The Power of Collaboration: Solving Hopper Clogging in Cement Manufacturing with PE Sheets
Publish On 07, May 2018 | The Power of Collaboration: Solving Hopper Clogging in Cement Manufacturing with PE Sheets
In the business world, collaboration between companies can create a synergy that leads to enhanced sustainability and stability. The same goes for the collaboration between the Siam Cement (Kaeng Khoi) Co., Ltd., SCG Chemicals, and Aeroklas where the unexpected convergence between “plastic” and “steel” led to a novel solution to the issue of hopper clogging in a cement plant.
The Inception of the Collaboration
Mr. Ekawat Vitoorapakorn, Managing Director of Aeroklas, stated that the collaboration flourished naturally as his company and SCG Chemicals appeared to share a sense of mutual understanding, trust, and confidence in the project they were about to embark on.
“We could see SCG Chemicals’ strong determination and the positive vibes, which gave us confidence. Innovators often share a similar mindset; we strive to rise to challenges and open up new opportunities, which are the first step for further collaboration. If the chemistry is right, then the collaboration will be a fun enterprise.”
And thus began the collaboration between SCG Chemicals and Aeroklas, in which the former’s high quality plastic was manufactured into PE sheets in the cutting-edge factory of the latter.
Mr. Attawut Kumkrong, Open Innovation-Partnership Management of SCG Chemicals, said that the project aimed to create new applications for macromolecular PE plastic. Once made aware of the chronic problem of hopper clogging at Kaeng Khoi cement plant which had resisted numerous solutions, SCG Chemicals proposed the idea of using PE sheets to line the steel hoppers in the plant. Thanks to full cooperation of the maintenance, production, and production support department of the plant, the operation was a roaring success.
Aeroklas, on the other hand, was responsible for extruding and cutting plastic sheets to the right sizes and adjusting the properties of the sheets. Thanks to their willingness to listen to the differences between the new plastic and the one they had been using, the company was able to reduce waste in the production, run the operation more efficiently, and successfully produce PE sheets that met the requirements and were ready for use.
“The hoppers previously in use in the plant were made from metal sheets. The common problem was that they clogged up very easily when the material was exposed to moisture, which not only affected the quality of the raw meal and the clinkers but also meant downtime required to unclog the hoppers.” said Nattavut Intarode, Production Promotion Department Manager of the Siam Cement (Kaeng Khoi) Co., Ltd. “However, after we ran a pilot project and installed PE sheets in the limestone hoppers in Raw Mill 3, the clogging no longer occurred. The sheets allowed the material to flow continuously without the need to shake the hoppers. We haven’t experienced any clogging in two years.”
After over two years, the PE sheets are still in good condition. This innovation has also been piloted in Siam Cement’s Thung Song plan, with plans to further expand its use to other production lines in the Kaeng Khoi plant where clogging often occurs in the pipe.
Benefits for All Parties
Overall, it can be said that this collaboration has benefited the entire value chain, from the polymer manufacturer and the processing plant to end users.
Through this collaborative project, SCG Chemicals has been given an opportunity to rise to new challenges and continue to generate new applications of its products, which in turn helps expand its business opportunities.
As for Aeroklas, previously a producer of auto accessories from PE sheets, this collaboration has enabled them to break into new markets such as industrial businesses, allowing them to enjoy more business opportunities and further expand towards new lines of products.
“A good collaboration is a win-win situation. Everyone involved must benefit from it, and everything must be done to ensure that,” Attawut stressed while discussing the notion of collaboration. “In addition, a good collaborative project also requires a discussion of shared goals as well as the roles and responsibilities of each party. Everyone should bring their expertise and specialized knowledge to the table to share with the others to create desired results and maximize benefits.”
Collaboration cannot succeed without full cooperation from each side. It is a partnership aimed at generating solutions that best address the needs of customers as well as enhance their competitive capacity and that of end users for mutual sustainable success of all parties.