The Monitor

Production Process Insights

A Game Changer: Automatic Sampling in Cement Processes

Posted by Tod Myers on 3/1/21 8:00 AM

Automatic Sampling in Cement Plants

Improving plant performance efficiency requires cement processes to be monitored closely using fewer plant personnel. That's where automatic process sampling can help improve your efficiency and profitability.

Running an efficient cement operation requires analysis of controlled, real-time data obtained through reliable and repeatable process sampling. With accurate monitoring and measuring, cement plant operators can get the critical insights they need to control and optimize their processes. This can lead to improved product quality and regulatory compliance while giving insight into when and where to make process adjustments.

Cement sampling challenges

Cement sampling is often manual using a batch method, such as a hand shovel or scoop, or with automated batch samplers provided by the plant designer. In both cases, the sample's quality (how well the sample represents the process) and ease of use (if the operator takes the sample at the appropriate time) are suspect.

Since multiple ingredients go into making cement, a plant has numerous locations where sampling could be conducted. This can lead to high labor costs for various manual sample locations and a lack of composite sampling because operators can't fully isolate specific materials at specific times. Additionally, direct sampling methods are usually messy and dangerous.

Automatic sampling to the rescue

Automatic samplers can improve cement sample quality by providing a representative sample taken at the appropriate time while reducing operator workload.

More Representative of the Process. In most cases, cement applications' samplers take small, incremental samples of the flow stream to provide an integrated composite sample. A composite sample is statistically and empirically more representative of the process than a single grab or batch sample.

Eliminate Variability. Samplers that are automated using PLCs or DCS systems are repeatable, eliminate human bias and do the same action every time they operate. By taking human variability out of the sampling equation, the resulting samples are much more consistent and representative of the process.

More Samples for Less Cost. Since automatic samplers are programmed to repeat the sampling function as often as necessary and in conjunction with the process, more samples can be taken within the same period than samples being taken by an operator.

More Flexible. Automated samplers can be integrated with weighing systems, motor or belt speeds or other product flow measuring systems. These samplers can actuate proportionally to changing product flow rates. Samplers can also be re-programmed for variable process configurations.

Higher Quality Product. Automatic process sampling helps plant operators ensure the quality of the finished cement product:

  • 325 mesh/45 micron (94% passing)
  • Blaine – determines the total surface area in square cm per gram of cement
  • Chemistry
  • Archiving samples

Cement Plant Sampling Solutions

Concrete and cement are sampled in many forms to ensure product quality and safety. Typical sampling points include:

  • Raw meal before storage
  • Raw meal line after crusher
  • Clinker after the cooler
  • Additives
  • Gypsum
  • Fly ash
  • Slag
  • Finished cement

An automatic sampler takes these samples on a vertical or sloped gravity discharge chute, a straight-sided or sloped hopper, vertical or horizontal pneumatic conveying lines, screw, belt, or drag conveyors, air slides and most kinds of process equipment.

A tube sampler is typically mounted at a 45-degree angle off the equipment, while a tube-and-auger sampler can be mounted horizontally. Therefore, if both samplers work for the application and space is at a premium, the most likely choice is the tube-and-auger sampler.

A cross-cut sampler with a pelican diverter takes up more space than the other samplers. Because its housing needs to be large enough to contain the pelican diverter on each side of the equipment component it's attached to, it will be at least twice as wide as the component. It also requires a lot of vertical flange space.

A sample collection carousel (IC cabinet) can be employed to take up to 24 samples during the day.

Sentry cement sampling equipment ensures cement process samples are repeatable and reliable every time. Our equipment automatically and safely take samples at fixed time intervals to deliver uniform and consistent samples that eliminate human error, reduce the risk of material dusting or spillage, and eliminate time-consuming manual sampling processes.

Learn more about Sentry sampling solutions for the cement industry here.

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Topics: Cement, Solids & Powder

Written by Tod Myers