» Process Improvements

Process Improvements

Process Improvements

03 jun

Mirion Technologies has successfully installed its Spyrometer kiln camera systems at Adelaide Brighton’s Angaston and Birkenhead cement plants. The equipment order will enable the Australian cement producer to reduce its fuel usage and better monitor its free lime control leading to higher quality clinker.

The recent installation of new Spyrometer® kiln camera systems at Adelaide Brighton Cement’s plants at Angaston and Birkenhead have allowed process optimisations to be developed, leading to improved product quality, and associated benefits at a very opportune time, following recent Australian government announcements to penalise CO2 outputs.

Adelaide Brighton Cement’s special products facility is located in the Barossa Valley, some 80km north of Adelaide. Being located within this prime wine region adds extra responsibility to use world’s best practices to ensure the efficient running of the kiln processes.

Adelaide Brighton has observed noticeable benefits from the installation of a new Spyrometer system from Mirion Technologies®. Following a successful installation of a M214 system at the Birkenhead plant in 2009, Mirion has supplied the latest M215 version system to the Angaston plant as part of a kiln optimisation programme.

The company contracted HiTemp Vision Pty Ltd of Winmalee, NSW in May 2011 to install a new Mirion M215 Spyrometer kiln camera system on one of the Angaston plant kilns as a tool to further assist in the running of the process. The primary aim of the installation was to reduce fuel usage (by avoiding over burning) as well as helping to reduce plant emissions.

Updated camera and processor

The Spyrometer system has always been a market-leading product for kiln monitoring. Mirion Technologies has now released an updated version of the camera and processor units, which give users even higher reliability levels and additional screen displays to maximise the amount of data, which can be displayed to the operators.

The M555 kiln camera has recently been developed and improved to incorporate fewer internal parts and the electronics have been updated and improved. The M215 processor unit now operates under a Microsoft® Windows 7® operating system and incorporates short and long term trending, to allow operators to easily monitor stability of the kiln.

Accessibility of the data has also been developed, with direct access to the Spyrometer application’s database using ODBC now possible as standard. Real-time data is also available via temperature signalling over Ethernet, for significantly enhanced plant control system integration.

The new Spyrometer system was installed by Mirion’s official representative for Imaging Systems, HiTemp Vision Pty Ltd of Winmalee, NSW. HiTemp Vision’s managing director, Mr Warwick Coghlan commented “We have been working with Spyrometer systems for many years and we are really impressed with the ease of installation of this latest version. The M215 user interface is simple to configure and gives the operator immediate results on exactly what they want to measure. The new zoom facility for the M215’s screen image allows areas of interest to be highlighted easily, allowing a more detailed view of any potential issues to be quickly obtained. The ability to connect the system temperature readings directly into the plant DCS enables the kiln process engineer to quickly develop a correlation between the temperature of the kiln and the chemistry results.”

One of the key strengths of the Spyrometer system is the ease of installation and the fast commissioning that can be achieved. Getting the new system up and running quickly at the Angaston plant was very important to Adelaide Brighton Cement.

Free lime control

Senior project engineer at Angaston, Aloysius Balendra commented: “Free lime is one of the quality measures we pay a lot of attention to and we have been able to reduce variability and maintain good levels of free lime since the installation of the Spyrometer system. Off-white clinker manufactured at Angaston plant is harder to burn and there is a tendency to operate the kiln hotter than optimal and risk over burning the kiln. There was clear evidence that operating the kiln at less than one per cent free lime for extended periods results in ring formation. Now we can control the free limes better and the mean time between ring shoots has significantly reduced.”

As well as giving a clear video image of the kiln feed, the latest version of the Spyrometer system now also provides an output for a second monitor screen showing a graph display of short term trends in the key process temperatures. Data outputs from the system can easily link into plant-wide data analysis packages to share and process the information. Birkenhead has linked its Spyrometer system into an existing control system for kiln optimisation.

Angaston control room screens

Due to the method of operation of the Spyrometer, temperatures are not as influenced by other factors, compared to traditional fixed pyrometers. Aloysius Balendra confirms how the kiln operators gain the benefits from this: “The reliability and repeatability of the Spyrometer temperatures has allowed the operators to clearly analyse the association between burning zone temperature and chemistry results. This has allowed a reduction in the running temperature of the kiln resulting in both a reduction in ring formation as well as a more stable range of free lime. They have now derived a ‘sweet spot’ temperature of clinker at the nose-ring which results in optimum product chemistry.”

By having a real time visual image of the nose ring and burning zone, as well as both actual current temperatures and historical trends, the process operators feel more in tune with conditions within the kiln, and are able to react quicker to instabilities that may occur. The Quality Control department has also commented that variability has reduced resulting in improved end-product quality results.

A high reliability of temperature measurements from the kiln has always been a key feature of the Spyrometer system. The latest developments now make the data even easier to access, resulting in faster operator adoption and acceptance times. This means that the process energy savings and resulting benefits can be made very quickly after the initial system installation.

Even the Spyrometer camera itself has been redesigned with energy saving in mind. Advances in the technology of the electronics has allowed Mirion engineers to redesign 90 per cent of the internal electronics, resulting in a lower electrical power consumption, but more importantly a large reduction in the amount of cooling air required by the new M555 camera. With the high costs of instrument air preparation, both in terms of capital cost and energy usage, this is another annual saving from which users of the new system are benefitting.


In summary, Adelaide Brighton Cement has been able to gain immediate benefits from the installation of a new M215 Spyrometer system which have enabled them to control free lime levels, reduce instances of over-burning and reduce the likelihood of unwanted ring formation in the kiln.

All of this contributes towards an overall production efficiency improvement, which is vital in these challenging times and markets.


by Geoff Sagar,
Mirion Technologies
(Imaging Systems Division), UK

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