Plants of Tomorrow Drone Days: Advancing Innovation in Holcim Cement Plant Inspections with Elios

The long history of collaboration between Holcim and Flyability has culminated in a
very successful launch of the first edition of the European Drone Days, which took
place at the Flyability headquarters in Lausanne between the 20th and the 22nd of
June 2023. A total of 15 out of the 16 European countries in which Holcim plants
are equipped with Elios drones took part in the event.

Launching the first successful European Plants of Tomorrow Drone Days

The European PoT Drone Days, hosted by Flyability in partnership with Holcim, was a three-day event aimed at better understanding the Flyability drone technology and uncovering new use cases in the cement industry. By strengthening the relationship within the drone community at Holcim and improving their collaboration with Flyability great results were achieved on both sides. Patrick Thévoz, CEO of Flyability, kicked off the event for the 25 Holcim pilots and plant representatives present at the event by welcoming them to the Flyability headquarters and encouraging them to “keep on collaborating with Flyability, even beyond the development of new features and improvement of the product.” By the third day, the event managed to showcase the successful integration of drone technology into Holcim's operations and made even more evident the many benefits that this technology can offer to the cement industry.

Check out the event video below.

Partnership for Innovation

Flyability's close collaboration with Holcim demonstrates a mutually beneficial partnership aimed at driving innovation in the cement industry. As a key technology provider for Holcim, Flyability has developed the most advanced indoor inspection drones on the market with specific features designed for cement plants, that allow it to easily fly through dusty and hazardous conditions. Currently, Elios is the only drone that can perform high-quality inspections in these conditions. By utilizing drones, Holcim aims to remain the leader in terms of efficiency and innovation, while also ensuring the safety and productivity of its operations. Since the initial tests conducted at the Holcim Eclepens cement plant in 2016, Holcim has now expanded its drone fleet to 37 units and currently holds over 100 trained Elios drone pilots. 

Roze Wesby, Global Head at Plants of Tomorrow, was also present at this important event and expressed her feelings towards this drone technology. Roze believes that “with Plants of Tomorrow, we are using these drones for many benefits. The first and foremost is health and safety. We make sure that we can actually eliminate sending people into confined spaces within our cement manufacturing operations. But not only is this good for our health and safety, it’s certainly also good for our profitability. While we do spend some money in acquiring these drones, operating them, and keeping them maintained, it also helps us avoid things like scaffolding costs, be able to reduce the downtime of our plants, and in turn that helps us save actually quite a bit of money. Finally, it also helps our people be more productive and efficient. The better that we can keep our systems running, the more proactive we can be with our maintenance, the shorter the shutdown times, and the higher the uptimes that we have. This means that we can produce better quality products for our customers all around the world.”

You can find the full interview with Roze Wesby here:

Event Highlights

The European PoT Drone Days event aimed at creating a stronger relationship among the drone community within Holcim and familiarising the pilots with Flyability's latest developments. Attendees were able to gain insights into the latest releases and enhanced their skills and knowledge of the drone through specific training with the Flyability pilots and engineers. Moreover, the event encouraged pilots to share their experiences and explore new areas where drones could effectively be deployed. It also facilitated networking opportunities among the pilots, enabling the exchange of valuable knowledge and best practices. Additionally, the event emphasized the significance of Holcim's Plants of Tomorrow initiative, reinforcing the pilots' understanding of the company's commitment to innovation.

The event received very positive feedback from those who attended. There was an overall feeling of satisfaction among the participants with the information provided, which would enhance their use of the Elios drones, and the event successfully managed to build a stronger feeling of community among the Holcim drone pilots. The PoT Drone Days proved to be a useful networking moment for both the Holcim participants but also the Flyability members who joined the event and had time to interact with the guests. The event served as a great platform for sharing experiences, addressing concerns, and exploring potential areas for future drone implementation.

Conclusion

The European PoT Drone Days served as a testament to the successful partnership between Flyability and Holcim. The event succeeded in demonstrating that, by leveraging drone technology, Holcim has achieved increased efficiency, cost reduction, and enhanced safety in its cement plants. The event fostered knowledge-sharing, networking, and collaboration among the Holcim drone pilots and left them with an overall stronger sense of community. With ongoing advancements, the event showcased the potential of drone technology in revolutionizing the cement industry and demonstrated Holcim’s commitment to continue building its drone fleet as they plan to remain the leaders in terms of innovation in the cement industry.

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