- Vivek Chawla, Whole-time Director & CEO, Emami Cement Limited
You are one of the first few cement manufacturers to opt for lab automation. What are the latest offerings from lab automation suppliers?
Yes, we are the users of lab automation for quality control of Emami Double Bull Cement. Analysis of raw materials and cement and its control are the most important and integral process for us. Most of the companies deployed manpower for collection and preparation of sample, which creates manual lapses and error in sample itself which ultimately affects the quality of product and its control actions.
At Emami Cement, we collect the sample through auto samplers controlled by robotic operations which are programmed in robo PC. This ensures timely sample collection with utmost safety and without any human intervention.
The other features include: auto sampling; auto sample preparation and analysis; provides safe, fast and reliable information; integrates all cement quality-control activities in a single system; and incorporates in-depth understanding of the production process.
Latest offering by lab automation people to control entire quality from mining to cement production like pile analysis and control, Blend Ratio analysis and control software, automatic free lime calculation, Blaine analyser, automatic carbon sulphur analysers, etc.
What is the cost and/or quality benefits that can the customer can expect as a return on their investment?
We are able to produce the best and consistent quality of cement due to consistency in quality checks across value chain of manufacturing process. We ensure that our customer gets the premium quality and strength more than the expectation (Mazbooti Ummeed Se Zyada).
Is productivity a major benefit for clients?
We believe to drive growth through quality and innovation in products and services. Our robotic lab is one the examples to support the above statement. The integrated plant based at Risda, Baloda Bazaar and the grinding plant at Panagarhùboth equipped with cutting-edge technologyùhave been established in collaboration with specialists FLSmidth (Denmark) and GEBR Pfeiffer (Germany).
How seamless is the integration provided by your system?
The lab automation system, which is integrated with various automation systems like cross belt analyser (CBA), Plant Central Control DCS system for Ratio Control of Raw Mix feed, is based on sample analysis. The integration between laboratory and power control enabled us to get uniform quality of raw mix, which in turn helps us to get stable running of kiln and cement mills with consistent quality.
What is the cycle time for delivery and installation of such a lab automation system from concept to commissioning in a Greenfield situation?
The cycle time typically is eight months for such installations depends on plant readiness and infrastructure availability
Do you think it will be beneficial to opt for renovation/ retrofit of existing plants?
Yes, it will certainly give benefit in terms of consistent quality
What is the growth outlook for the Indian cement industry and what are your investment/ expansion plans for the country?
The cement industry is experiencing healthy growth. There has been 14 per cent growth in the first quarter of FY18-19 compared to the same period last year. A dip in sales volume is expected during the monsoons, post which the volumes are expected to pick up from Q3. The upcoming elections in West Bengal and at the Centre are further expected to have a positive effect on volume increase due to a spurt in infrastructural activities. The industry is currently operating at 67 per cent capacity utilisation. This is expected to increase to 75 per cent in the next five years. With regards to the consumption levels, the housing segment is the biggest consumer of cement with 67 per cent demand followed by infrastructure with 13 per cent demand.
We have two mining leases (one in Rajasthan and another in Andhra Pradesh). We shall be setting up clinkering units with split grinding facilities in both the states in next 3 to 5 years. We are also planning to increase our existing capacities to make stronger presence in eastern part of India.