TWO Aboitiz-led companies have adopted data science and artificial intelligence (DSAI) in their business operations to curb emissions and increase efficiency, the group said in a press release on Wednesday.

Listed holding firm Aboitiz Equity Ventures, Inc. (AEV) said Therma South, Inc. is using an automated “control loop system” to feed sufficient amounts of limestone to its furnace to “help in significantly reducing sulfur oxide emissions.”

Therma South is the project company of a 300-megawatt (MW) coal-fired plant in Davao City and Davao del Sur. It is under Aboitiz Power Corp., a unit of AEV.

AEV said adding the right amount of limestone during the combustion process is crucial.

“Too little limestone and the power plant’s emissions spike; too much limestone and the power plant’s waste ash chemically changes into hazardous waste. Data science plays a crucial role in determining the right amount of limestone usage for optimum results,” it said.

Emmanuel V. Rubio, AboitizPower president and chief executive officer, said that the use of data science in operations is in line with the company’s digital transformation, which is seen to drive growth in the next decade.

AEV said that Therma South had reduced greenhouse gas emissions by around 27% between 2017 and 2019, which was partly brought about by the “controlled and automated addition of limestone.”

AEV’s infrastructure unit Republic Cement & Building Materials, Inc. has partnered up with Aboitiz banking and financial services unit UnionBank of the Philippines in creating an AI tool that predicts cement quality based on historical chemical concentration combinations.

“With this data, Republic Cement is able to optimize concentrations of raw materials, including limestone, resulting in better resource management and increased operational efficiency. This is especially important for Republic Cement’s main product Portland cement, a complex product obtained from unprocessed natural limestone and clay,” AEV said.

Nabil Francis, Republic Cement president and chief executive, said that the AI tool helps the firm achieve its goals of producing consistent cement blocks, and reaching the minimum standards for cement quality.

“This case of data science is a perfect example of synergies between the different subsidiaries of the Aboitiz Group,” he added.

According to Aboitiz Group Data Committee Chairman Dr. David R. Hardoon, AboitizPower and Republic Cement have set examples showing that an organization can achieve business value while meeting its environmental and sustainability goals. — Angelica Y. Yang