Carsten Riisberg Lund, Managing Director - FLSmidth India
FLSmidth has been in business in India for more than 100 years. Carsten Riisberg Lund, Managing Director, FLSmidth India, speaks on his company¦s operations and the state of the Indian cement industry.
You have had a very long association with India as a company, what have been the milestones in your relationship? How do you see the future?
In India, we have been doing business for more than 100 years. We delivered our first cement plant in India during 1904, our first step to establish our foothold in India. With sound strategy and innovative thinking, FLSmidth has grown into a major player in the Indian cement industry over the past 100 years. For a long period, we have also worked in close collaboration with Larsen & Toubro and shared knowledge about our cement industry products and technologies.
The Indian cement industry saw a tremendous boom during the early 2000s in sync with the Indian economy, which provided a solid foundation for FLSmidth to ex-pand its operations. We witnessed the various phases of the country¦s development and we grew along.
The Indian operations of the company are based in the state-of-the-art and LEED certified facility in Chennai. As a part of FLSmidth¦s globalisation, our R&D centre was also built in Chennai which conducts cement tests and advanced analysis for global projects as well as meets our Indian customers¦ requirements.
We have also expanded our production capabilities even before ¦Make in India¦ was launched. Our manufacturing units in Haryana and Tamil Nadu support the entire FLSmidth Group to serve the domestic and international customers of global cement and mineral industries.
Today, with a more than 3000-strong workforce and as a major project and technology centre, we have firmly established our presence in India. We continue to look forward to participate in our customers¦ growth in India and abroad, having adopted a holistic approach in our business strategy. We are here to support our customers with all aspects of their production; from single machinery to combined systems and complete turnkey projects. We also help customers with a comprehensive range of services, including plant process and performance optimisation, preventive maintenance programme, Computerized Maintenance Management System and many more.
Tell us something on FLSmidth¦s overall business worldwide, and operations specific to India....
We are a one source, full service provider to the global cement and minerals industries. ¦Full-service provider¦ means supplying everything from single products and services to complete plants or production lines and full operation and maintenance solutions.
We focus on cement, coal, copper, gold, iron ore and fertilizers, providing one source for the products, complete solutions and services they need. With offices in more than 50 countries and 13,000 employees worldwide, we are on the spot locally to help customers with every stage of their operational process, from strategic planning to overcoming everyday challenges and facility lifecycle management.
We have supplied more than 100 kiln systems in India which accounts for more than 1/3rd of the kiln capacity in India. We have the strongest engineering, project execution and service setup to fulfill the range of customer requirements and help them achieve high levels of productivity and efficiency of their cement plants.
How do you maintain your technological lead in whatever you do?
We constantly aim our efforts to improve the product portfolio as well as basic research to fulfill customers¦ future needs for innovative technical solutions, high reliability and availability, minimum environmental impact and the lowest possible lifecycle costs. FLSmidth spends a significant amount on R&D to ensure environmentally sound solutions to the challenges faced by our customers. Our experience from designing and installing plants and from supplying all core equipment and technologies critical for the process flow, is what enables us to be the industry leader in service. And our practical experience from maintaining and operating the plants is fed straight back into our product innovation which helps shorten our time-to-market.
We strongly believe in a collaborative approach to R&D. We increasingly develop solutions together with our customers or form partnerships with other industry process leaders, like the joint development with one of the catalysis experts Haldor Tops++e A/S, and most recently with world leading chemical company BASF GmbH, to ensure a targeted co-development with rapidly commercialised products.
Give us some details of the simulator-based training you offer to industry personnel. What are the success factors?
ECS/CEMulator« is a high technological breakthrough in development of an advanced environment for training of process operators and engineers in the cement industry. It is an absolute realistic simulator of cement plant process.
It is risk-free training which helps operators and engineers to understand the fundamentals as they are able to get realistic responses to their actions and practice different scenarios and train correct actions without jeopardising the plant equipment. ECS/CEMulator« has helped many of our customers in developing the skills of their operators and process engineers, which in turn improved their plant operational efficiency.
Your expertise in process engineering has been encapsulated in your various products. Give us some basic information on the same.
Process design forms the backbone for providing the complete flow sheet of the cement plant. Our primary focus areas of process are raw material sampling and analysis from the quarry so that the right process design for raw mix design can be made. This also means the capability to test the raw material for grindability and burnability. Consequently the grinding, pyro and other core areas are optimally designed to meet the customers¦ requirements.
Pollution control equipment, both in terms of particulate emissions and gaseous emissions such as NOx and SOx, are areas of expertise for FLSmidth and can meet the stringent pollution norms. We believe that our collaborative global platform of experience and expertise is an important aspect in providing competitive and reliable process knowhow.
We strongly ensure that while we address process (and product) engineering, our customer¦s main expectations are met regarding low energy consumption, low emissions, high productivity and availability, with ease of operation and maintenance.
As an important partner of the industry, in which direction do you see the Indian cement sector heading?
India is one of the fastest growing economies in the world and the country¦s demand for cement is expected to experience a significant increase as the Government of India prioritises infrastructure development, and has mega constructions projects, like Smart Cities in the pipeline.
We also expect that the Indian cement industry will come out of the current imbalance on the ¦capacity vs demand¦ front within the next two or three years, because of the positive growth trajectory. We anticipate a slow upward development with a cement demand to be in the range of 9-10 per cent in the near future. We also have other reasons to be optimistic about the Indian cement industry growth - mainly significant reforms of laws and regulations and increased infrastructure spend. So, it is going to move up.
You have a manufacturing base and clients both in China and India. How are the two markets different?
India and China are quite different markets; be it cement industry or cement players. Cement equipment suppliers in China traditionally focus on individual products. But, as I mentioned earlier, we believe in a holistic approach and support our customers with complete systems and processes. We continue to strive to develop products and technologies to optimise cost, increase plant efficiency, reduce energy consumption and deliver low-cost maintenance. Our approach strongly supports the Indian cement players who focus on achieving global standards in production, safety and energy, by utilising new technology and innovative solutions.
What are the technological advancements which are available with you but have not found a market in India?
India has a high absorption of latest technological advancements in general - especially within the products that reduce energy consumption, like vertical roller mills, roller presses and high efficiency clinker coolers.
Still, some of our products have not reached the Indian market yet. For instance, the FLSmidth HOTDISC« combustion device that can burn bulk alternate fuels (like full automobile tyres) has not been successful in India compared to other countries. The reason behind is that India has many reuses for automobile tyres traditionally - hence availability of whole tyres is an issue.
We have also launched many automation and pollution control products for which we hope to expand our market share in India. Soon, our new JETFLEX« burner will be launched.
Give us a brief on your CSR activities. How do you involve your employees in the initiative?
The underlying rationale behind all our CSR activities is to create value for our main stakeholders: customers, shareholders, employees, suppliers and the community. We have signed the UN Global Compact in November 2008 and we are committed to support the United Nations¦ ten principles regarding human rights, labour, environment and anti-corruption.
We strive to give back to the country and communities whom we work with. We were actively involved in providing relief activities and much-needed supplies for the affected during the floods in Chennai last year. We have also contributed to the Prime Minister¦s Relief Fund. We partner with institutions to support children¦s education and hospitals for healthcare. We have a team, with a representation from employees and management, which monitors the implementation of these projects and also finds new opportunities to give back to society in coordination with top management.
FLSmidth has a strong focus on doing business in India and adjacent markets, as it has done for more than 100 years. FLSmidth India is a manufacturing hub as well as a technical and project centre since 1906.
One-third of the total 13,000 strong workforce of FLSmidth is based in India with Chennai as the main office. FLSmidth globally generates annual revenue of approximately DKK 20 billion.
In addition to catering to the Indian business, FLSmidth India supports off-shoring of its capabilities to other centres of the company. The global services include engineering, after-sales services, financial services, quality and supplier development, R&D and IT services.
Carsten Riisberg Lund
Carsten Riisberg Lund (53) has been Managing Director and Country Head of FLSmidth India since January 2015. He has been working for FLSmidth since 1988. Lund was formerly President of Material Handling Division (2012-2015); Global ERP Programme Director, FLSmidth (2011-2012); CEO FLSmidth Airtech, (2007-2011); Business Unit Manager, Gas Cleaning Systems, FLSmidth Airtech (2004-2007) and Global Products and Technology, FLSmidth Airtech (2002-2004).