Навигационные полоски


16 июня 2019

An Innovative Approach to Continuous Clinker Sampling at the Festus Plant

The clinker sampler at Buzzi Unicem USA’s Festus, MO, plant has always been an operational challenge. The chute and slide gate system was originally located at the discharge chute of the pan conveyor taking clinker from the cooler. This system would frequently get plugged and was susceptible to inefficiency with different loads on the kiln. More importantly, it was located in a very dusty and hot environment and frequent breakdowns led to nearly continuous maintenance. The sampler would often be down for weeks at a time, requiring a utility worker to be staged there for 8 hours each shift, physically collecting samples every 5 minutes directly from the clinker discharge with a shovel. Repairing the sampler in those conditions was difficult, as you were working right next to very hot clinker and could only have the pan conveyor shut down for short periods of time, forcing workers to rush their work. Taking manual samples in hot dusty environments and having individuals close to the flow hot material posed safety issues. To resolve this situation, a task force was established to re-design the system so it would work safely and efficiently.

The design team started with a brainstorming session that identified multiple options. After full deliberation, the tray sampler was determined to be the most feasible solution. Needing to transfer falling clinker into a chute about two feet (0.6m) away from the discharge chute, the team at Buzzi Unicem USA designed a simple single-action tray sampler that would be hydraulically inserted under the falling clinker, collect a sample and, while being pulled back, deposit the clinker into a sample chute by means of a pusher plate. The biggest obstacle was getting the tray dimensions precise, as the system was being built during production. With this simple mechanical design no physical labor has to be used – it is fully automated and takes samples whenever the sample crusher calls for them, taking all manpower out of the equation to keep workers safe. Additionally, the tray sampler was also designed for easy removal making maintenance safer by allowing maintenance to be completed outside of the dusty environment and without any tight time constraints.

The design phase for this project took two weeks, and installing and automating the system took only a few days.  Operation with the tray sampler has cut down on the need for physical labor for sampling, keeps workers out of a difficult environment, mitigates risk by cutting out the need for human involvement and allows workers to be more productive in other areas of the plant.

This project was awarded the 2019 PCA Safety Innovation Award, which was accepted by Project Manager Howard Edwards, along with Plant Manager, Brad Williams, in Washington D.C. We appreciate all of the assistance and hard work that made this project a reality.


16 июня 2019

Capacity Expansion at the Dallas (TX) Terminal - The Legacy Continues

In 1900, a group of Galveston investors, bought land west of Dallas to build a cement plant and started the Texas Portland Cement & Lime Company (Co.), the first cement company in north Texas. The plant was then successively purchased by Iola Portland Cement Co., Texas Portland Cement & Lime Co. and Texas Portland Cement Co. In 1908, Texas Portland announced plans to expand the plant and established the city of Cement. The city’s population reached a high point of 878 in 1920 and was ultimately annexed by the City of Dallas in 1928. Finally, in 1935, on its' way to becoming the largest cement company in the US, Lone Star Cement Corporation, bought Texas Portland.

The Dallas metro area continued to grow, first supported by cotton farming and later by the discovery of oil. In 1958 Lone Star greatly expanded the plant making it the flagship plant in the growing Lone Star Empire and the largest cement plant in the US. Urban sprawl eventually incorporated the plant into the city limits of Dallas. By the 1960’s the City of Dallas acquired some of the old quarry property to create an interstate connector corridor to the burgeoning sister city of Ft Worth.

Unfortunately, in 1970 urban construction and the lack of additional quarry property forced the plant production to cease, but it survived as a distribution terminal. In 1979, the real estate division of Lone Star developed Lone Star Business Park at the site, still operating today with a single 300-foot (91meter) kiln stack standing as a monument of the past.

What makes the Buzzi Unicem terminal unique is its' close proximity to downtown areas of Dallas. If you’ve ever driven in Dallas, then you have witnessed its epic traffic congestion, something our customers avoid due to the favorable location. The Buzzi terminal is inside the metro Dallas interstate system and easily accessible by truck.

Over the past 20 years the revitalization of the Dallas area has increased the demand for conveniently available cement. The sales out of the Dallas Terminal have gone from 50,000 short tons per year (stpy) (45,375 metric tons per year (mtpy)) to over 250,000 stpy (227,000 mtpy). The original plant silos are still in use but the older truck loading system was working beyond its limits. Additional sales would be available if we could improve the truck loading side and rail unloading process.


The new Terminal

Responding to that demand, in 2018 a modernization project was approved to expand throughput capacity of the aging 250,000 stpy (227,000 mtpy) terminal facility.  The upgrade was conceived to support a maximum 450,000 stpy (410,000 mtpy) throughput due to increasing market demands.  The new facility would include expansion capability for both rail unloading and truck load-out systems.

The existing terminal contained a small 200 st (180 mt) storage tank with a single truck scale and sufficient rail tracks onsite to accommodate a total of 59 rail cars with limited ability to offload.

A majority of the cement is required to be stored in the existing silos, all of which is required to be double handled.  The new terminal system design consists of two new pneumatic rail unloading stations able to directly feed a 3,000 st (2,725 mt) truck load-out storage tank serviced by twin truck load-out stations with scales.   

The project is being implemented in two phases.  Phase 1 includes the new tank placement, and rail unloading and truck loading systems.  The second phase, scheduled for 2020, will demolish an existing packhouse to make room for the addition of expanded rail infrastructure that will fully support up to 112 railcars.

The project faced some interesting challenges, including the need to react to undocumented underground old facility foundations during the civil construction period and a lengthy permitting process with the city of Dallas.  However, probably one of the most difficult challenges came from the persistent record rainfall that was experienced over many months, with several events producing abnormally high volumes of rain.  In all cases our Project team and contractors worked hard to minimize the schedule and cost impacts while efficiently coordinating all work with ongoing terminal operations.

Phase 1 of the new terminal was successfully commissioned within budget in July. We now look forward to a smooth and timely completion of Phase 2 by the second quarter of 2020.

16 июня 2019

Manufacturing the Impossible: New Shapes Beyond Formwork

Buzzi Unicem USA and Lehigh University have established a strategic partnership spanning research, recruitment, outreach, and cultural activities. Lehigh is a research university located in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, close to Buzzi Unicem’s USA headquarters. Lehigh’s Civil and Environmental Engineering Department is considered one of the leaders in the world for structural mechanics and design, and it is currently ranked best in the USA (third in the world) for research in Civil Engineering by the prestigious Academic Ranking of World Universities, which according to Wikipedia is “one of the three most influential and widely observed university measures”.

The flagship project of this industry-academia collaboration focuses on the development of a new methodology for 3D printing concrete components and structures. The most common techniques for concrete 3D printing consist in extruding premixed low-slump concrete through a large nozzle attached to a robotic arm. While this approach was instrumental in popularizing concrete 3D printing and allowed to build the first simple structures, it has several drawbacks. The main issue is that it progresses by depositing subsequent layers, one over the other, with the previous layers supporting the new ones, and this prevents the creation of openings and overhangs. In addition, the resulting surfaces show the layers, and they are aesthetically unappealing.

In contrast, the methodology developed by Lehigh and Buzzi Unicem USA consists in precisely jetting micro-droplets of a water-based liquid on extremely thin layers of concrete and fine aggregates. The printer automatically spreads layer after layer of the dry mix, and the automated print-head selectively activates the cement hydration only in the locations that are needed for that layer, by jetting droplets only in those regions. The inert cement and aggregates serve as support for the following layers, allowing the creation of openings, cavities, and overhangs. At the end of the printing process, the dry mix that did not react can be easily collected and reused. This manufacturing process is completely automated and free from the constraints of traditional formwork, which also enables the manufacturing of geometries that could not be formed with traditional casting. The geometric precision is millimetric, and the surface finish confers an appealing look to the manufactured objects.

The collaboration first focused on the development of an effective manufacturing protocol and the selection of appropriate materials. After a broad range of tests, Buzzi Unicem USA CSA cement emerged as the best option for the binder, especially due to its fast set time (which confers strength during the printing process) and its ability to rapidly absorb water, which is important to prevent “bleeding” of water to locations where hydration should not occur and preserve geometric accuracy. These results obtained with Buzzi Unicem USA CSA were featured in an article recently published in the prestigious international journal Construction and Building Materials.

The collaboration between Buzzi Unicem USA and Lehigh was also brought to the attention of the State of Pennsylvania, which decided to co-fund the effort. In the future, the project will aim at increasing the size of the produced objects, through the use of larger printers and modular printing of components assembled with post-tensioning cables. Along this line, the team is also investigating a novel way of applying reinforcement, with the same geometric freedom that 3D printing confers to concrete. Another goal is to develop a new design paradigm, which embraces this unprecedented geometric freedom not only for architectural decoration, but also for structural optimization. To this end, the team has started investigating the use of techniques for topology optimization.

While the methodology is not yet ready to be deployed in practice, it has the potential to revolutionize the precast industry, and the entire construction sector. New shapes that do not need formwork will enable visionary designs and cost savings. Lehigh University and Buzzi Unicem USA have formed a team that combines world-class expertise in cementitious materials, structural design, additive manufacturing, and numerical optimization. For this reason, the team is well positioned to be a leader in the field, commercialize a “cement mix for 3D printing”, and accelerate the adoption in practice of this new approach.


16 июня 2019

MODCO Valve Reliability Improvements at the Chattanooga Plant

As the business environment continued to improve in 2016, one of the main challenges faced at the Chattanooga facility was to improve finish mill reliability. Maintenance department personnel volunteered to review issues with the finish mill and its auxiliary equipment. The recurring issue, which stood out to team members, was with the MODCO cement conveying system, which conveys finished product to our cement silos.  Over a two-year period from 2015 through 2016, the MODCO system accounted for 14 percent of the finish mill downtime. Whilst examining the downtime in detail, the performance statistics revealed that over this period of time 93 mill stoppages or 166 hours were attributed to the MODCO, or 37 percent of the unscheduled mill downtime. Finish mill reliability performance was approximately 90 percent over this period. Improving the MODCO reliability was paramount.  

The MODCO system, commissioned in 2000 as part of the plant expansion, is a dual pod pneumatic system used to transport cement from the finish mill to the cement storage silos. It uses an arrangement of valves to pressurize, aerate, vent, fill and discharge the pods.

Cement is conveyed to the pod, a “radish” shaped vessel, through a flow control valve on top of the pod. When the pod is full, the outlet valve on the bottom opens and the pod pressurizes with sufficient air to ensure an even flow of material from into the transition chamber, where blending with conveying air occurs. The transition chamber is designed to produce laminar flow of the air-material mixture as it enters the pipeline, enhancing the energy efficiency of the system. A PLC manages the cycling operation of the pods.  

The particular issues experienced with the MODCO was reliability performance of the vent and butterfly type aeration valves. Premature failures due to high velocity airflow coupled with cement abrasion were the root cause. The failure of this equipment occurred in the valve body, the sealing surface and valve stem packing.

Vent valves used a single disk composed of cast stellite material, with a carbon steel body, which lasted approximately three months.  Upgraded valves were purchased and trialed. This new application incorporated ceramic internals to combat the abrasive media.  The gate seat of these new valves is spring loaded to ensure a tight seal to prevent cement particles from cutting the disk and body. The ceramic lined gate seats were the key to improved performance.  

Butterfly valves required replacement due to wear issues of the seat and failures of the actuators. The experiment with a new high performance butterfly valves commenced in 2016. There were four valves installed, two on each pod’s air supply lines. The high performance butterfly valve is unique due to its protected seat design. The seal material composition is polytetrafluoroethylene. The stainless steel seat protector’s purpose is to protect the seal from the abrasive environment. These valves have now realized close to two years of service life, versus the previous version, which lasted approximately four months.

The improvement in valve life has been significant due to the efforts of the maintenance project team.  

This maintenance improvement project has allowed us to achieve a finish mill reliability of 96 percent and helped us to reduce our maintenance costs over the last two years. 

16 июня 2019

Raw Mill 3 Classifier Upper Seal Upgrade at the Festus Plant

The vertical Loesche Raw Mill in Festus, Missouri has run for the last 10 years without requiring replacement of the upper labyrinth seal on the classifier. Recently, this upper compartment was in need of replacement due to extensive wear and reduced efficiency of the classifier, along with frequent leaks from the upper housing of the separator. The wear components of the original design were integrally combined with the outside housing, so in order to replace the seal, the entire separator housing needed to be replaced. These components were heavily worn when inspected in early 2018 and process material was eating into the frame. Given this, Festus initiated discussions with Loesche for a change-out that was being planned for early 2019.

Loesche was contacted in early 2018 about the materials needed for the upper classifier seal replacement, and they informed management about an upgraded seal design that allows for better gap control in the separator, and ideally more efficient production. Along with this seal upgrade, Buzzi management proposed a design change that allowed the wear components to be bolted into the frame, instead of being a part of the frame itself. Another design change was to further sectionalize the upper seal compartment. Standard Loesche designs of this seal is two pieces, but at the suggestion of a Buzzi maintenance supervisor, this was re-designed into four pieces to make future replacement more efficient. Additionally, with the two piece assembly, the associated duct is required to be taken out, which requires a large crane for an extended period of time. With four pieces, the compartment sections are small enough to be handled without a crane, greatly simplifying the maintenance process. Collectively this would allow for easier replacement and lower maintenance costs. Loesche welcomed these modifications and the final design of the replacement seal had the wear component bolt-in change with the seal compartment divided into four sections.

Installation of this new classifier seal was completed in January 2019 during Festus’ winter outage. Implementation was not without its difficulties, as the top separator duct had to be completely removed in order to remove the cover from the separator. Next, since the new seal design included a housing change, a 360degree cut around the entire separator needed to be made in order to fit the new seal housing in place (see Figures 3 through 6). Next, the new four-section housing was set in place and welded. This alignment was not without its struggles, as maintenance had to trim along the entire edge old separator to get the new sections to fit, causing an unexpected increase in time. Once all excesses material was trimmed away and alignment holes were lined up, the new sections could be set in place. Finally the classifier duct was reinstalled, with the expectation that it will not be removed again for a long time, due to the changes made to make the components more sectionalized. The installation was scheduled for 10 days, and all jobs were completed in time, even with the additional modifications needed to have the seal installed.

With over 2 months of run time with the new seal and wear components, production performance has been highly reliable with no issues. This upgrade not only assisted with classifier gap control, but is also expected to reduce future maintenance costs due to the bolted wear components and the ability to remove top seal sections without the assistance of a large crane. This upgrade was completed safely and we would like to thank all workers and supervisors who were involved with this project for their hard work and dedication.

16 июня 2019

Stockertown Receives a Recognition Award for Support to Retirement of US Flags

Did you know that the ceremonial process of burning the flag has specific requirements?

The flag must be correctly folded, laid in a fire and burned while either being saluted, having the Pledge of Allegiance recited or the National Anthem sung. Since 2012, Northampton Marine Corps Detachment #298 has collected and properly disposed of 35,130 flags with the assistance of the Stockertown Plant. With the help of Gregg Knecht, the Plant Safety & Health Manager at that time, the plant offered its kilns for the ceremonial flag burning.

The plant conducted initial testing to determine how to support this patriotic duty while maintaining normal kiln operations. The decision was made to use the calciner of Kiln 3 on the pre-heater tower, with temperatures at 1,650°F (900°C), and representatives of the 298th Detachment present to observe and approve the recommended process. The procedure requires that plant personnel dress in thermal fire suits to conduct the burning and that the required ceremonial folding and salute is held with the last flag to be burned.

The plant personnel involved with the ceremony include two Process Attendants, one Supervisor and a Plant military veteran. Based on his love of country and pride in the plant’s support, Supervisor Mel Hall, a Marine and Pennsylvania National Guard veteran, is most often the military representative that oversees the proper folding and administers the military salute.

Prior to the plant's participation, disposal was difficult since it required the local volunteers to drive to military bases, most more than 2 hours away. Because of the backlog of flags needing proper disposal, initially dozens old flags were retired at the plant each quarter. In 2018 alone, the plant assisted with the retiring of 8,004 American flags. The majority of old flags come from cemeteries and businesses in Northampton County, and the 298th Detachment has five sites located throughout Northampton County where communities can drop off flags for proper disposal.

Founded in February 1946, Northampton County Detachment #298 is a chapter of the national service organization chartered by Congress in 1931. The purpose of this organization is to:

“Join together in preserving the traditions and promoting interests in the USMC. Through our continued community service we carry on the ideals of American freedom and democracy. Our members volunteer aid and render assistance to all Marines, former Marines and all other services.”

Northampton County Detachment #298, which has 185 members and participate in a variety of community-related military events including Memorial and Veterans Day activities, parades, K-12 education as well as attending funerals for local veterans. More information on this unit can be found at: https://norcomcl.org

In recognition of the plants dedication and continuing support, five members of the Northampton County Detachment presented a plaque to Bruce Keim, Plant Manager, and Mel Hall, Supervisor and Marine. 

01 октября 2018

The Final Chapter of the Oglesby Plant - A Legacy of Returning to Nature

In October 2018 Buzzi Unicem USA completed a sale with the State of Illinois (IL) for property previously used for operating the Oglesby, IL Plant.  The State eagerly anticipated this transaction, since it facilitated an increase of more than 50% in public parkland, significantly expanding the State's busiest open park complex.

Situated in north-central IL about 100 miles (160 kilometers) south-west of Chicago, the Oglesby Plant was nestled between Matthieson Park to the east and Starved Rock Park to the north.  Oglesby began operation on a 40-acre (16.2-hectares) plot in December 1892 as the Williamson & Wilson Portland Cement Plant (using a "state-of-the-art" 10-ft by 40-ft [3.5-m by 12.2-m] vertical kiln).  In 1898, the newly formed Marquette Cement Company acquired the plant and conducted cement production operations into the 1980's.  Over that time Marquette modernized the production lines twice, once in the 1920's and again in the 1970's, and acquired surrounding properties along the way. In April 1982, the plant changed hands for one final time when Lone Star Industries (LSI), later incorporated in Buzzi Unicem USA, purchased the entirety of the Marquette Company.  LSI had a successful run into the mid-2000's, but, unfortunately had to cease production during the "Great Recession" in 2008.

By the time the Oglesby plant made its last ton of cement, the Company had acquired over 2,600 acres (over 1050 hectares) of property on both sides of a significant stretch along the Vermillion River.  Some of the land was recovered quarry area and some of the land was pristine river woodland, but all of it was ideally situated adjacent to IL public parkland that hosts over 2 millions of visitors a year. As Buzzi Unicem USA plans developed to divest the property, the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) quickly expressed a keen interest in the acquisition.  Recognizing an opportunity that could provide nature preservation and public recreational activities to the community that supported over a century of successful mining and manufacturing, Buzzi Unicem USA entered into exclusive negotiations with the IDNR for the transaction.  While the State of Illinois’ significant financial restrictions extended the negotiations for several years, the deal was successfully concluded last October.

The IDNR is now moving forward with a meticulous process of examining and documenting the native flora and fauna currently present to ensure preservation of sensitive and rare species and habitat.  They are also developing a long-term plan that includes enhancement of forest and prairie habitat, establishment of nature trails and campgrounds, installation of a suspension foot bridge over the Vermillion River and provision of river access for kayaking, canoeing and fishing. These plans also include posting areas with informative and interpretive signs that will highlight its' history and Buzzi Unicem USA role in the environmental preservation. Having been part of the long-standing business that contributed to the community's local economy, we are pleased with the prospect that the Oglesby Plant is playing a role in establishing this lasting legacy.

29 мая 2019

Two Buzzi Unicem USA Plants Receive 2019 ENERGY STAR Certification - Eleven Consecutive Years

The Buzzi Unicem USA manufacturing facilities in Chattanooga, TN and Festus, MO recently received the 2019 ENERGY STAR® certification from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, recognizing their superior energy performance among similar facilities in the industry. In fact, ENERGY STAR certified plants perform in the top 25 percent of similar facilities nationwide. 

This is the eleventh consecutive year that these facilities have earned the ENERGY STAR recognition. In meeting these strict qualifications, these facilities are saving energy, saving money, and helping protect the environment by using less energy than peer facilities. 

For more than 20 years, EPA’s ENERGY STAR program has been America’s resource for saving energy and protecting the environment. Today, thousands of facility owners and managers use ENERGY STAR to improve the energy performance of their buildings and plants. 

Take child to work day
17 мая 2019

Take child to work day

On Thursday, April 25th, the Stockertown Plant welcomed 18 future workers, along with some of their parents, for the annual Bring Your Children to Work Day.  Children, ages 4 – 16, representing both the plant and the BUUSA Corporate office, participated in a day that showcased the work that is conducted at the plant. 

The day started with a safety overview by Environmental Manager, Keith Williams, followed by a tour of plant operations with Plant Manager, Bruce Keim, including presentations at the Hercules Meadow Pavilion, by plant management (Bill Fink (Quality Control Manager), Adam Estrella (Quarry Manager), Jacob Tufano (Production Manager), Mike Knight (Storeroom Clerk), Cavin Israel (Maintenance Engineer) and Trevor Stone (Production Superintendent)., on their roles and their career path to and within Buzzi Unicem USA.  Amy Kowalski (Corporate HR Manager), also provided some information about jobs at the corporate office. Afterwards, the group helped plant white pine seedlings along the northeastern edge of the Meadows area and were provided participation gifts to thank them for their efforts.   

Thanks to Krista Karasek and Amy Kowalski for organizing/providing an interesting and fun day for the children, and parents! 

09 апреля 2019

Buzzi Unicem USA Receives 2019 PCA Sustainabile Manufacturing Awards for Community Outreach and Safety Innovation

The Portland Cement Association (PCA), founded in 1916, is the premier policy, research, education, and market intelligence organization serving America's cement manufacturers. The Association promotes safety, sustainability, and innovation in all aspects of construction, fosters continuous improvement in cement manufacturing and distribution, and generally promotes economic growth and sound infrastructure investment.  
Annually PCA recognizes industry leadership and innovation through their Sustainable Manufacturing Awards program in the areas of: 

Environment and Energy (E&E) 

Safety Innovation, and 

Safety Performance 

On April 9 Buzzi Unicem USA was the recipient of 2019 Awards in the E&E and Safety Innovation categories.  

The Buzzi Unicem Greencastle Plant won the 2019 E&E Land Stewardship award for outstanding achievement in community relations  for their work with the not-for-profit People Pathways organization in constructing a 2.6-mile smooth packed stone section of the Putnam Nature Trail. Buzzi Unicem USA staff and People Pathways completed installation over a former railroad bed (aka "rails-to-trails" project) and improved the trail with native trees and prairie vegetation, interpretive signage, benches, birdhouses and other features. 

The Buzzi Unicem Festus Plant won the 2019 Safety Innovation Award in Pyro-processing for their Automated Clinker Cooler Sampler.  The Sampler system is designed as a simple singleaction tray sampler that is hydraulically operated to capture clinker discharged from the kiln. Once the device collects clinker it deposits the sample into a chute by means of a pusher plate, where it is then conveyed to the clinker analyzer.  This automated system eliminates the need for manual collection from the clinker cooler itself.