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Project size is key to shift to bulk supplies



Anand Kumar Sharma, Logistics Head, JK Cement, brings to light the advantages of bulk distribution of cement and also focuses on the key changes that the industry is likely to witness such as innovations in types of cement and increasing role of e-commerce.

What is the volume of production in your cement plants and how much of it goes in bulk distribution?
Volume of cement production in FY22 is close to 12 million tonnes out of which approximately 8 per cent was part of bulk distribution.

Which is the most suitable mode of transport for carrying large quantities of cement and why?

  • Railways is the most suitable mode of transport for carrying large quantities of cement on longer lead destinations.
  • Railways have lower freight costs compared to road transport, especially when shipping high volumes.
  • With the continuous increase of diesel rates in India, road freights consist of almost 40 per cent of fuel cost which makes it costlier than rail freights
  • Railways have standardised transit schedules, which aren’t hindered by traffic and weather.
  • Poor road infrastructure, vehicle movement restrictions on routes passing through villages and towns, add to delays and underutilisation of logistics assets, adding to cost increases which is not in case of railways.

Sea transport is the optimal mode of transportation and carries huge volumes of load. The transportation is economical compared to rail as well as road transport routes, which are comparatively congested but have very limited sources.

What are the various advantages attached to bulk distribution of cement?
The advantages attached to the bulk distribution of cement are as follows:

  • The loss on account of multiple handling and occasional bursting of bags is totally avoided.
  • Pilferage during transit and at the site is avoided
  • Dust emissions at railway yards, cement handling godowns, transportation by trucks and construction sites are now a major concern in cities. The resultant Suspended Particulate Matter (SPM) levels lead to crores of rupees being spent by the government towards health related issues. The use of bulk cement through modern bulk terminals and related equipment would significantly contribute to the reduction in pollution levels.
  • Plastic bags, which are currently the preferred mode of packing used in India, are not ideal as they are not environment friendly. Since these bags are non-biodegradable, it’s not a viable option therefore, bulk transportation avoids such pollution.
  • Moreover, a major advantage of transporting bulk cement is the easy availability in large volumes and consistent quality.
  • Transportation of cement in bulk has been able to reduce the project implementation time and cost optimisation.

How does distribution or transportation of cement in bulk impact the end user cost of the product?
There are two aspects of cost impact on the end user in relation to transportation of cement in bulk:
Institutional sales: In the institutional segment, there are some benefits of bulk supplies to our customers. However, it requires storage infrastructure hence there’s a cost factor. This cost would be set off by discounts/price negotiations on bulk supplies. In the case of bagged cement, apart from bag cost there would be handling cost, first at the time of delivery and other at the time of usage. So, this cost can be avoided by setting up bulk silos. However, project size is key to shift to bulk supplies.
Trade/IHB sales: With the current infrastructure (load size) it would be difficult to shift bag supplies to bulk. The IHB sector contributes 55 to 60 per cent of total cement demand and the lot size is also small. Average consumption quantity in this space is around 700 to 800 bags/site in a span of 4 to 5 months which is effectively one bulker load but the customer buys this quantity of cement in small lots – of 50 bags or less. So, it would not be feasible to shift a very big chunk of supplies to bulk.
Apart from this, the transportation cost of bulk supplies is much higher than bagged supplies for one very common reason – i.e. return load.

What are the major challenges or gaps faced by your organisation in the bulk distribution domain?
Major challenges faced by our organisation in the bulk distribution domain are as follows:

  • There is always a storage infrastructure challenge at bulk sites due to which silos are needed at customer sites, which leads to some cost implications. Moreover, it is feasible only in the case of long term projects/sites of at least two years of duration. Therefore, there is a need to explore infrastructure of movable silos to overcome this challenge but again this will involve a major cost impact.
  • Though over the period bulk demand for cement has increased but not to the extent where timely unloading of the fleets and vehicle rotation can be optimised. In bulk distribution vehicles often get detained at customer sites for multiple days due unforeseen circumstances like a vehicle breakdown at the site or rain etc.

Explain your organisation’s distribution model.

How can a curated logistics system help in achieving the sustainability goals for the industry?

  • The curated logistics system would help in the following ways to achieve the sustainability goals for the cement industry.
  • Clean energy resources – Companies have to explore EVs and CNG/LNG vehicles more and more to reduce the carbon footprint.
  • Shift of mode of transport to rail/sea would help in achieving sustainability goal.
  • Government has to increase the carrying capacity of the fleet thereby resulting in lower fuel to carry higher volume.
  • Eco-driving education and tracking of drivers is another significant way to reduce fuel consumption. It also minimises the risk of possible damages to the driver.
  • Using tyre pressure sensors helps fuel consumption by up to 12 per cent at lower speeds, as well as extending the tyre’s life.

What are the key changes the industry is likely to witness in the near future?
Key changes the industry is likely to witness in the near future are:
Increase in demand: Based on Kanvic’s Cement Demand Projection Model developed specifically for Indian Cement Review Vision 2030 shows that cement demand in India will increase by 116 per cent by 2030 to 660 million metric tons (MMT) at a CAGR of 6.6 per cent.
Paper bags for cement: Cement manufacturers will switch to sustainable solutions and replacing conventional plastic bags with high shelf life paper bags. The use of paper bags for cement packaging enhances the aesthetic appeal and provides ease of printability. Paper bags for cement packaging will ensure product protection from moisture.
Increase of Ready Mix Concrete (RMC): RMC allows speedy construction through programmed delivery at the site and also reduces the labour cost. RMC comes with consistency in quality through accurate and computerised control of sand aggregates and water as per mix designs. Production of
RMC helps in minimising cement wastage due to bulk handling.
Shrinking IHB sector: With rapid urbanisation and infrastructure developments in urban areas, it is predicted that the IHB sector will shrink and large builder/commercial infrastructure will increase
Increase of new types of cements: Limestone Calcined Clay Cement (LC3) a new environment-friendly additive for concrete that makes it easier to produce high-performance concrete at a lower cost. This cement has shown that it can reduce as much as 30 per cent CO2 emissions and 20 per cent energy consumption in cement production. Still, the performance of the concrete produced using this cement exceeds those using cement commercially available today in most aspects.
Cement in e-commerce: India’s e-commerce industry is expected to grow by 84 per cent by 2024. E-commerce platforms offer customers an array of cement brands to choose from at the best competitive price by removing middle men cost. There are a few players who have already forayed into the online procurement of cement via e-commerce platforms in the last one or two years

-Kanika Mathur


Kesoram to boost cement capacity to 15 MT in next 3-4 years




The firm’s overall outlay would be between Rs 350 and Rs 500 crore

Kesoram Industries Ltd, a B K Birla Group subsidiary, announced that it plans to increase its cement production capacity to 15 million tonnes (MT) from 11 MT.

Kesoram, which has demerged its tyres and rayon businesses, is on course to make a profit in the current fiscal year (FY).P Radhakrishnan, whole-time director & CEO, told the media that they have chosen to increase cement capacity to 15 MT in phases over the next 3-4 years, up from 10-11 MT.

The overall outlay would be between Rs 350 and Rs 500 crore.He said that the company’s financials would improve in the next quarters as debt reduce and low-cost funds refinance. He added that in 2022, they will turn profitable on a net basis.

Radhakrishnan said they are always attempting to reduce their interest cost to enhance the financial situation. This year, they want to discharge the debt of Rs 500-600 crore and refinance a portion of the total existing debt (Rs 300-400 crore) with low-cost funds to reduce interest costs.With high-cost Optionally Convertible Debentures (OCDs) and Non-Convertible Debentures (NCDs), the business has an outstanding debt of Rs 1650 crore, down from over Rs 2000 crore a year earlier.

The B K Birla group firm also stated that it is shifting its product mix to include more value-added cement, which would increase its EBITA by another Rs 150 crore in the next two years, bringing it to over Rs 950 crore yearly.

An offcial stated that they’re always adding mixed cement to their inventory and plan to increase this to 80% in two years from currently 50%.Kesoram planned to increase capacity by one million tonnes by de-bottlenecking and then add a kiln to the existing facility to decrease capital expenditures.

After weighing all possibilities, the firm will shortly begin accepting fixed deposits, which would help the company get closer to its target of Rs 200 crore.

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Also read: Ramco Cements plans for at least Rs 1,200 cr capex in two years

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Cement demand to rise mid-to-high single digits in medium-term




Capacity utilisation to fall to 65% in cement industry: Fitch Ratings

Fitch Ratings told the media that it believes a sustained gross domestic product (GDP) growth, the government’s thrust on infrastructure and affordable housing, and revival of corporate capex will underpin the growth in the cement industry.

It expects India’s cement demand to increase by mid-to-high single digits over the medium term after an estimated mid-teen rebound in FY22.The cement industry’s utilisation will drop to 65% from 70%, estimated in FY22, as faster new capacity additions will outpace demand growth.

It will temper cement producers’ pricing power, and the industry will consolidate further.

Fitch Ratings said Adani Group’s aggressive approach to cement capacity expansion after it acquired Holcim Indian business. It will result in increasing the competition in the industry.

The increased prices by cement producers will not fully counter the energy prices due to the Russia-Ukraine war.

It said that the cement producers’ per tonne margin in FY23 will stay much below the pandemic level in FY21 when low energy prices increased profit despite having low demand.

Major cement industries reduced financial leverage since FY20 to support financial flexibility despite lower profitability and plans for higher capital expenditure (capex) expansion.

Fitch Ratings added that the impact of inflationary pressure on cement demand from the Russia-Ukraine war had been limited, but downside risks might increase if macroeconomic conditions deteriorate significantly.

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Also read:India’s coal imports likely to grow in 2022: Fitch Ratings report

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Adani Group’s Holcim acquisition doubles India Inc’s deal to $19.1 billion




The sale was worth roughly $7.965 billion a year earlier in May 2021

The $10.5 billion acquisition of cement major Holcim by Adani Group has more than doubled India Inc’s deal value to $19.1 billion in May 2022, with 190 deals. The sale was worth roughly $7.965 billion a year earlier in May.

Mergers and acquisitions, a private equity landscape, and public market activity such as IPOs are all part of the deal.

According to the Grant Thornton Bharat report, the overall transaction value decreased by 59% in May compared to April due to the $40 billion merger agreement between HDFC Bank and HDFC that was struck in April.

Adani Group and Holcim signed a formal deal last month to buy a 63.11% share in Ambuja Cement, which has a 50.05% holding in ACC, as well as a 4.48% direct investment in the company. The deal should be completed in the second half of 2022.

Apart from the Adani-Holcim agreement, the Grant Thornton study included Reliance and Bodhi Tree’s $2 billion investment in Viacom18 in May. In addition, 13 more high-value purchases worth more than $100 million totalled $5.1 billion in the month under review.

In terms of volume, there were 190 deal transactions in May, up from 120 in the same month the previous year. In addition, volume climbed by 3% over the prior month.

Shanthi Vijetha told the media that start-up, e-commerce, and IT dominated the transaction volumes for the month, while manufacturing, media and entertainment, and energy topped the overall value.

In May 2022, there were roughly 40 merger and acquisition transactions worth $11.9 billion, with more than a fourth of them coming from the startup sector, which saw 11 agreements for $70 million.

Furthermore, the research stated that in May, private equity investments reached new highs in terms of value and number, totalling $7.2 billion across 150 agreements, representing a 169% increase in value and an 81% increase in deal volume.

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Also read:Adani Group acquires 63.19% stake in Ambuja Cements and ACC

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