel for industrial burners such as those at the YCC plant. But given the need to diversify, another main demand was that the burner should be able to use coal and petcoke, ready for when these fuels will be brought into use in the future. FLSmidth’s burners can be fuelled by oil, coal and petcoke. 

Mr. Amr Nader comments, “We needed to upgrade our burner from oil fuelled to multi-fuel burner, where we can use alternative fuels and solid fuels in addition to oil.”

YCC looked into all the options for burner systems to identify the best possible solution. As YCC looks to the future, ready for a time when petcoke will be a prominent fuel in Saudi Arabia, the choice fell on FLSmidth to meet current production demands and future demands. 

“We evaluated all the burners from the major suppliers, and the FLSmidth Jetflex burner was significantly better than all the rest.

“The FLSmidth Jetflex provides a very good level of impulse, needing a much lower amount of primary air. This is an advantage when working with hard-to-fire fuels with a high sulphur content, such as petcoke. It means you can produce the flame with the minimum level of oxygen. Consequently, you can reduce flux regardless of the mix of the fuels.” 

Yanbu Cement and FLSmidth engineers inspected the FLSmidth JetFlex burners at FLSmidth’s Qingdao, China manufacturing facility in July 2018, before the burners were shipped to Saudi Arabia.  From right to left:  Mr. Zengqiang Zhang, Mr. Said Sbeinati and Mrs. Eleven Wu (FLSmidth); Mr. Majid Zugail and Mr. Osama Abdelmohsen (Yanbu Cement)

He also expects the FLSmidth solution to reduce the challenges of build-ups.

“We had the usual, quite frequent problems with build-ups in our production line. The high impulse fuel burners mean that the sulphur is vaporised in the chamber, reducing build-ups and increasing reliability.”

FLSmidth’s burner was constructed at its advanced manufacturing and office facilities in Qingdao in the Shandong province in China. A team of two from YCC visited FLSmidth’s manufacturing facilities in Quindao, China to inspect the burner. 

Project financing
After initial discussions about upgrading the burner, YCC and FLSmidth began to consider a broader view of the plant’s optimisation. This meant expanding the scope of supply to include the process, analysis and automation systems, which made good sense to YCC’s management because of the productivity gains. But it also meant additional financing to cover the expanded investment. 

Unexpectedly for YCC, this was another area in which FLSmidth could step in to support. Drawing on a large network within the financing community, FLSmidth has extensive experience in supporting clients with financing solutions and can offer a highly competitive customer financing proposition. It became quickly apparent that FLSmidth could not only provide the equipment and know-how YCC was looking for, but also assist with financing. 

So, what started as a relatively straightforward burner system retrofit grew into a comprehensive productivity and quality enhancement project involving multiple systems. The contract was finalised in late 2017 at a total value (equipment supply) of 4.2 million Euros.

Centralised control systems
The additional advanced process systems would enable YCC to better control its production and chemical processes as well as reduce emissions.

“From a control and logistic point of view, we wanted to have one central control room for both lines. We decided to upgrade from the current systems to one FLSmidth system that could handle both lines.” - Amr Nader, Assistant to the CEO of YCC

“The new system from FLSmidth gives us more flexibility with process control, more powerful control capabilities over both lines, and excellent reporting capabilities. And, it is accessible on mobile devices, which is in line with YCC’s digital transformation strategy . This will make performance monitoring much more efficient.”

Whereas the burners will help YCC specifically to decrease fuel consumption, the FLSmidth ECS/ProcessExpert® control system will play a major part in lifting the productivity of the cement lines.         

The contract between Yanbu Cement and FLSmidth was signed in London, UK in December 2017. From left to right: Mr. Amr Nader, Dr. Ahmad Zugail, Mr. Simon Jensen, Mr. Said Sbeinati

Understanding cement
One of YCC’s chief demands of FLSmidth was a turnkey solution. Aggressive timelines were set, so it was important that a good, smooth working process was established. This would enable FLSmidth to deliver tried and tested, fully operational burners to YCC on the expected day. Line 5 is scheduled to be commissioned in October, with Line 4 following in November.

Detailed production goals have been established for the burners and the control system, and Mr. Amr Nader is confident that FLSmidth will live up to the promise:

“FLSmidth is a well-known, reliable supplier. Dealing with an expert supplier with tried and proven products is much more productive for us than trying out new products.” - Amr Nader, Assistant to the CEO of YCC

He believes there is a key area in which FLSmidth truly stands out.

“The best thing about FLSmidth is that they are cement industry people. Even the sales and commercial people talk the same language as the technical people. So, no matter who I’m talking to, we have a common understanding about how to solve challenges.”

He also points out the high level of implementation as well as the level of training that new people get during the project and even after installation.

“This is one of the main advantages FLSmidth has as a supplier of cement production equipment,” he says.

Customer on call
For FLSmidth, the project has been very smooth, according to Said Sbeinati, Area Sales Manager, FLSmidth.

 “It has been extremely easy to work with the team at YCC. That’s not just because the staff are highly competent and well-trained. It’s also because they know exactly what they want with the systems we are delivering. They have supported us and worked together with us throughout. They’re always on call at any time, which is important if we are to achieve the deadlines we have set.” - Said Sbeinati, Area Sales Manager, FLSmidth

About Yanbu Cement
Yanbu Cement Company (YCC), a Saudi joint stock company, is one of the major cement manufacturers in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the largest cement company in the Western Region with a total installed capacity above 7.0 million tonnes of clinker and cement dispatch capacity above 10 million tonnes per year. Yanbu Cement is ranked as one of the top 50 companies in KSA with a paid-up capital of SR 1.575 billion.

Contact:
Simon Jensen
Simon.Jensen@flsmidth.com

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