What happens when big data meets big cement

What happens when big data meets big cement
OSIsoft’s PI System helps building materials company reduce the time taken to extract data 

Toby Ingleton |

This article first appeared in the Spring 2018 issue of The Record.

CEMEX is the world’s second largest building materials company, operating a total of 71 production sites in 50 countries. Recognising the power of gaining insights from big data, CEMEX embarked on a data democratisation project that would enable employees to merge different sources of information – such as maintenance and financial data – to better understand how factory floor changes impact the overall business. CEMEX opted to use the data capabilities in its existing OSIsoft PI System from Microsoft partner OSIsoft.

“We started out in a single cement plant, but throughout the years we have been setting different objectives for operations…to drive operational improvement, to optimise cost…and to provide reliable data to decision makers,” said Rodrigo Quintero, director of Enterprise Risk Management at CEMEX. “The PI System has always been there as a key element to this. It has been the foundation of everything.”

The first step was to gain global visibility of process data and integrate it into transactional systems so plant information could be accessed across all parts of the business. CEMEX added context to that data with OSIsoft’s PI Asset Framework structure and used additional in-house tools to validate it.

To achieve full democratisation, CEMEX developed a template that would extract information from its 70 production sites. On the first attempt, it took up to two months to extract the data and another week to clean it, which meant that it needed updating by the time CEMEX had the results.

To accelerate the process, CEMEX used OSIsoft’s PI Integrator for Business Analytics. The PI Integrator shaped, extracted, calculated and cleaned data before it was moved into a Microsoft SQL Server database for employee analysis. The team received the information in just a few hours and used a simple refresh to update results in five minutes.

Now, CEMEX can measure equipment effectiveness and more accurately monitor variations between sites. Plus, every user can directly extract insights for better decision making. “We are seeing a diminishing trend in our variability,” said Quintero. “So, we have really improved the accuracy and reliability of information.”

In the past, extracting and gathering data for reports from all of CEMEX’s plants could take 744 hours, but now the process takes five minutes. Meanwhile, data preparation has been reduced from three days per month to one minute.

“This has allowed me to do a lot more things, easier and better – to do more with less,” said Quintero.

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