Arthur M Harrisson Ltd

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It is rare in clinker making as in many other areas of life, that there is one single solution to a problem.  Cement plants are designed with a certain degree of robustness and modern plants with a considerable amount of information supplied to plant operators.  

And yet the same issues continue to cause downtime or poor quality as they did when I began in the industry almost a third of aCaCO3 century ago.
 Difficulty in reducing free lime, buildup in the kiln inlet or in the preheater, dusty clinker, snowman in the cooler, rhino horn on the burner, unhappy customers....  

Sophisticated though it may be, the information system on a plant will not be able to tell you that the raw material mineralogy is different to when the plant was commissioned.  It probably doesn't know that flint and sand of the same size will not combine in a similar fashion in the kiln.  Generally plant computer systems and indeed plant personnel are not aware of the different solubilities of the eight types of sulphate commonly found in cement and why fairly subtle changes in temperature profiles in the kiln or in the cement mills are the reason that customers are complaining even though the mortar prism results are perfectly in conformity with the standards.

geol mapI have lost count of the number of cement kilns I have seen since 1979 but it must be well into three figures.  Every one of them is different even if of the same design on the same plant and using the same raw feed.  They all have to follow the basic rules, however, those laid down well before cement kilns were built.

My approach is always to look at the basics first and to try to leave aside the folklore and circumstantial evidence which are currency on every plant.  Cement making is not technically difficult compared to some other industries, but it is quite complex and it takes very little to be out of line to affect the whole production and the quality of the product.

My techniques are analysis of the reams of data which generally are too voluminous to be checked by the plant personnel and analysis of the hard evidence.  If there is an issue with a process it will generally be evident in the product, either the clinker or the cement and the trail goes back through the process to the quarry if necessary.

Through my monthly articles in International Cement Review I have described some of the more common issues on cement plants which make the job of cement making more difficult than it might otherwise be.  I can also offer individual analysis for plants with particular difficulties.  For information contact me at:

A Harrisson 2011