Dismantling the old and installing the new

Dissatisfied with its existing lab, both in terms of functionality and service, Villaluenga plant selected FLSmidth to replace its automatic sampling preparation laboratory.




In May 2013, Lafarge placed an order with FLSmidth for the retrofit of its automated lab at the Villaluenga plant in Toledo, Spain. The requirement was that the new lab needed to be delivered according to a very tight deadline, with many on-site tasks taking place during a pre-scheduled time in December 2013, minimizing the period that the plant was without a lab.



The objective

The Villaluenga plant wanted a new fully automatic sample preparation system that was more open and flexible than its existing system. In addition, the plant wanted easy and secure integration with all the existing analysers, as well as smaller devices, including conveyor belts and de-dusting equipment.


Villaluenga also wanted to upgrade the controllers and the control software on the existing sampling and transport system, in order to avoid black boxes that are difficult to access. Finally, dissatisfied with the service arrangement offered by their existing system, the Villaluenga plant wanted a closer and locally available service agreement.

The robot in action next to the plant’s sample preparation equipment

Defining the project

Together with FLSmidth, the Villaluenga plant decided to change the control of their existing sample preparation and analysis system to the QCX/RoboLab® system. The QCX is a more open and flexible system and it allows the integration of the existing field sampling, sending and transport systems. The Villaluenga plant was also particularly interested in the service package offered to cover first-time spare parts, remote connection to the whole QCX system and a 24/7 hotline for the key sample preparation equipment. The service package combines local expertise and global resources, including an annual preventive maintenance visit from FLSmidth Germany to look at the sample preparation hardware. This service package secures the customer’s investment as well as the system’s performance for many years to come.


Our new automated lab from FLSmidth is much more flexible than our previous one and our operators can perform many more tasks compared to before. We now have integrated control of our sample preparation and are very pleased with the way that the whole retrofit was carried out.

Iñigo LLopisMaintenance Manager, Villaluenga Plant

The solution

FLSmidth was responsible for dismantling all the old equipment, as well as installing the new system. Close coordination with various subcontractors was key to the success of this project.


The QCX/RoboLab system delivered to Villaluenga includes:

  • Combined mill-press sample preparation machine, Centaurus (2 units)
  • Turn table rack, TTR (1 unit)
  • Customised robot arm (1 unit)
  • Automatic receiving station (1 unit)
  • Computer cabinet (1 unit)
  • QCX server (1 unit)
  • QCX clients (2 units)
  • Software QCX/Laboratory, QCX/RoboLab, QCX/AutoSampling
  • Software QCX/BlendExpert for quality control optimisation of one raw mill and four cement mills
  • Dedicated drivers to communicate all the new and existing analysers and preparation equipment


An FLSmidth specialist makes fine adjustments to the receiving station.


Despite the fact that FLSmidth has delivered more than 450 automated labs and over 80 robotic-based systems, when it comes to retrofitting an existing system (which has been working for more than a decade), there are particular challenges. The customer naturally expects the new installation to overcome all the deficiencies of the old system. Close collaboration with the team at Villaluenga and dedicated effort from all sides ensured the new lab delivered on all expected improvements and functionality.


The very short delivery time was a challenge that required careful planning and preparation: the dismantling of the old lab and the new installation was successfully completed in just one month.

Another challenge was to re-use some of the existing equipment, such as analysers and conveyor belts. FLSmidth ensured that the integration is seamless and that the new system ran smoothly from the start. The Villaluenga plant has been running a competitor system for more than a decade, so it was a huge change for the plant and in particular for the lab staff to get used to the new QCX/RoboLab system. FLSmidth provided training on the new system to help with the transition.




The dismantling of the old lab, followed by the new installation, started in December 2013 and the whole commissioning began just after the Christmas period. The factory acceptance of the system was signed by both the customer and FLSmidth on February 13th, 2014.


The contract for this system includes a 5-year service package covering spare parts, remote monitoring and preventative maintenance, so the Villaluenga plant has optimal sample preparation and processing for many years to come.

The robot accessing the Turn Table Rack during normal lab operation

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