MaterialsCo—Use of EIDI Data in Building Materials Manufacturing

MaterialsCo is a multinational building materials company that manufactures cement and other construction materials worldwide. MaterialsCo employs more than 30,000 people worldwide.

Creating a Single Version of the Truth on a Global Scale

After using PI Systems in numerous cement plants in the late 1990s, MaterialsCo successfully deployed PI Systems in all their cement plants plus several grinding plants worldwide. The initial goal was to provide global visibility into the operations of all facilities. This program was called PIMS (Plant Information Management System). Specifically, MaterialsCo realized they needed to deploy a single unifying platform that integrated and analyzed real-time operations and production data in order to achieve operational intelligence for continuous improvement. They then developed a program that aligned technology initiatives with strategic business goals.

After prioritizing use cases that impact business the most, MaterialsCo decided on the following five initiatives:

  • 1. Provide accurate, reliable information from the dozens of sites to knowledge workers.
  • 2. Enable global standards for process analysis and production reporting.
  • 3. Improve product quality through a standardized methodology to store quality data from many types of legacy laboratory systems.


Typical cement manufacturing company use cases that consume EIDI data for business analytics, quality control, and compliance reporting for purposes of continuous improvement.

  • 4. Reduce energy and maintenance costs through a CBM program to improve asset health.
  • 5. Provide a standard platform for emissions monitoring.

Figure 8.4 illustrates the types of use cases and applications that a typical cement manufacturing company implements.

During the first phase of the process, the MaterialsCo team set out to standardize information across their global organization. They had many plants with different laboratory equipment, control systems, and operating practices. OSIsoft's PI System had been used in several of the plants, but those sites acted independently, using the software to meet its individual needs. Because the PI System had helped these plants achieve their goals, the company made plans to standardize the PI System software as the corporate-wide time-series data infrastructure. This decision was made in order to standardize plant work processes, provide enterprise visibility by their enterprise software integration, and significantly improve collaboration among the MaterialsCo plant sites. It took about three years to deploy the PI System across their cement plants and grinding plants, and then several more years to complete the initial use cases just described.

They started their journey by standardizing things such as data stream naming conventions and online calculations. But they ran into a challenge of providing context to the information so that workers in different roles

  • (operators, production managers, maintenance, finance, planning) could access and utilize the information effectively. The PI System's AF capability provided MaterialsCo the ability to define each cement plant with a similar hierarchical data model. This gave them the following advantages:
  • • Providing reusable object templates so that MaterialsCo could build the data structure for one cement plant and easily replicate those configurations for all other cement plants.
  • • Defining common names and common references for plant data point names so they are understood throughout the enterprise.
  • • Building online performance analytics, totalizers, statistics, and so forth, for one plant and replicating those analytics across all cement plants using the object templates.
  • • Creating real-time notification alerts based on dynamic equipment or process behavior, so that employees could make quicker decisions and avert serious problems.
  • • Creating single versions of reports, KPI dashboards, and process displays that can be used by all cement plants through the modular capability of the PI AF software.

Once the PI Systems were deployed across the enterprise, employees began using the information for analysis, reporting, problem solving, and decision-making. As a result, people started to ask more questions and requested additional data for additional analysis. Supporting requests from 70 production sites and regional offices turned out to be a challenging task. So MaterialsCo established a standardized set of production and operations reports. This eliminated the need for individual spreadsheets that duplicated the same purpose, developed by employees moving from one plant to another. By standardizing reports, MaterialsCo eliminated redundant data efforts.

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