How Cemex uses data analytics in the power generation business

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Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Data analytics and industrial internet of things applications have been key components in Mexican cement manufacturer Cemex's entry into the power generation market.

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Since 1998 Cemex has embarked on various power generation initiatives, such as the development of wind farms. The company currently operates two wind farms in Mexico, each with an installed capacity of 250MW.

Roberto Medrano, operations and maintenance manager at Cemex Energía, said during a presentation in Mexico City that the company decided to create an energy division in 2014 to take advantage of its assets and become a player in Mexico's energy market.

Cemex sought long-time supplier OSIsoft, an IT company specialized in industrial solutions, to design and install a platform to assist in the management of its power generation assets. The resulting system is based on OSIsoft's PI interface and allows each turbine in both of Cemex's wind farms to be monitored in real time.

The solution can monitor elements such as voltage, electric currents and harmonics, and chart these together to give operators an overview of the farm's power production.

Medrano gave a presentation on how the solution works for each turbine, displaying speed, temperature, failure rate and power output. The platform also uses an algorithm designed by Cemex that measures a turbine's power curve.

Cemex can also carry out diagnostics on power production and asset health, as the system generates daily and monthly reports. "These are particularly useful, as they help design plans to deliver the agreed electric power to our off-takers. The information in the power output allows us to know whether we are complying with the authorities' quality rules for the electric system," said the executive.

The reports are also used for predictive maintenance, thus reducing downtime. Medrano underscored that the turbines do not have condition monitoring systems, so the farms rely on OSIsoft's platform to evaluate their state.

According to Medrano, Cemex will seek more off-takers and clients who need detailed asset management to comply with the grid quality rules. In addition, the company will integrate 3,500 sensors into the platform to improve measurements and diagnostics.

Even though Cemex has not estimated the return on investment from the OSIsoft system, Medrano said the company measures its success based on feedback from clients.