The race for data

Press Review

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This article was published in the November issue of International Cement Review in 2016.

Modern cement production and processes generate data at an ever-increasing speed. Some of that data can be used as alternative fuel to drive the efficiency of cement logistics and transport planning. This article explains how to crush data barriers and get fast access to the right information.

by Dirk Schlemper and Thomas Bergmans, INFORM GmbH, Germany

Many industries are mining data to improve business decision-making. But as with any ‘bulk material’, the handling and loading can be quite costly and time consuming. The right technology is crucial for smooth operations. Buzzwords like ‘big data’, ‘business intelligence’ and ‘analytics’ promise to channel data streams into knowledge, transparency and insights, but the optimisation of processes often requires more than just channelling a flood of data. For those who work under pressure, quick action is needed. Dispatchers in a cement plant, for example, have no time to analyse huge amounts of data to make up their minds. Given the sheer number of possible alternatives, quick and useful decisions are a necessity.

Quick and useful, but how?

This is where intelligent transport optimisation software comes in. It can be used to speed up and optimise decision-making processes in transport planning and operations. Powered by algorithms, the software analyses a virtually endless number of scheduling decisions in realtime and identifies those that are ideal for minimising costs and maximising service quality – based on the business criteria defined. But before the software can analyse data, it has to collect it. There are a number of places and things that generate data, including trucks, loading bays, weighbridges, automatic gates and production machinery. Most areas of a business can contribute data to the ‘stockpile’, including external sources (eg customers).

The set-up in Figure 1 shows a fast and efficient way to connect all sources to the transport optimisation software.

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