Meeting the challenge of adding 25 mn tonnes capacity in the next four-five year called for a paradigm shift in thinking and new set of strategies to shorten the learning curve. O P Puranmalka, Business Director, UltraTech Cement, writes about how the shift would help UltraTech move over to the "assembly line" approach to the projects.UltraTech Cement, an Aditya Birla Group company, is today the largest pan India player in cement with 52 million tonnes capacity and services, on an average, over 15,000 sales orders a day. We have set ourselves an audacious target of adding more than 25 million tonnes capacity in the next four to five years, keeping in mind India's strong focus on infrastructure in the 12th Five Year Plan.As the economic scenario in India see-saws between positive optimism to dark gloom, so do the fortunes of many sectors, including cement and allied products. But what we have learnt over the last almost three decades of being in the cement business is that business cycles will come and go, as will temporary lows and highs, but what is long lasting is the role of our industry in partnering our country's growth – in building a new India. And we take pride in being in that vaunted position, to be able to contribute to nation building and being a part of the pain and pleasure associated with it.Integrated Project ManagementRealizing that adding about 50 per cent capacity by greenfield and brownfield expansions calls for a totally new set of strategies and a paradigm shift in thinking, we have restructured the organization, changed the way we look at project execution, skilled our people with new competencies and scaled up our financial planning and cash flow management.Our central Integrated Project Management System (IPMS) encompasses all functions – human resources, finance, engineering, procurement and execution. We created this by realigning our "one team, one project" approach to one where there is a pool of experts at the centre and a decentralized team for execution onsite. This ensured that our learning curve was shortened, resulting in projects being executed within the time and budget allocated with utmost focus on safety.As we gain in experience and knowledge, we can almost have an "assembly line" approach to projects, helping us scale up quickly as the economic scenario improves and India puts infrastructure development on the fast track once again.The Sustainability AngleUltraTech believes that there is a strong case for sustainable development in the cement industry. It joined the Cement Sustainability Initiative (CSI) of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development in 2006.Cement plants are located mainly in dry and arid zones, and the amount of process water consumed by the cement industry is significant. UltraTech developed a three pronged approach to address the situation.• Rain water harvesting was developed to recharge bore wells and maintain the ground water table. Periodic ground water table evaluation is being carried out in line with the guidelines given by the Central Ground Water Authority and the respective pollution control boards. Water bodies in the catchment areas for rain water storage and ground water recharging have been set up. Rain water harvesting systems have also been installed in shopping complexes, on hospital roofs, and at school and mine offices at various Units. These effectively recharge rain water in the bore wells and help maintain ground water levels.• At all units, the treated water from the sewage treatment plant is used for horticulture and process requirements.• In the last five years, every new power plant that we have set up uses air cooled condensers instead of water cooled ones, thus conserving a scarce resource.As a result of its commitment to sustainable development, UltraTech is continuing its investment in energy efficient initiatives, which has resulted in specific heat consumption in its clinker production being one of the lowest. The company is among the early proponents of waste heat recovery and alternative fuel usage in cement operations in India. These initiatives have made UltraTech the first cement company in the world to earn carbon credits.People PowerWe believe in the power of our people—whether in strategising, planning or execution. And hence talent management is a primary tool in our HRM universe. For us rewards and recognition, learning and development and employee wellness are the three pillars on which we base our people policies.A three-day internal event takes place every year in which 15 per cent of our employees come together to interact and bond with each other.• 26 per cent of employees undergo functional, technical and leadership training every year. • Our ratio of promoting internal talent has gone up steadily to 29• A 3-year partnership with DuPont focuses on building a safe working environment with zero accidents, loss and injuries. • A young workforce – about 40 per cent of our people are in their 30s —means greater drive and energy in an organization, as well as innovative thinking.Our focus on building strong leaders bore fruit when the Aditya Birla Group was ranked Number 4 in the Global Top Companies for Leaders and Number 1 in Asia in a comprehensive study of organizational leadership in the world conducted by Aon Hewitt, Fortune Magazine and RBL (a strategic HR and Leadership Advisory firm). In UltraTech, the senior management has a combined expertise and experience of about 3,000 man years – a pointer to the management depth and breadth that is brought to bear on every business decision.UltraTech is on the move, powered by a mix of experience, talent and new energy. As India turns the corner of its economic challenges and focuses on growth and infrastructure development, UltraTech is sure to stand shoulder to shoulder to make the journey not just exciting, but exuberant and meaningful to every Indian.