The Innovation & Technical Development Award at this years’ Rail Freight Group Awards was given to CEMEX for its Emulate3D modelling project that maximised each train load coming out of its Dove Holes Quarry.
CEMEX is a global building solutions company and leading supplier of cement, ready-mixed concrete and aggregates. CEMEX employs around 2200 people in the UK with over 20 quarries. Their capacity is impressive not only in scale but also in terms of logistical capability; delivering throughout the UK by road, rail, sea and inland water.
One of their quarries, Dove Holes Quarry in Buxton, supplies multiple product lines including Limestone Aggregates, Asphalt, Readymix, Concrete products and Dry Silo Mortar. As well as major road links, Dove Holes also has direct access to a Network Rail mainline on which it transports products throughout the UK.
To monitor and test the utilisation, loading and scheduling of the Dove Holes rail operation in a digital environment, CEMEX has acquired Emulate3D from AutoLogic Systems.
Rail use at CEMEX Dove Holes Quarry
The CEMEX trains are loaded at two locations, either a loading wall or hopper, and pull up to 26 hopper wagons. Approximately 40 trains depart Dove Holes each week, transporting up to18 different products. A single trainload will make over 200 trips for CEMEX each year; the equivalent of over 20,000 truckloads.
The rail network also comprises two sidings where trains are stored awaiting allocated departure times on to the mainline, or to be manoeuvred into the quarry for loading.
Why create a digital twin?
The transport of product by rail is of ever-increasing importance to CEMEX as they look to make operations as sustainable as possible. Rail is a far more environmentally friendly method of transport than trucks on the road, as a train burns significantly less fuel per ton-mile than road vehicles, saving around 50% in CO2 emissions.
With multiple products, loading sites and sidings, the rail provision at Dove Holes is complex. CEMEX were keen to ensure they were maximising each train load as well as creating operational efficiencies when loading and moving the trains onsite.
By creating a digital replica of the plants rail network, CEMEX would be able to not only monitor and fully understand their existing schedules and utilisation but also test for new configurations that could allow them to further optimise their load fill and operations.
CEMEX selected Emulate3D as the best 3D modelling software for their needs. Emulate3D from AutoLogic Systems enables companies to develop, test, and produce robust control systems offline, without the constraints of site work, and before a real system is even built.
AutoLogic Systems built a replica 3D model of the Dove Holes plant on which CEMEX can watch every element of their rail operation, all in real time.
Improved utilisation and capacity
The 3D model of Dove Holes runs from the individual products being stored in the hoppers, right through to the trains being moved around the railyard and sidings in time for departure.
CEMEX is able to view the loading rates and utilisation of the hoppers and wagons throughout the day, week and even month ahead. This allows them to understand where they are operating at full capacity and where they might have spare capacity to optimise the load further.
Mark Grimshaw-Smith, Head of Rail & Sea at CEMEX says: “We now have a very clear understanding of the utilisation of our hoppers, wagons and trains and can plan our schedules so much better. We can avoid any bottlenecks or anticipate any issues in advance. Most importantly we are optimising each and every load consistently throughout each day, eliminating any waste and enabling our operators to work more efficiently.
“We can also test new processes, products and schedules all in a safe offline environment. Being able to see the knock-on effect of even the slightest change in operations without causing any down time to the plant is invaluable.”
“Emulate3D has given us the ability to get a true overview and analysis of our entire rail operation and where we can deliver more efficiencies to our plant, team and environment.”