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At JK Cement, SAP is the pivot of every function’s data capturing & reporting



Jitendra Singh, Chief Information Officer, JK Cement

Kindly explain to our readers about the SAP platform in brief and when did you go live at JK Cement? How was the journey? Please elaborate.
JK Cement (JKCL) implemented SAP in the year 2009 with core modules like FICO, SD, MM, PP, QM, PM and PS. As usual the "S" curve was observed in the initial implementation and institutionalisation phase, later stabilised to a good extent. Along with core transactional system, we also have SAP BI/BW landscape to cater to the effective MIS and data management respectively.

As the SAP landscape kept on maturing at JKCL, we added a few more functionalities like CRM using SAP C4C, Treasury and Risk Management (TRM), Business Planning and Consolidation (BPC), success factors (HRMS), etc. In the year 2018, we migrated our database to HANA, thereby converting the system as Suite on HANA (SoH), resulting in a much Efficient and Effective ERP with in-memory computing. Also the migration to SoH brought it a step closer to SAP S4/HANA, which is planned for implementation soon.

It is more fashionable for industry to declare that they use SAP. Many times it is seen that even 50 per cent potential of SAP is not used by many? What is your take?
SAP today has evolved as the most trusted platform for capturing the data organisation wide, having appropriate checks and controls built in and equipped with the facility to configure the system for alignment with business needs (of course without compromising on the basic thread of process controls).

I sincerely feel that when it comes to managing a multi business, multi geography system, SAP is definitely an asset and a great enabler. The usage percentage may differ from organisation to organisation – but not because SAP is not useful, but largely on the organisational appetite for having a centralised ERP with the varied degree of checks and controls desired. At JKCL, conservatively speaking, SAP is the pivot of every function’s data capturing and reporting, and is being used to its optimum.

In your case how SAP is used for sales and manufacturing function? Please explain.
We’ve been optimally using SAP for both sales and manufacturing operations by configuring the modules available for the purpose. In fact, we’ve configured SAP SD module not only to capture sales data (SO, Invoices, etc.), but to an extent that the transactional data being captured passes through multiple validations, bringing in stricter controls which help us maximise the potential from each transaction. In manufacturing, PP, QM, PM modules (over and above MM module for inventory management) enable us in bringing up the cost controls, effective plant maintenance, digital quality certificates generation, etc.

The retention module is automated and provides desired visibility to the leadership team in planning on day-to-day basis. BPC tool uses the sales and manufacturing data in planning process, providing a near exact precision in MRP, sales, costing data points.

Talking about logistics, cement industry incurs relatively higher cost to the tune of 25 to 30 per cent on logistics. Huge number of trucks waiting outside the plant is a common scene. At JKCL, we hear that you have brought down logistic cost considerably using digital technologies? Kindly provide information.
Logistics is a key component in cement Industry and requires a much deeper insight and validations, compared to few other industries. The vehicles waiting outside the plant in yard, is through an organised sequence based controlled yard management and is never chaotic at JKCL. With a complete visibility on every vehicle from yard-in to yard out and en-route, we have been able to effectively manage the logistics at all plants.

We were able to bring down the logistics cost considerably through automation at various levels. Some of them are. :

  • RFID based in-plant tracking system – reduction in TAT
  • GPS based track and trace of vehicles – visibility on Route, short trips, diversion, etc.
  • Online bidding among transporters. – reduction in freight
  • E-proof of delivery (ePOD) – visibility to customers and faster resolution of billing related transactions for transporters
  • Linear programming based best route selection for a faster delivery, reduced freight and timeline

Please explain to our readers the use of IoT and drones in the coming years. What has been the status at your own plants?
We’ve used drone based survey of mines and stock to bring in efficiency in the system, and intend to institutionalise it in future. IoT can play a big role in organisation wise integration of various equipment and machinery, wherein the conversion from manual intervention based tweaking to an automated plant controls – will bring in harmonised production and a proactive plant management.

For IoT, we are in process of strengthening our plant operations through :

  • Cordoning the operational technology (OT) with strong security controls
  • Use of IoT for efficient remote monitoring and control
  • Integrating IT and OT for an overall view to the leadership team
  • Use of AR+VR for remote maintenance and support

How IT can be used in training and development of manpower in cement industry?
JKCL as an organisation has always believed in a trained, skilled and awareness based manpower enablement, wherein there are number of institutions from JKCL engaged in providing training individuals in multiple domains. We use IT enabled tools to impart trainings to our manpower in both technical as well as behavioural aspects.

The best example is utilising the learning and development tools during the lockdown period, wherein more than 50 new modules were uploaded on our online Learning Management System (LMS), along with having a collaboration and integration with external agencies in hosting their standard courses online through our system. The efforts are to create standard training modules for our workers through our experienced faculty from ITI. Some of these courses are already available on channels like YouTube, etc.

AS a CIO, your role in the organisation got more pronounced during lockdown period, what was the response of your team during this period to the organisation at large? Give few typical examples.
Fortunately for us, the leadership team is completely aligned to the thought of Digital JKCL, especially Raghavpat Singhania and Madhavkrishna Singhania, who always encourage us to rollout tools and technologies which are futuristic in nature and bring in value to the organisation through automation.

In the past three years, we have rolled out multiple projects that are yielding benefits in respective functions. Because of the migration to latest technologies including Cloud, SaaS, IoT, SDWAN, etc. and Infrastructure level and Applications like CRM, DNA, CTS, IHB, etc. we were more or less prepared for the online mode of working at all levels.

The timely migration to Microsoft Cloud platform about 18 months back, made the collaboration and communication easy for everyone in the company. We have had more than 1,000 online technical meetings across officials, customers and suppliers during the lockdown period. My team has been working round the clock to ensure a seamless working environment for all individuals in the organisation and has been able to provide the required support in time and in an effective manner. We enabled e-visit (sales force visit through online tools), e-joining (new joiners completing formalities online), e-provisioning (enabling BYOD, access to required tool/technology online), etc. during the lockdown period. The paperless movement across the organisation (including Robotic Process Automation), is an opportunity to mitigate the risk of contact based spreading during Covid-19.

Work from home (WfH) model has limitations in the manufacturing sector. Still given a situation we are facing today due to Covid-19 outbreak, what kind of scene will emerge post Covid-19 (for WfH) in the manufacturing sector?
This is correct that WfH model is essentially applicable to the office workers (especially in India), but this is also an opportunity to identify the areas where we can introduce robotics and process automation to reduce dependency on physical presence.

Robotics and remote management in manufacturing is an area where we can proceed with and ensure that the operations are not impacted in situations like the present one (Covid-19). The combination of AR and VR, Drones, IoT, etc. are a necessity today, and needs implementation faster.

Smarter organisations have already realised the need for latest technologies in both Office as well as Manufacturing environment and are embracing it faster than ever.

For the last four years, Jitendra Singh has been working as CIO at JK Cement. He has completed his studies from XLRI, Jamshedpur. He has held leadership positions at Nagarjuna Chemicals & Fertilisers and at HIL, a CK Birla Group company.

IoT can play a big role in organisation wise integration of various equipment and machinery.

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Proactive Maintenance




Gaurav Mathur, Director and Chief Executive, Global Technical Services, discusses the importance of an on-site oil testing laboratory within industrial plants for improved safety, extended equipment life and cost effectiveness in the manufacturing sector.

Oil condition monitoring can provide important information about the condition of the machine through oil analysis. Lubricant in any machine is like blood in the human body. Just as a blood test can help a doctor diagnose an illness and inform a treatment plan, similarly an oil analysis can provide an effective way to know the machine condition and inform it to take maintenance decisions.
Once the oil test laboratory is within the plant, the test reports are made available to the machine maintenance team within a timeline of 48 hours. Timely action helps reduce the expensive mechanical maintenance costs and improves machine life and productivity, leading to the plant’s profitability.
Normally, the oil testing laboratories are far away from the plant. They are mostly in a different city, and these laboratories provide test reports after 10 to 15 days. However, those reports are of no use in machine maintenance as mechanical damage starts to set in within 48 hours in any machine. Hence, it is important to have an on-site oil test laboratory within the plant.
Oil condition monitoring, covering moisture (water presence in the oil), particle contamination, wear debris analysis or loss of additives level, etc. are the parameters that clearly bring out any machine’s internal condition. This reporting leads to timely maintenance decisions by the mechanical team. These reports also help improve the reliability of the machine being tested.
Thus, an oil testing laboratory within the plant site is instrumental in greatly improving the value of machine life and reducing a major cost of mechanical maintenance. These improvements and cost reductions in turn lead to cost savings, profitability and enhance efficiency in manufacturing.

Oil analysis is an important activity used to check oil health, oil contamination, oil cleanliness level, and machine wear. Its main purpose is to verify that a lubricant in the machine is operating with the oil in good condition i.e. the oil is free from any contamination due to continued usage in the machine over a period of time.
An on-site oil testing laboratory helps to form a system for early detection of oil degradation, contamination, and machine wear. Early detection has several benefits that ensure a healthier environment for the employees and the machinery, such as improved safety, early detection and warning of machine degradation, and increased equipment availability and effectiveness.
Once the oil testing laboratory is established within the plant, thereafter, the next step is to prepare department-wise, machine-wise oil testing schedules. These schedules ensure that there is periodic oil testing and subsequent corrective measures can be taken by the mechanical team. This kind of reporting and availability of the
on-site laboratory leads to a more proactive mechanical maintenance.
Almost 82 per cent of wear-related failures are the direct result of particle contamination.
It is a well-known fact that lubricating oils in a machine never dies. Once the contaminants are removed and the oil cleaned to its original level, the oil can be made as good as ‘new’. Hence, a good oil filtration and accurate additives treatment at site assumes considerable importance in ‘oil conservation’ in the industry. By conducting the above activity about 40 per cent to 50 per cent conservation of the lubricant oil can be achieved.
Hence, having a site condition monitoring laboratory not only improves the life of the machines, it also reduces mechanical maintenance costs and can bring a large economic change in the cement manufacturing sector. Besides, oil can also be recycled to its original level. Thus, having an on-site oil testing laboratory is paramount important and profitable for all large industries.

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We see a future without waste




Sunil Kumbhar, CEO and Director, AltSF Process, talks about how automation, technology and a commitment to sustainability is driving them to reshape the future of cement production.

Tell us about the range of materials that your equipment can handle and process.
AltSF Process has designed various equipment for application of co-processing of the solid alternative fuels. All the equipment is designed to accept all possible materials, so that the cement factory gets the flexible system. With a flexible system they are always ready to receive any material having some calorific value for energy substitution. In general, we accept grain size up to 500mm, surface moisture content up to 45 per cent and density between 0.1 and 1.2 t/m3.

How does your process convert bulk material fit for consumption as an alternative fuel?
Ideally, suppliers of the alternative fuel or bulk materials should provide a processed waste to the cement industry. But if quality is poor, shredder and screening machines are necessary to pre-process the waste to convert them to RDF. Based on the type of available bulk material, we can select the appropriate equipment shredder, screening, separation and sorting for preparation of the RDF.

Tell us about your products and their role in the cement manufacturing process?
AltSF Process products are used mainly for co-processing of the alternative solid fuels. For cement factories using fuels in their process, it requires uniform flow of the fuel, safe feeding in the calciner or kiln. All our equipment is designed to handle this uniform flow needed. Alternative fuels tend to jam at every location, so critical design thinking is necessary for optimised layout designing, which the AltSF team is delivering to users.

What is the role of automation and technology in your products and services?
Handling alternative fuels, specifically these days, unprocessed municipal solid waste coming to cement plants is of very hazardous nature. Bad odour, unhygienic waste has a hazard to deploy people to work in handling these materials. Hence, cement plants require fully automated arrangements monitored from their control room for all operations. AltSF delivers fully automated arrangements for all handling stages like storage management, extraction of waste, accurate weighing, conveying and safe feeding inside the kiln.

How does the use of your products and services impact the productivity and efficiency of cement making?
For cement factories the priority is to make cement and this is achieved through a precise control of temperature and process times inside a pyro-process section. We help by providing a solution that works for them without hampering the cement making process. Our unique solutions with uniform flow and safe feeding at high temperature of calciner allows cement factories to use alternative fuels in big volumes. One of our installations is able to feed 60 tph of RDF, after necessary cement manufacturing process updates.

What are the major challenges that you face as a provider to the cement industry?
Working conditions in alternative fuels are not favourable for a person to work in, resulting in less manpower with correct skills available in this sector. AltSF Process management is very much service oriented and wishes their customers to use alternative fuels in its best possible way. But we need to spend a lot of time training new people at this stage. We are sure, with positive work on training from ASAPP, CII and NCCBM this skill levels will go up soon. We are sure, industry just started because of the high volume of fuels and within a few years,
our industry will have more skilled manpower for this sector.

How do you envision the future of use of alternative fuels in the cement industry?
We are sure, in the near future, the quantity of alternative fuels in the cement industry will grow. Cement industry co-processing provides the right platform for waste recycling, as there is no residue after use, everything becomes part of cement itself. Since we are the second largest cement manufacturer, we also have the capability to consume our waste in the right way, without hampering the environment. We see a future without waste and a cement industry with more than 80 per cent alternative fuels.

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Concrete Horizons




Dr Prashanth Banakar, Principal, Jain College of Engineering and Technology, Hubli, Karnataka, delves into the transforming scenario of cement and concrete production and evaluates the nuances of navigating the sustainable frontier through technology.

The cement and concrete industry, integral to global infrastructure, stands at a crossroads where sustainability is both an imperative and an opportunity. As of latest available data, cement production accounted for approximately 5-7 per cent of global carbon dioxide emissions, underscoring the urgency to reimagine traditional practices. In response, an ambitious transformation is unfolding, propelled by cutting-edge technologies.
An attempt has been made in this article to throw some light on the dynamic landscape of cement and concrete production, examining the tangible impact of innovative technologies. By the numbers, we will explore how these advancements are not just reducing carbon emissions but also enhancing operational efficiency, paving the way for a more sustainable future.

Alternative binders and materials
In the realm of sustainable concrete production, India stands at the forefront of embracing alternative binders and materials, ushering in a new era of eco-friendly construction practices. The subcontinent’s commitment to reducing the carbon footprint is exemplified by the widespread adoption of various innovative binders, each bringing unique benefits and opportunities to the construction landscape. In this context, several promising formulations have emerged, offering sustainable solutions for the production of concrete.

  1. Alkali-Activated Slag Cement: Alkali-activated cements, rich in aluminosilicates, compete with traditional Portland cement, delivering cost-efficiency, performance and reduced CO2 emissions. Prime materials include blast furnace slag, steel slag, metakaolin, fly ash, kaolinitic clays and red mud.
    Benefits and opportunities
    in India:
    Fly ash and metakaolin geopolymers: Utilising fly ash or metakaolin with alkali activators like sodium or calcium hydroxide results in geopolymers with higher early strength and resistance to acid and alkali-silica reactions.
    Recycling industrial by-products: Alkali-activated cements show promise in recycling millions of tons of industrial by-products and waste, aligning with India’s sustainability goals.
  2. Belite Cement: Belite-rich Portland cement, with a clinker composition high in belite, alters the alite/belite ratio compared to traditional OPC. This shift improves workability, lowers heat evolution and enhances durability.
  3. Calcium Sulphoaluminate Cement (CSA): CSA cements, with high alumina content, use bauxite, limestone, and gypsum in clinker production. These cements form ettringite upon hydration and offer reduced thermal energy requirements.
  4. Benefits and Opportunities:
  5. Reduced CO2 emissions: The raw mix design of CSA compositions, requiring less limestone, results in decreased CO2 emissions compared to Portland cement.
    Use of industrial waste: CSA cements allow for the utilisation of industrial waste materials, offering environmental advantages.
  6. Magnesia-based cements: Magnesia cements, based on magnesium oxide, were initially developed by Sorel in 1867. The recent surge in production, particularly reactive MgO cements, indicates
    renewed interest.
    Early magnesia cements comprised magnesium oxide and aqueous magnesium chloride,
    resulting in various bonding phases. Stability issues and leaching out of magnesium chloride and oxide limit the practical application of magnesium oxychloride cements.
    Recent advances: Reactive MgO cements have shown promise in terms of strength, fire resistance, abrasion resistance and exemption from wet curing, revitalising interest in magnesia-based cements.

Carbon capture and utilisation (CCU)

Carbon capture and utilisation (CCU) stands as a pivotal strategy in the quest for sustainable cement production, offering a dual-pronged solution to mitigate carbon dioxide emissions. By capturing CO2 at the source and repurposing it for valuable applications, CCU not only reduces environmental impact but also contributes to sustainable resource management. Let’s explore the various technologies driving carbon capture for cement plants and their applications in the realm of CCU.
a. Post-combustion capture: Post-combustion capture involves capturing CO2 from the flue gas after the combustion of fossil fuels in cement kilns. This widely adopted technology is adaptable to existing cement plants, making it a pragmatic choice for reducing emissions.
b. Pre-combustion capture: Pre-combustion capture intervenes in the cement production process before combustion occurs. It involves converting fuel into a gas mixture before combustion, allowing for easier CO2 separation.
c. Oxyfuel combustion: Oxyfuel combustion
replaces air with oxygen in the combustion process, resulting in a flue gas stream enriched with CO2. This concentrated CO2 stream simplifies the separation process.
d. Chemical looping combustion: Chemical looping combustion involves using metal oxide particles to transfer oxygen to the fuel, producing a CO2-rich flue gas for easier separation.

Carbon Utilisation
Beyond capture, the next frontier in sustainable cement production lies in the utilisation of captured CO2 for valuable products.
a. Synthetic fuels
b. Building materials
c. Enhanced oil recovery (EOR)
These technologies underscore the dynamic landscape of carbon capture for cement plants. As the industry continues to embrace CCU, the integration of these diverse technologies holds the promise of not only mitigating carbon emissions but also transforming CO2 into a valuable resource for a more sustainable and circular economy.
Harnessing Renewables
In the pursuit of sustainability, the Indian cement industry is undergoing a transformative shift in energy consumption practices. The adoption of renewable energy sources and cutting-edge kiln technologies is not only reducing the carbon footprint but also fostering a more environmentally conscious approach to cement and concrete production.

  1. Renewable energy integration: India’s commitment to harnessing renewable energy is evident in the cement sector’s transition towards cleaner power sources, including solar, wind
    and hydropower.
    Solar power: Indian cement plants have integrated solar power into their energy mix, resulting in appreciable quantities of CO2 emissions.
    Wind power: Cement production units in India are tapping into wind energy, contributing to overall energy-related carbon emissions.
    Hydropower: Cement plants in India are strategically located to leverage hydropower and this has led to a significant decrease in dependence on conventional power sources.
  2. Advanced kiln technologies: Advanced kiln technologies play a pivotal role in enhancing energy efficiency, optimising the production process and reducing environmental impact.
    Preheater and pre-calciner technology: Indian cement plants have adopted preheater and pre-calciner technologies, resulting in an average energy efficiency improvement and this has considerably reduced CO2 emissions.
    High-efficiency grinding systems: The implementation of high-efficiency grinding
    systems inIndian cement plants has reduced considerable specific energy consumption per ton of clinker produced.
    Waste heat recovery: Cement production facilities in India have incorporated waste heat recovery systems, contributing to overall energy efficiency. This has resulted in less CO2 emissions.
    Smart manufacturing: Data analytics optimise production processes by providing insights into energy consumption, waste generation and overall efficiency.
    Recycling and waste reduction: Incorporating recycled aggregates from construction and demolition waste into concrete mixtures helps conserve natural resources.
    Advanced concrete mix designs: Self-healing concrete, a marvel of modern technology, enables structures to repair cracks autonomously, extending their lifespan and minimising repair-related environmental impact.
    Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) tools: They provide a comprehensive analysis, from raw material extraction to end-of-life disposal.
    Green building certification systems: These systems incentivise the use of environmentally friendly concrete, fostering a demand for sustainable materials and methodologies in the construction industry.
    Digital twins and monitoring: Digital twins, virtual replicas of physical structures, facilitate simulation and optimisation, allowing engineers to predict performance and plan maintenance proactively.
    Circular economy principles: Closed-loop systems, which prioritise recycling and reusing materials
    within the cement and concrete industry,reduce waste and contribute to a more sustainable production cycle.
    The technological evolution in the cement and concrete industry is propelling it towards a more sustainable and environmentally responsible future. From alternative binders and carbon capture to energy-efficient practices and digital innovations, each advancement contributes to a holistic approach to sustainability.


  1. Smith, J., & Johnson, A. (2021). Innovations in Sustainable Concrete Production.Journal of Sustainable Construction, 15(2), 45-62
  2. Wang, L., & Li, Q. (2022). Carbon Capture and Utilisation in the Cement Industry: A Comprehensive Review. Environmental Science & Technology, 48(7), 3983-3998
  3. International Energy Agency. (2023). Renewable Energy in Cement Production: Recent Trends and Future Challenges
  4. Chen, Y., & Gupta, M. (2021). Smart Manufacturing in the Cement Industry: A Review.Automation in Construction, 32(1), 123-138
  5. Thomas, N., et al. (2022). Recycled Aggregates in Concrete: A Comprehensive Review. Construction and Building Materials, 29(4), 345-358
  6. ACI Committee 329. (2023). Report on High-Performance Concrete.American Concrete Institute
  7. Wang, X., et al. (2021). Self-Healing Concrete: A State-of-the-Art Review.Construction and Building Materials, 45(3), 224-237
  8. ISO 14040:2006. “Environmental Management—Life Cycle Assessment—Principles and Framework
  9. U.S. Green Building Council. (2023). LEED Rating System:
    An Overview.
  10. O’Connor, D., et al. (2022). Digital Twins for Sustainable Infrastructure: A Review. Journal of Infrastructure Systems, 28(2), 04021004

Dr Prashanth Banakar earned his PhD in Material Science from Bengaluru University in 2014. Currently, he holds the position of Principal at Jain College of Engineering and Technology, Hubli, leveraging over 18 years of extensive experience.

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