February 23 2007 - Ref No: PR1253

A recent upgrade at the Obourg (Belgium) facility of Holcim, one of the world’s leading cement producers, has seen the production plant move to an automated laboratory for the routine analysis of cement composition and particle size. The system of choice for particle characterization was the Insitec ALISS from Malvern Instruments, which is now installed and is delivering routine process analysis with negligible manual input. The instrument was purchased by Holcim France Benelux1 as part of an agreement with Malvern to supply two Insitec ALISS systems for use at sites in Belgium and six Insitec on-line systems for facilities in France.

At Holcim’s Obourg plant, all aspects of particle size measurement are fully automated. At the heart of the automated laboratory is a robot which receives both clinker and cement samples, prepares them for analysis and transports them to the appropriate analyzer. The Insitec ALISS requires no sample preparation so the robot simply pours material directly into the analyzer; measurement of the 80 g sample is complete in under one minute. Integration with the plant control system allows the resulting data to drive the empirical models used for control of the plant and process.

Commenting on the company’s decision to purchase an Insitec ALISS, Stéphanie Verhaeghe, Quality Control Manager at Holcim said: “We have always enjoyed exemplary service support from both Malvern Instruments and Goffin Meyvis, the company’s supplier in Benelux, and our existing Malvern analyzer performed well over many years. The Insitec ALISS has some great features for our application, including abrasion-resistant internals designed specifically to withstand continuous use with materials like cement, and highly polished surfaces that reduce any requirement for cleaning. The instrument has performed well since installation, working 24/7 with negligible attention.

The award-winning Insitec ALISS is a laser diffraction-based analyzer designed for manual or automated particle size measurement within the process environment. Impervious to vibration or dust in the surroundings it is simple to use allowing at-line analysis to become a routine part of process operation. Integral software facilitates communication with existing control platforms and allows results presentation to be customized to meet user requirements.

1Holcim France Benelux belongs to the Holcim Group, one of the world’s leading producers of cement, aggregates, concrete and construction-related services.