With 17 modern cement factories and more than 50 ready mixed concrete plants, ACC Limited, a Mumbai-based cement manufacturer, has a vast distribution network of over 9,000 dealers and a countrywide spread of sales offices. Since its inception in 1936, the company has always been a trendsetter and has set benchmarks in cement and concrete technology.
Even though cement companies have the capability to dispatch over thousands of trucks every day, they always have difficulty in doing it efficiently and making the most out of their production unit. ACC is a case in point.
Weighbridges play a significant role in cement manufacturing factories, providing valuable data for incoming and outgoing vehicles, as well as for bulk cement loading activities. Earlier ACC Limited used to have weighbridges, which were operated by two personnel per shift, and there were instances of wrong weight capture or no weight capture. Because of that there was a delay in weighing operation due to heavy rush of vehicles. Also, there were instances of security and safety hazards.
Rajiv Kumar Singla, Head IT Services at ACC Limited, says “Earlier we had two people operating the weighing bridge, who were involved in weighing, recording the information and preparing the documents, which was a slow and not so accurate a process.In a nutshell, there was an urgent requirement to improve the dispatching and logistic processes in our factories.”
To address these challenges, ACC came up with a world class dispatching and logistics solution—unmanned weighbridge operation. Automated weighbridges were customized to meet the requirements of the company, providing the necessary tools and equipment for the complete automation of functional areas, such as identification, access control, loading/ unloading raw materials, weighing, and dispatching.
The implementation of the solution was completed in the beginning of last year. The company decided to convert the manned weighbridge to an unmanned, automated weighbridge with smooth data flow. The project included installing of Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tags on each of truck entering the premises. The attached sensors would read the information from the RFID tags and take action.
With the automated weighing bridge, the truck driver performs the loading/unloading process in a self-service mode by interacting with the system components. Once the truck enters the factory, the driver goes to one of the entry weighbridges and identifies himself, where the system registers the initial weight with the help of positioning sensors. Once the traffic light turns green the driver proceeds forward and goes to the indicated loading/unloading area to perform the operation. Post that, the driver goes to the exit weighbridge where the system registers the final weight and then prints the necessary documents. All the information is automatically synchronized to ensure that the data is accurate.
Singla says, “The trucks are weighed automatically and the results are displayed on a PC monitor. The driver gets the corresponding printout and for further reporting, the data is also recorded in our system. This minimizes mistakes, offers protection of data, and increased vehicle throughput.”
ACC’s unmanned weighbridge system is a standalone system that allows 24 hours and 7 days a week of weighing operations without the need of an operator. Due to the system’s easy interface, it can easily be operated by the truck driver.
Since the implementation, ACC has been able to minimize human interference and reduce the likelihood of error and fraud.
Singla says, “We have deployed an automated process, which helped us in reducing the manpower from four personnel to zero. With such implementation, we were able to plug the leakage in terms of overweighing. The turnaround time of the trucks improved by 60 percent, i.e. from an hour to 15 minutes. Along with it, the number of dispatched trucks has also increased.”