"Consultants in cement industry play a great role not only at the starting of the plant but more during its operations. Importance has further increased due to large capacity plants in operation, intense competition, various resource constraints and adherence to various norms and standards. Consultants can make the loosing unit proﬁtable. They can raise the skills of the personnel both on technological front as well managerial competencies."
Dr. J P Saxena, an international expert in areas of industrial operations, such as operations management, supply chain and logistics management, energy management, maintenance management, project management and inventory management shares his views with Sandeep Sharma about his contribution to the cement industry, role and importance of consultant, opportunities available, challenges before the cement sector, verticals and geographies likely to drive demand for cement. Edited excerpts…
Could you enlighten us about your contribution to the cement industry in India?
I am serving cement industry for more than three and a half decades. During this period I have worked for 19 years in National Council for Cement & Building Materials. I left NCBM IN 1995 as Director (R&D). Thereafter I served in Saudi Cement Company, Saudi Arabia as Consulting Engineer for 12 years. Presently, I am a freelance consultant along with my regular employment as Advisor – Decision Sciences in Amity Business School, Amity University Uttar Pradesh, Noida (UP).
My contribution to Indian Cement industry started in 1976 with National Council for Cement and Building Materials (NCBM). My contributions in the areas of Cement Plant maintenance, Energy Conservation, Consultancy, Training, Research and Development have been well recognized. The concept of predictive maintenance also known as Condition Monitoring of plant and machinery was popularized by me in Indian cement industry with the latest techniques practiced in Holderbank cement plant at Missisuaga and many other cement plants in Canada. My study visit of cement plants in Canada under the sponsorship of UNDP helped the Indian cement industry with a new approach to the ﬁeld of maintenance and in improving the productivity. I also contributed to the energy conservation and management activities in cement industry. Plant Maintenance and Energy Audit programs in NCBM were started under my leadership. I conducted number of training programs on energy conservation, energy audits & energy management to engineers and managers of cement industry. National Energy Efﬁciency Award in Cement Industry was instituted under my leadership. I was a member of the Energy Committee set up by Planning Commission, Government of India. I was also a member of the Committee to evaluate National Energy Awards for industrial sectors set up by Department of Power, Government of India. While working with NCBM I have organized Round Table Conference on ‘Improvement in coal utilization in cement manufacturing’, July 1987 and National Seminar on Energy Audit in cement industry, May 1987. I also carried out the project ‘Assessment of Energy Use Pattern in Indian Cement Industry, March 1994’. As a free lance consultant I have conducted a large number of training programs in the areas of plant maintenance, materials handling, materials management and supply chain management. My training programs on maintenance of cement rotary kiln have beneﬁted number of cement plants like Dalmia Cement Rajgangpur, Jaypee Rewa, Jaypee Baga, Jaypee Kutch and Jaypee Dalla. I have also given training to ACC executives on supply chain and logistics management thorough NCBM program. I was part on high level team.
Besides these contributions, I consider my most important contribution to the cement industry of my two books ‘Cement Rotary Kiln – Total Productive Maintenance, Techniques and Management’ and ‘Refractory Engineering and Kiln Maintenance in Cement Plants’.
On behalf of United Nations Development Program, I lead a team to assist Libyan Cement Company in improving the up- time of their plants. Cement plants in Nigeria, Bhutan and Nepal were also helped in the area of productivity.
What kind of role, importance and opportunities do you see for consultants in India?
Consultants in cement industry play a great role not only at the starting of the plant but more during its operations. Importance has further increased due to large capacity plants in operation, intense competition, various resource constraints and adherence to various norms and standards. Consultants can make the loosing unit proﬁtable. They can raise the skills of the personnel both on technological front as well managerial competencies.
Would you take us through the cement plant lifecycle? Where does the role of consultant starts and end in this process?
Consultant helps the plant at the initiation stage in feasibility study and detailed project report. They also help in overcoming the teething problems in the plant. During the long period of operations, the contribution of consultant is to ensure the productivity of the plant. As the plant becomes old, the role of consultant further increases due to rise in the failures of plant and machinery. Training of existing manpower as well as new recruits is very critical for the success of the plants. Consultant creates value by providing training to the personnel.
How far consultants are required and involved post plant set up?
Post plant set up is very crucial period for remaining competitive in the market. Consultants can help the plant in laying down systems, procedures and policies commensurate to the needs of each plant. They can help in streamlining various problems of the plants. Problem solving, optimization and training and development are the areas, where the need of the consultant is always felt.
What’s your take on the level of technology being adopted by Cement producers in India?
Indian cement industry is a mirror of some of the most advanced technology and innovative ideas. World’s largest and most modern plant operates in India. India being the 2nd largest cement producer in the world faces many challenges. It has to keep the pace to improve its operations remain leadership and a leading force.
What kind of energy efﬁciency measures do you recommend to your clients in India? In percentage terms, what can be the overall savings in production cost?
There are many areas for saving energy in cement industry. In almost every case, energy can be saved by stoppages of air or gas leakages from the system, effective maintenance of plant and machinery, improvement in plant layout, improvements in systems arrangement, improving work culture, inculcating the ownership feeling etc without major investments.
Incorporation of energy efﬁcient systems and equipment will greatly accelerate the pace of saving energy. Effective utilization of coal, good refractory management, co-generation of power, computerization and use of management tools can further help cement plants in saving energy.
How is the industry response till date to your solutions and services? Please share with us details of your role in some of the prestigious cement plants in India.
Response to my efforts has been tremendous wherever I got the opportunity. I have provided consultancy services in the areas of maintenance, materials management, project management to two large cement plants in Gujarat. My training programs on advances in kiln maintenance and supply chain & logistics management have been appreciated very much. Names of some the plants have been mentioned above.
What are the challenges faced by the Indian Cement industry as of now?
Cement industry is going to face problems in transportation of its ﬁnished product and transportation of ﬂy ash from power plants to the cement plant. Packaging is another challenging area. Operational efﬁciency, capacity utilization and maintaining high productivity is of great importance for continuing to remain competitive. High cost of energy is another issue of concern.
Which are the verticals and geographies most likely to drive demand for cement in the near and medium term?
The southern India has the largest capacity and intense competition could be seen among the cement producers. The most important driver for cement demand is urban housing sector. Infrastructure development is also going to create demand for cement.
What kind of role do you see for the Government & private sector to boost demand for cement?
Government can do a lot by investment in infrastructure and housing sector projects. Private sector can also take lead in this direction. Public Private Partnership (PPP) approach will go a long way to keep the cement industry vibrant.