Cemex wins through accuracy: Smarter, faster inventory tracking powered by Propeller

Cemex, a global industry leader in cement, ready-mix concrete, mineral raw materials, and concrete additives, operates from its headquarters in Rüdersdorf near Berlin, adjacent to the modern Rüdersdorf cement plant. As part of the “Carbon Neutral Alliance,” the plant aims to produce CO₂-neutral cement by 2030.

We interviewed Friedrich Bayer and Romano Hirsch, who shared how Cemex increased operational efficiency and process accuracy with Propeller. Friedrich Bayer, Division Manager for Operation Services is responsible for strategic direction, profit, and cost accountability at Cemex. While he introduced drones to the business, Romano Hirsch, Coordinator for Continuous Improvement, trained employees across plants to operate drones independently, driving adoption. 

Challenges before Propeller

Prior to adopting Propeller, Cemex relied on manual processes and lacked digitalization. Stockpile inventories, conducted annually by external providers, were laborious and costly. Outdated aerial imagery from Google posed challenges, and internal inventories, based on rough estimates, led to inaccuracies.

Restructuring the inventory process

Initially, Cemex opted for open-source software for data processing, but encountered significant time constraints and scalability issues. Upon transitioning to a competitor’s software, they ultimately selected Propeller for its precision in volume calculations and cost-effectiveness compared to other options on the market.

“We chose Propeller because we quickly realized that the technology worked and offered exactly the functions we needed,” says Friedrich Bayer.

Propeller in action

Propeller has enabled Cemex to enhance workflows across multiple domains, including internal product inventory management, technical equipment recording, site analysis, and monitoring overburden activities for approval processes. 

Romano Hirsch notes, “previously, we relied on the plant manager’s information and experience. With Propeller, monitoring overburden activity documentation has become more accurate and verifiable.” 

He goes on to illustrate Propeller’s effectiveness at Cemex with a practical example from daily operations: “Using Propeller, our team pinpointed an inventory discrepancy and corrected inventory continuity errors with precision. The timeline feature in Propeller facilitated retrospective analysis, enabling us to track inventory progress accurately.” This capability empowers the team to efficiently address discrepancies, leading to enhanced inventory management and increased process accuracy.

This advancement has facilitated more precise and transparent inventories, crucial for audit purposes. But the benefits don’t stop there — Cemex has also experienced secondary benefits ranging from time savings to improved occupational safety. The drone can be controlled remotely, which means that dangerous areas no longer need to be entered, especially in the stockpile area. This significantly reduces the risk of accidents and injuries, thus ensuring the safety of employees.

Digital replica of the plant leads to improved accuracy and transparency at Cemex

Propeller is a cloud-based workspace where project teams come together to map, measure and manage activities using survey data. Using the platform, different teams at Cemex can easily track production from a central location.

“Implementing Propeller has effectively created a digital replica of our plant, enabling us to conduct volume calculations, plant state comparisons, and measurements— all without leaving our office chairs,” remarks Friedrich Bayer.

In addition to improved internal communication, stockpile inventories have also become more accurate and transparent, which is particularly important for auditing. “Thanks to Propeller, our inventories are now extremely precise, ensuring audit integrity,” Bayer emphasizes. 

Time savings through optimized processes

The implementation of Propeller has saved Cemex around three to four hours per inventory compared to the previous manual process. “It used to take us an average of four hours to collect data for a stockpile inventory. With Propeller’s drone workflow, we can now capture and upload the data within an hour. We then receive the processed data back from Propeller in less than 24 hours and can start with the evaluations,” reports Friedrich Bayer. 

This time saving allows the team to use their resources more efficiently and concentrate on other important tasks.

Future vision and recommendations

The implementation of Propeller at Cemex has yielded substantial improvements in efficiency, accuracy, and safety, underscoring the company’s commitment to digital innovation.

“I encourage everyone to explore drone technology. Embrace the benefits with an open mind,” advises Friedrich Bayer. “While legal regulations may seem daunting initially, solutions exist for every challenge. The long-term benefits are invaluable.”

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