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Blog May 2020

Smart optimisation provides cement producers both agility and efficiency

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Jan Tønder Intelligent Optimization Solution Advisor

Smart optimisation provides cement producers both agility and efficiency

Reducing costs while at the same time improving customer service. This seems to be a challenge but with to the use of state-of-the-art technology it’s actually easier than expected. AMCS Intelligent Optimisation uses smart algorithms to calculate enormous amounts of data at lightning speed enabling companies to efficiently plan routes in real-time. This is evident from several practical examples from the cement industry. They show that with smart optimisation cement companies can centralise planning and create a stress-free working environment. Additionally, they need fewer vehicles for the same distribution routes and with this, they both lower their environmental impact and contribute to sustainability.

The system calculates which site is the most efficient to deliver from

Tens of vehicles and a huge team of planners. For cement producers who mainly handle order entry and planning manually, this is a recognizable situation. This can often result in unnecessary high transport costs. To implement a cost reduction process, it is of the utmost importance that companies can continue to provide their customers with the same high level of service. Especially because cement is delivered according to the just-in-time principle. Therefore, delivery accuracy and efficient handling of urgent orders are crucial. The solution to this challenge is AMCS Intelligent Optimisation, a standard solution for real-time route planning, transportation optimisation and dispatching of routes.

The powerful and user-friendly system helps companies achieve agility and efficiency in highly demanding and dynamic planning environments. With this, it enables the cement industry to cut operational costs, improve the level of customer service and free up resources in the planning department. With this, the system boosts customer service. As soon as an order is received, the system immediately calculates which site is the cheapest to deliver from. With the real-time data exchange the planning engine knows all vehicle positions and qualifications at any one time, as well as the vehicles’ distances to the sites. As a result, the planner is easily able to choose the optimal vehicle for order fulfilment.

One efficient centralised planning for several regions

The daily planning starts when the system automatically generates the base plan for the next day’s routes. Since the automatic planning feature is incredibly fast there is a complete overview of the plan in no time. After that, the planners new and last-minute orders are optimised. This eliminates late or forgotten deliveries. AMCS Intelligent Optimisation provides the cement industry with the possibility of a new distribution set-up. For instance, the operation can blur the lines between the previously divided regions with one centralised planning operation that covers everything.

This brings transparency between the regions and also makes it possible to plan across districts while maintaining a complete overview of all the orders and deliveries. Vehicles are no longer restricted to the same plant for every pick-up but can move freely between them for the fastest and most efficient route. Due to the end-to-end integration, both planning and dispatching orders are sent to local plants automatically. Cement companies can also work with order booking in time slots instead of locking the plan. Plans can then be reshuffled based on the latest data and decisions can be delayed as much as possible, for instance, to book a last-minute order. This creates a much more agile distribution and a more customer-friendly operation.

One of the other significant benefits of AMCS Intelligent Optimisation and centralising the planning is that it creates a stress-free working environment, as well as a reduction both of driving time and kilometres driven. Also, there is less staff needed to do the same amount of work. Other important benefits include a reduction in “empty runs”, break-up of rigid planning regions, automatic warnings and faster response times.

“Finally, the solution stores all operational data, so we can export the actual vehicle mileages and driving times. This precise information enables us to pay our contractors accurately. The implementation of the planning tool has been a positive and enjoyable experience, but it has also been quite a shift”, according to Aalborg Portland, one of the cement producers that have been using AMCS Intelligent Optimisation for many years now. “We have moved from a manual, regionally divided planning process to managing everything centrally today, using more automated processes. The solution is very reliable, and this has an enormously positive effect on the operation. We have truly acquired a very powerful and stable planning tool.” 

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