Indian cement industry is among the best in the world when it comes to energy efficiency. However, specialised training is essential to face and overcome certain unique challenges of the Indian cement industry.
The Indian cement industry is poised for a big growth considering the various infrastructural developments planned by the Government of India and the demand for housing all over the country. The Government of India has planned to invest Rs 5.94 lakh crore in the infrastructural sector with an additional allocation of Rs 2.04 crore for smart cities in the Union Budget of 2017-18. GST, demonetisation and some other factors have affected the growth of the industry temporarily but things are expected to stabilise soon. The Central Government has an ambitious plan to provide housing for all citizens by 2022. Increased allocation to rural housing under Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojna-Gramin scheme and developing smart cities will boost demand. Additional efforts in development of ports under "Sagarmala" and nation-wide road network development under "Bharatmala" will give impetus to cement demand. Nine new airports are on the anvil.
From the chart (next page) it is pertinent that housing sector will play a major role in boosting growth of Indian cement industry. The consumption of cement in agricultural sector is negligible today but as announced in the union budget of 2017-18, this sector is being given due importance.This will contribute to a substantial demand for cement for building warehouses and other logistics in the rural sector. International Monetary Fund (IMF) in its latest update has forecasted a GDP growth of 7.4 per cent next year. If all goes well CLSA expects a volume growth in new home construction to a compounded annual growth rate to about 8 per cent over the next seven years. Cement is a cyclical commodity with good correlation with GDP. With the projected GDP growth of 7.5 to 8.0 per cent in the next few years, cement demand will also increase. The present installed capacity of cement manufacturing is around 435 MT/year. It is estimated that India would need 550 to 600 MT/ annum by 2025. This means an additional capacity of 100 to 150 MTs/ annum need to be installed by 2025. In spite of being the second largest cement producer in the world the per capita consumption in India is only 225 kg, which is much lower than the world average of 500 kg and far behind China where it is more than 1,000 kg. These figures indicate that India has a long way to go to be called a developed nation. However Indian economy is the fifth largest economy as of now and is expected to become third largest very soon. This gives the possibility of huge expansion of the Indian cement industry.
Future technical manpower requirement
Getting skilled manpower for the industry is a challenge. There is a big gap between availability and demand. With the anticipated addition of another 150 MT/annum by 2025, it is estimated that the cement industry will require around 66,000 skilled technical manpower for greenfield projects, brownfield expansion and captive power plant operations.
Need for specialised manpower
Indian cement industry is among the best in the world when it comes to energy efficiency. However specialised training is essential to face and overcome certain unique challenges of the Indian cement industry. The major ones are listed as follows:
Depletion of high-grade limestone. We need to add more capacity with marginal and sub marginal grades of limestone. Also depletion of good quality mineral gypsum and finding large volumes of alternative material is also concerning.
Non availability of good quality cheaper fuel. The plants have to balance their fuel cost without diluting product quality. A rapid stride has to be taken to use alternate fuels and raw materials (AFR). This requires specialised skills.
Further improvements in energy efficiency is necessary by installing WHR systems and retrofitting with energy efficient equipment.
Compliances with stricter environmental and safety norms.
Implementing innovative ideas and methods to keep production cost low in view of the ever increasing cost of inputs like raw materials, fuels, logistics, taxes, etc.
There is shortage of skilled manpower in the industry who can handle such burning issues. There is hue and cry in the country saying that people are not getting employment. On the other hand the manufacturers complain that they do not get the rightly skilled manpower. There is a serious gap between what is wanted and what is available. To address all these issues it is necessary to:
Design training programmes which are practical in nature and completely wedded to the requirement of the construction industry. In this respect, a close co-ordination of industry and academics is the need of the hour.
Enhance skills of the semi-skilled workers to enable them to do their jobs in a scientific manner for better quality and productivity
Make a pool of people ready for the future growth of the cement and construction industry
Initiatives taken by organisations
It is worthwhile to mention that the National Council for Cement and Building Materials (NCCBM) has considerable contribution in this area. They are conducting various programmes to train fresh graduates. They are also regularly conducting short term, customised and contract programmes for improving skills of technical personnel of plants. Few universities and colleges have implemented diploma courses in cement technology but are not doing that well perhaps because their courses are not designed as per industry needs and limitations of cement plant experience in their faculties.With the anticipated rapid growth of the industry all these efforts may not be sufficient.
Initiatives taken by AKS University
Keeping all these requirements in mind it is worthwhile to mention an innovative University called AKS University in Satna, Madhya Pradesh. This university had the foresight of this future demand of India and started conducting degree anddiploma courses in cement technology from the year 2012 after getting UGC approval. The visionary of AKS University is Er Anant Kumar Soni who started this humble journey to impart quality education at affordable price to the rural masses. He sensed long back that being located in a cement hub, it will be a great service to the rural poor if they are trained to take up employment in cement plants in this limestone rich belt of Satna. He vowed to make education affordablewithout any capitation fees. His objective is to raise the level of rural education and bring it at par with urban levels and trainthe poor students for employment.
AKS University is spread over an area of more than 100 acres of land in the Satna town of Madhya Pradesh, adjacent to NH-7. It has developed 4.5 lakh sqft of lecture rooms, workshops, state of the art laboratories, agriculture research farms, incubation center etc. At present the AKS University is offering 52 courses under 12 faculties and more than 7,500 students are enrolled for the session 2017-18.
AKS University credentials Within a short duration of five years, AKS University has been awarded various credentials for its achievements, this are listed below.
AKS University, in addition to cement technology, offers various Diploma, B. Tech., M. Tech andPh. D programmes in most of the courses. While many private universities are reporting shortfall in the intake of students in the engineering streams, AKS University is experiencing higher intakes especially in the agriculture and mining departments. Mention must be made of the innovative approaches carried out in the mining department which is bringing laurels to the university. Students are sent to present technical papers in internationals seminars. The department organises various seminars in the country where well known persons from the Indian mining industry are felicitated and givenlife time achievement awards. This department has eight professors who are ex general managers from Coal India Limited.
Considerable efforts are taken to ensure good attendance among students as well as professors. The administration ensures that all courses are actually taken and completed in time inclusive of revision classes. Industry academic coordination and networking is given the topmost priority.
Why Cement Technology (CT) from AKS University?
Achievements of AKS University
1.First batch of B.Tech students passed out in 2015
2.More the 50per cent students placed in cement plants
3.Carrying out short term courses (three to six months) for enhancing skills of plant personnel (workers and staff) on cement technology. Completed two programmes for Prism Cement Ltd. Satna and further programmes are in offing.
Negotiation with UltraTech are on to train masons on a regular basis. These masons will be picked out by them.
4.Established a name in imparting high quality training programmes for techno-marketing professionals of cement industry. This is a well established popular training programme highly appreciated by industry.
Application engineering is an area that needs a lot of manpower. Now-a-days, this has emerged as a necessary activity of cement marketing. These engineers are responsible for technical marketing of cement and assist the customers throughout the construction process. They also handle quality complaints. TheAKS three-year diploma course, which is being renamed as diploma in cement and concrete technology, is perhaps the best fit degree for techno marketing personnel in rural areas as they know both sides of the game (cement and concrete ). They can do all the dirty work better as compared to a B.Tech/Diploma in civil engineering.
AKS University has conducted numerous short-term courses for techno marketing professionals for companies like UltraTech, KJS Cement, etc. with grand success. These are residential programmes with certification from Centre of Continuing Education, Department of Cement Technology, AKS University, Satna.
The department can train fresh personnel selected by cement manufacturers and make them industry ready either with the Diploma or B.Tech programme in cement technology which are on campus programmes. Short term customised courses are also feasible.New cement companies who have started their greenfield projects can send their entire team of fresh recruits to AKS so that they get professionally trained by the time the plant is ready for commissioning. Good hostel facilities are available in Satna town. Local people from surroundings of Cement plants located in rural areas have been found to be assets for the industry both in the past and present. These people show lot of dedication and loyalty compared to people from urban areas Moreover creating local employment is also compulsory as part of CSR schemes. AKS University has all the expertise to nurture these poor people from rural areas and make them industry ready.
With the expected spurt in demand for technical personnel in cement industry, which is imminent, it is worthwhile to have a serious thought on manpower development and skill enhancement of existing manpower. Actions need to be taken right now so that the industry is not starved of skilled personnel. It is worthwhile if cement manufacturers recruit cement technologists who are already trained by institutes like AKS University. Such trained personnel with degree or diploma in cement technology are industry ready and only need to be customised to the working of individual cement manufacturers who recruit them. This will reduce the gestation period to take up independent supervisory and other roles. There are very few institutions in India imparting quality cement technology programmes in India. AKS University, Satna is already in this field for past five years and has matured enough to be a partner to generate competent manpower for the Indian cement industry at affordable cost. Customised short-term courses are also feasible as per requirement of individual cement manufacturers.
About the authors:
Prof KN Bhattacharjee and Prof GC Mishra of Department of Cement Technology AKS University Satna. Prof KN Bhattacharjee is the corresponding author. He can be contacted on: Email: firstname.lastname@example.org| Mob: 91-9340898824.