ETAP controls power at cement plant in El Salvado

  • November 14, 2013
  • Case Study

November 14, 2013 — Holcim’s Cement plant in El Salvador uses the ETAP Real-Time Intelligent Load Shedding (ILS) system to reduce power outages. The ILS implementation delivered immediate results, bringing better-than-forecasted performance and reliability improvements from the outset. In the year prior to the deployment of ETAP ILS, the facility experienced 20 power outages; over the course of the two-year commissioning and tuning period – required for installation, customization, and system analysis – Holcim experienced just one power event. ETAP was approached by Holcim – El Salvador’s leading company in the production and marketing of cement, concrete and high-quality aggregates – to provide a solution to a slow and unreliable load- shedding system. The plant is connected to the power grid through the Guajoyo Hydroelectric Plant over a 20 km transmission line feeding its substation. As nature and the weather in the region often dictate, the power grid is subjected to heavy rains and lightning strikes from May through October, averaging 20 circuit breaker transmission line trips per month during this period. With Holcim’s power generators running continuously to support a power contract to provide 10 MW of power to the grid to help offset peak loads, these unscheduled outages were proving costly, in addition to compromising the plant’s goals of meeting its own requirements to maintain 18 MW of process load operating 24 hours per day, every day. The plant’s existing load-shedding system was proving to be too slow and limited in its ability to respond to the broad and diverse range of performance scenarios necessary to satisfy the Holcim’s operating conditions and business objectives. There was clearly a risk to the plant’s assets, raw materials cost, and power contract commitments to keep this system in place. To help mitigate these issues, Holcim selected the ETAP ILS system, to provide a faster, more reliable, and expansively adapting solution. The system remains fully armed at all times, ready to act on multiple scenarios, depending on the specific conditions occurring at that time. The ILS system gathers system parameters throughout the electrical network, including the generation and loading status, to adjust its ever-changing load shedding scenarios. By the time an event occurs, the substation (local) controls have already been instructed by the ILS system to act, specifically, to switch loads as required to properly load the generators and keep the plant running. The system remains several steps ahead of the event condition by constantly monitoring and modeling the entire electrical system, taking into account maintenance cycles, operational changes, or any last-minute changes in process control. The system automatically senses changing conditions and responds with new instructions on a continuous basis, allowing the system overall to react within 100 milliseconds to an event. "The power and functionality of ETAP Intelligent Load Shedding system really hit the mark with the problems that Holcim had at the plant. The risk from unscheduled power outages has all but almost disappeared. The fact that ILS was relatively easy to integrate and implement was the key to an immediate ROI," said Douglas Aviles, Power Plant Manager of Holcim. "We’re pleased that ETAP Intelligent Load Shedding was selected by Holcim as the best technical and most equitable solution for their facility," said Hugo Castro, Vice President of ETAP Automation, the Company’s value-added power system engineering consulting and analysis arm, which specializes in the implementation of ETAP Real-Time projects. "We look forward to bringing this solution to their other facilities around the world." About ETAP Founded in 1986 and headquartered in Irvine, Calif., ETAP is the global market and technology leader in electrical power system modeling, design, analysis, optimization, and predictive real-time solutions. The Company’s software technologies ensure that power systems are designed for optimal reliability, safety, and energy efficiency; when deployed in real-time mode, they enable organizations to manage energy as a strategic asset, maximize system utilization, lower costs, and achieve higher levels of financial stability. To date, more than 50,000 licenses of the Company’s ETAP and ETAP Real-Time products have been used in demanding generation, transmission, distribution, and industrial power system projects around the world. Visit for more information. About Holcim Founded in Switzerland in 1912, Holcim is one of the world's leading suppliers of cement and aggregates (crushed stone, sand and gravel). We also supply ready-mix concrete and asphalt, and provide related services. Holcim El Salvador is the country's leading company in the production and marketing of cement, concrete and high quality aggregates. Visit for more information.

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