Connect with us

Concrete

From ERP to Cloud ERP

Published

on

While companies are investing in R&D and advanced tools to digitalise cement manufacturing processes, there is yet a lot to be achieved in terms of IT progression in the industry. ICR looks closely at the latest innovations that are underway to digitally transform the industry.

Our first brush with IT was with the implementation of ERP more than two decades ago, which brought in the proverbial single moment of truth among a range of internal stakeholders – from sales to production and materials management, including finance and accounting. This single view of things led to better decision making for accounting and reporting. This became the only way to enable businesses to create sale orders on the one hand and purchase orders on the other while planning and coordination became rule-based engagements. For those businesses that needed the Bill of Materials (BOM) to connect suppliers with the nuances of production planning and control, it was a great step-jump to align Master Production Schedules with Material Requirement Planning (MRP) and then Manufacturing Resource Planning (MRP-2). Later on, several modules of ERP created a much-needed interface between customer facing metrics and operationally directed goals that augured well to plan and monitor activities to the achievement of several objective functions.
IT is too general a term to be used any more although it still persists, in fact the three-decade old word was coined to include everything under one reference. The use of technology to enhance our ability to use information for delivering business results is no longer subsumed in the rhetoric of everything digital. That was in the realm of small data, when small was beautiful. Our ability to deal with small data hinged on data analytics that could solve problems through descriptive statistics only. At best, we did regressions to connect variables to make meaningful diagnostics and to create a forward view as in forecasts of all kinds.

The science of data
The world has changed to the new realities of Big Data, where the more the data is, the better our ability to find patterns in it, to be able to diagnose better and in doing so enhance our ability to predict things better. The real step change happened when data could be used to prescribe what needs to be done. IT of yester-years needed to be hardwired into this reality. Some industries have done better than the others. Let us examine what happened in the cement industry.
The cement industry progressed in the conventional lines to connect customer fulfillment processes to the delivery systems and then in turn to the production systems from the quarry to the grinding of cement. Every process got linked and aligned and the critical activities and their output could be better planned and monitored. From declaration of inputs into a programme to the declaration of outputs, from the thousands of SKUs that maintenance teams needed their spares to be managed, to the connecting links of equipment and their maintenance programs, the operating environment from production to maintenance leaped to include data acquisition systems that sometimes sat on top of the database that the ERP system created. Apart from the usual modules of sale order management, planning for production, material management to procurement, almost all modules were implemented to tie the process together in one edifice of ‘truth’. Thus, the costing system could be developed and curated to create several modules of control and monitoring and reporting for management review.
Thereafter the ERP systems progressed with several add-on features that connected control systems (electrical and mechanical) that could interface with the existing database, extract data and do several value-added analytics to better control and administer processes from mining, clinker processing to cement grinding. Sales and Operations Planning processes could use Decision Support Systems (DSS) to enable better fulfillment processes. However, it remained to be seen how much and to what extent this served the need of management to deliver results. Cement companies have largely used manual overrides at will, as it helped them to solve complex puzzles without going through the ordeal of rule-based capture where constraint-based systems work on principles rather than manual dictates and overrides.
The real test of fulfillment was in connecting logistics systems to work to the demand of the customer. This is where it has taken a considerable amount of time to make a clean head-way. On the other hand, logistics was the key cost driver and the enabler of results combined into one.

Digital connections
Two things started to create additional requirements from the customer-end of the process – the ability to do business online and doing it with thousands of digitally connected entities. This meant creation of on-demand systems that must go beyond the manual processes of taking snap-shots of order fulfillment processes and then doing a scenario planning based on our understanding of the physical systems at play, so that certain objective functions could be maximised or minimised. This took us to the realm of algorithms that helped to connect inputs and outputs in planning systems from order booking to fulfillment to the next level of ‘servitisation,’ the cloud-enabled services included.
For Ready Mix Concrete systems, this meant connecting not one but many objective functions where digitally connected delivery systems had to be aligned as well to the discrete nature of planned receipts of a large number of inputs. Logistics being the biggest cost driver in cement, the IT systems had to move to the next level of being cloud-enabled, where the first step was GPRS conversion of all mobile delivery systems.
The progress to digitisation with the existing IT infrastructure and the added demands of mobile interfaces required the much-needed conversion of all trucking and delivery systems to be GPRS enabled; this was no simple task, as it meant putting the entire system to a far more algorithm-enabled instead of manually orchestrated. It was a clarion call to be taken whether or not all movements of goods and services were to be GPRS-enabled with cloud-enabled IT systems. To this effect, much of the cement industry is far less initiated even today, although the benefits of which can be easily calculated and the return on this investment easily shown.
If the cement industry has to move to the next level of digitisation and aspire to be in the same league with the rest of the manufacturing industries, the first step has to be to ‘enable digital tracking devices’ to be connected to ‘Control Towers’ such that the network could be configured on a real time basis. This would solve not only the problem of customers being connected on line with their status of orders on a real time basis but also for the cement company to actually track the real logistics cost of the goods shipped, which under the current status of implementation leaves a lot to be desired. If prices must reflect the logistics cost, this seems like the basic need of the hour.
Digital progression to cloud-enabled ERP is the most logical step, but the cement industry has a lot to do in putting the act together with many stakeholders at play. Only a very few have taken the bold step to move in that direction and globally, too, only a few examples exist.

-Procyon Mukherjee

Concrete

15th Cement EXPO to be held in March 2025 in Hyderabad

Published

on

By

Cement EXPO 2025, which will be held along with the 10th Indian Cement Review Conference and the 8th Indian Cement Review Awards, promises to be bigger, drawing in greater participation, fostering more profound discussions and showcasing the continued evolution of the cement industry.

Mumbai

After the arousing success of the 14th Cement EXPO, which was held on December 14-15, 2023 at Manekshaw Centre along the 9th Indian Cement Review Conference and the 7th Indian Cement Review Awards, the next edition of Cement EXPO will be hosted in March 2025 in Hyderabad. The 15th Cement EXPO promises to be bigger and even more impactful than 2023 edition with more participating companies and larger exhibition area. The 3-in-1 event is organised by FIRST Construction Council (an infrastructure think tank) and Indian Cement Review (ICR).

The 14th Cement EXPO received big thumps up from the industry with over 1,500 senior managers/decision makers visiting the expo. The EXPO was inaugurated by Dr Vibha Dhawan, Director General, TERI; and Ali Emir Adiguzel, Founder and Director, World Cement Association, along with Pratap Padode, Founder, FIRST Construction Council (FCC). Top notch companies from the Indian cement industry’s supply chain presented their latest innovations and offerings in the sprawling two-tiered exhibition space.

The 14th Cement EXPO garnered significant support from the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, Government e-Marketplace (GeM), and the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT), Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Government of India (GoI).

The 7th Indian Cement Review Awards presented awards to 11 companies in different categories recognising their contribution to growth and innovation in the industry. While Parth Jindal (Managing Director of JSW Cement) was conferred with the Indian Cement Review – Person of the Year Award 2023, Vinita Singhania (Vice Chairman and Managing Director at JK Lakshmi Cement Ltd) was presented with the prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award.

With a theme centred on ‘Driving Sustainability Through Technology’, the 9th Indian Cement Review Conference hosted thought provoking discussions, panel sessions, and presentations, showcasing the industry’s commitment to embracing cutting-edge solutions.

The success and resonance of the 2023 edition has laid the groundwork for the 15th Cement EXPO 2025, which is bound to be bigger, drawing in greater participation, fostering more profound discussions and showcasing the continued evolution of the cement industry.

The EXPO, along with the 10th Indian Cement Review Conference and the 8th Indian Cement Review Awards, will contribute significantly to the ongoing transformation of the cement industry.

Continue Reading

Concrete

Shree Cement breaks ground at two sites

Published

on

By

Shree Cement has recently commenced the construction of two new 3.5Mt/yr cement plants in Etah and Prayagraj, Uttar Pradesh, as per news reports. This development is in line with the company’s memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Uttar Pradesh government, signed in February 2023. With the aim of achieving 9Mt/yr in installed capacity by February 2026, the company plans to invest an estimated US$241 million. Currently, Shree Cement operates a 2Mt/yr integrated cement plant in Bulandshahr.

Continue Reading

Concrete

JK Lakshmi Cement records hike in profits

Published

on

By

JK Lakshmi Cement announced a significant increase in standalone net profit, which jumped by 69 per cent to Rs.124.06 Crores in the Oct-Dec 2023 quarter. The company achieved a 7 per cent increase in standalone net sales and reported a clinker capacity utilisation of 105 per cent and cement capacity utilisation of 79 per cent in the same quarter. The company attributed its improved profitability to higher volume, better product and sales mix, and a reduction in fuel costs.
In terms of sustainability initiatives, the company is implementing projects to enhance its TSR and WHR capacity, as well as sourcing solar power to increase the share of renewable energy at its Durg Cement Plant. Additionally, the company’s subsidiary, Udaipur Cement Works Ltd (UCWL), successfully commissioned its second clinker line and is expected to commission its cement grinding capacity expansion soon.
The company is also undertaking expansion projects, including increasing clinker capacity and establishing cement grinding units at various locations, with a proposed investment of Rs.2,500 crores. Funding for this project is proposed to be through term loans from banks and internal accruals. The company also announced an interim dividend of 40 per cent.

Continue Reading

Trending News

SUBSCRIBE TO THE NEWSLETTER

 

Don't miss out on valuable insights and opportunities to connect with like minded professionals.

 


    This will close in 0 seconds