CEMEX is a global construction materials company that is building a better future through sustainable products and solutions. It offers cement, ready-mix concrete, aggregates, and urbanisation solutions in growing markets around the world, powered by a multinational workforce focused on providing a superior customer experience, enabled by digital technologies. The RMC Group (acquired by CEMEX in 2005) implemented EQuIS™ as their central environmental database solution in the United Kingdom (UK) after assessing multiple other systems. EQuIS has been used since 2000 to manage most environmental monitoring efforts and sample plans, including subcontractor arrangements.
CEMEX manages a portfolio of operational and legacy sites across the UK requiring complex environmental monitoring to adhere to regulatory authority permits, minimize liability risks, and assess ongoing performance. High volumes of field and laboratory data are generated annually and must be effectively managed and transformed into meaningful information to make appropriate business decisions.
Environmental monitoring occurs on more than 200 sites at roughly 4,500 locations. Annual data collection includes approximately:
- 15,000 samples collected and analyzed for various parameters resulting in approximately 250,000 analytical results;
- 30,000,000 records generated by flow, water level, chemistry, process, and meteorological data loggers;
- 24,000 water levels measured manually; and
- 270,000 sub-surface gas measurements.
Importance of Effective Data Management
Extensive data collection for the environmental monitoring is cost intensive and includes task planning, field activities, laboratory services, data management, and reporting by consultants. CEMEX recognizes that poorly managed data (e.g., paper archives, spreadsheets) are worthless. With good data management, high quality data are an investment and converts a straight cost into an asset. CEMEX has therefore invested in EQuIS to facilitate effective environmental data management and ensure quality throughout the workflow.
EQuIS is used to manage the complete planning > sampling > analysis > reporting workflow for all UK sites from one central enterprise system. Centralizing the monitoring workflows for all sites and media allowed CEMEX to standardize and control workflows throughout the company. A small, well-trained team of dedicated data specialists in the UK Sustainability Department is able to assess data across multiple sites to manage compliance and environmental performance—tasks that would otherwise be spread across multiple sites with local managers using their own inconsistent procedures. Management of the complex datasets for hundreds of sites in EQuIS has led to improved data quality while significantly increasing the monitoring cost effectiveness. The collected data became an asset, providing insights beyond the monitoring itself.
Evolution of EQuIS Workflow
CEMEX recognized that previous data management attempts were not yielding the desired results and acquired EQuIS in 1999. CEMEX developed a standard data format and imported all historical data. Very quickly EQuIS was implemented to accommodate data from all businesses with environmental monitoring commitments.
Initial EQuIS usage entailed the core products—EQuIS Data Processor (EDP) for data checking prior to upload to the EQuIS database and EQuIS Professional for data analysis and reporting. As EQuIS evolved and offered more applications, CEMEX expanded use of EQuIS to include the Sample Planning Module (SPM), EQuIS Data Gathering Engine (EDGE) for field data collection, and EQuIS Live to process high volume, high frequency data from loggers. EQuIS Enterprise automated workflow and handling of electronic data deliverables (EDDs) from the field and laboratories, and provided dashboards for effective data visualization.
CEMEX has led the UK aggregates industry with telemetered flow meters. CEMEX now has approximately 370 active data loggers, most of which are telemetered, that provide flow, process, chemistry, water level, and meteorological data. The logger data is imported and analyzed using EQuIS Live.
Monitoring plans are developed for each of the sites. New monitoring locations are established, monitoring frequencies are determined, and field activities (e.g., sampling or field measurements) are planned. EQuIS SPM automatically schedules events for monitoring periods including dates, resources, samples and required analysis. Customized reports optimize plans and generate task lists for field crews and laboratories.
CEMEX and their subcontractors use EDGE to record field data electronically on tablets. Field crews are provided with task lists and upload data to EQuIS on completion of each site visit, where data are immediately available for assessment and reporting. All laboratory work is pre-registered in advance so that the required analyses are programmed as soon as the samples arrive at the laboratories. Analytical data from laboratories are sent by email in a standardized format. Once received, data are subjected to the EQuIS automated quality control and verification tools, which expedite the data workflow and make new data available immediately after they enter the system.
EQuIS provides flexible reporting and analyses tools allowing CEMEX to track performance throughout the monitoring plan and to fulfill the self-monitoring requirements by regulatory agencies. New results are automatically checked against permit limits, and regular reports to the agencies are generated from pre-defined report templates.
CEMEX customized EQuIS tables and reports for required discharge permit monitoring. Raw flow meter data are stored in EQuIS but can be easily submitted at the frequencies limited by condition in the permit (e.g., daily sum, weekly sum, monthly sum). Data are stored in one place for multiple purposes and duplication is avoided. One customized report enables easy review of data, checks for completeness, and creates the XML file required for upload to the regulatory agency.
EQuIS also provides a comprehensive set of tools to analyze and visualize collected data on web dashboards, allowing CEMEX staff to easily and quickly assess data. Enterprise dashboards display up-to-date results from all data sources for key facilities, including data loggers and weather stations, enabling immediate status checks. EQuIS Information Agent (EIA) reports provide alerts to out-of-range results and support using Enterprise dashboards to quickly identify data anomalies and enable corrective measures in a timely manner.
Benefits of EQuIS
CEMEX has reaped multiple rewards from its investment in EQuIS. High quality EQuIS data have been achieved through early initiation of central control of monitoring and data management in conjunction with strict management of reference values and data submissions. Centralized environmental data management has provided quality throughout the monitoring workflow, minimized monitoring costs, simplified reporting, and yielded many tangible and intangible benefits.
- Improved management of plans and resources.
- Improved data consistency, quality, and transparency.
- Visualization tools, automated workflows, and custom reports allow data to be easily presented visually and assessed, especially for compliance. EQuIS facilitates compliance with regulatory requirements for automated monitoring data submissions.
- Reduced costs for data and document management, field data collection, laboratory contracts, reporting, and consultant project time. CEMEX estimates that one of their EQuIS reports saves approximately 3 weeks of effort for a technical specialist. If environmental monitoring data were not managed with EQuIS, CEMEX estimates they would need an additional 4 to 8 people.