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Friday, May 21, 2021

Republic Cement utilizes Data Science to revolutionize cement manufacturing.

republic cement gizmo manila

  Republic Cement is disrupting the cement industry by using data science and artificial intelligence (DSAI) to cut CO2 emissions and produce stronger and more consistent cement.

  The strength of cement is typically measured only after a 28-day waiting period, wherein samples cast from one batch of cement are molded into cubes, cured, and tested for its strength using a compressive strength testing machine. The compressive strength testing 
machine applies pressure to the cement cube until the sample breaks, making the load or weight at which the sample breaks the strength of the cement batch.

  Since cement was reinvented in the late 1800s, cement strength has been traditionally determined through this process and projects can only be fully certain of a cement batch’s strength and quality after this 28-day test. This is done to ensure that the quality of the cement used will lead to safe and strong structures that conform to Philippine National Standards as well as the standards required by the project. While the process is a commonly accepted practice, Republic Cement posed the questions: What if we can eliminate this wait time? How would it affect the manufacturing process, the customer’s projects, and the cement industry as a whole?

Data Science Tool to Instantly Predict Cement Strength

  To begin working towards this, Republic Cement put in place a comprehensive data infrastructure to collect relevant data about the various states and chemical compounds present in cement across the whole manufacturing process and identifying its qualities after curing for 28 days. Further to just collecting and digitizing Republic’s data, there was also a need to process this data into relevant information. Up until a year ago, the data was simply sitting in a database with little to no role in decisions that affected the 28-day strength testing results, which largely relied on reactive decisions based on these results.

  The consequences of not having this data to support the cement manufacturing process was the inefficient use of raw materials, which translated to higher costs. This overcompensation is done to ensure that the cement meets both the Philippine National Standards on 28-day Strength as well as Republic’s own more stringent quality standards.

  In exploring how to turn its data into relevant information, Republic Cement teamed up with the Aboitiz Data Science (ADI) to build an Artificial Intelligence (AI) tool for its cement manufacturing operations. The product is designed as a DSAI application to help operators and quality managers optimize concentrations of raw ingredients in the cement mix by instantly harnessing complex algorithms, thus saving time and resources. The development of the product also led to innovative data-driven adjustments making it important for the company to embed the tool as part of daily operations.

  As of May 2021, two of Republic’s manufacturing plants are now utilizing the AI tool as part of the overall process strategy, yielding positive results. Improvements on the first deployment are also underway, while expansion to all Republic sites is ongoing.

Reduced CO 2 Emissions

  In line with its decades-long commitment to a greener environment, Republic has always sought to reduce CO 2 emissions through manufacturing greener cement. In the manufacturing process, this is done through using alternative fuel that substitutes for non-renewable fuels, continuously upgrading to more energy efficient technologies, and embedding sustainability throughout the manufacturing process.

  Through the application of data science and being able to accurately predict 28-day cement strength, Republic has been able to further optimize its manufacturing process. By better managing its resources, coupled with the increased efficiency of raw materials used in cement production, the company effectively reduces CO 2 emissions while maximizing cement quality and strength. These adjustments, coupled with Republic’s numerous greening initiatives, will also lead to more sustainable operations in the long term.

Getting Stronger Cement Faster for Build, Build, Build

  Through the application of DSAI and streamlining operations, Republic is able to optimize production to better provide for the country’s cement requirements. In line with the current administration’s infrastructure push through the Build, Build, Build Program, projects will now be able to commence projects without having to wait for the 28-day strength testing period. Customers are now assured of the cement’s strength immediately upon production thanks to Data Science.

By buying locally manufactured cement, consumers inject three times more into the local economy than when buying imported cement products. This is particularly crucial as the country works towards its recover after the negative economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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