Boral Cement, a leading building materials company, is enhancing its sustainability and reducing its dependency on fossil fuels by using processed industrial recoverable materials as part of the fuel mix to provide heat energy to the kiln at its Berrima cement works, south-west of Sydney.
The solid waste-derived fuels (SWDF) project relies on a fully automated 12t Konecranes materials handling crane to safely and efficiently handle processed recovered material.
“This processed recovered material is delivered by truck from Tier 1 resource recovery facilities in Sydney, and the Konecranes Waste-to-Energy (WtE) handling crane moves material into hoppers that feed into a conveyor belt system that transports it to the rotary cement kiln,” explains David Spears, Principal Project Manager of Boral Cement’s SWDF project. “If the hoppers are full, the crane moves the material to a temporary storage area.
“Important to the success of the SWDF project is having the right material handling equipment. In addition to having the right technology, the experienced service and support from Konecranes was a major factor in our decision to employ their technology.”
Boral’s Berrima cement works employs more than 145 people and supplies more than 60 per cent of NSW and the ACT’s cement products.
“Sustainability is one of our core values at Boral,” says Spears. “The company particularly looks for initiatives that support our objective of delivering zero harm to employees and visitors, as well as initiatives that provide both an environmental and a cost benefit. The efficiency of the Konecranes WtE-handling crane lined up with all of these objectives.”
The crane has a specialised grab attachment that can pick up 10m3 of processed recovered material at a time. With the light fuel material densities at the Berrima cement works, it picks up approximately 4t with each full load.
“The Berrima cement works produces Portland cement and the process requires measured quantities of specific materials such as limestone, shale and iron that are blended together, ground to a fine power and fused together at a very high temperature in a rotary kiln,” says Spears. “This fused material is referred to as clinker. Previously, the main fuel used for this heating process was coal, but Boral is always striving for ways to be operationally competitive and more sustainable.
“The SWDF facility is designed to offset up to 30 per cent of our annual coal usage, which makes a significant difference to the environment, and to operational efficiency.
“Materials that would have gone to landfill are now being used as fuel, which contributes to a reduced environmental impact, and provides us with a reduction in manufacturing costs as well. It’s truly a win-win situation.”
To feed a kiln that constantly requires fuel to generate heat, the crane operates 24/7, without needing an operator. Everything is monitored from a central control-room.
“We set ourselves demanding production targets, as we always strive to enhance our competitiveness, so an efficient and automated crane is a major benefit to our operations,” says Spears.
“There’s a natural learning curve with such an advanced crane, especially in setting up the operating parameters, layout and engineering options. Konecranes provided us with a dedicated industry specialist, who was a great help. He helped us achieve the best and most efficient outcome.
“With such a specialised crane, we are also looking to Konecranes for the ongoing service and maintenance, to ensure optimised crane lifecycle and minimal disruptions to our SWDF facility’s operations.”
With the success of the SWDF project, Boral is already looking to the future and examining the possibilities of further enhancing sustainability and operational objectives with resource recoverable-derived fuels.
“Our coal offset project is a major part of our Berrima Cement Works’ sustainability and we believe this project is a benefit to the community,” says Spears. “We are already talking with Konecranes about potential further expansion, to offset even more coal in the future.”
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