We are also actively involved in the research & development of LC-3, another variant of green cement, says Rajnish Kapur – Business Head (Grey Cement Division), JK Cement
The economy is slowly limping back to normalcy. What are the operational strategies you would be adopting to get back organization to the pre-Covid 19 level?
We’ve all changed the way we operate during the Covid-19 crisis. Some changes were forced on us; others represent the height of innovation in a crisis. There’s been a reset of the workforce and work itself, a reset of the employer/employee relationship and a reset of the business ecosystem. For most, the business impact of the pandemic has been negative; for some, positive. In the initial phase of the onset of the pandemic we focused on keeping people safe including all stakeholders and the villages around our plants; kept most essential business functions operating to the extent possible; given the highly disrupted environment, created a viable strategy to ensure business continuity; Made strategic planning a focused activity so that we can respond quickly to the fast changes in business context.
As things settled down and business started inching back to normalcy some of the areas which have emerged as key priorities are incorporate a blend of remote and on site working and adapting best technologies to make it possible; Use of AI/ML to improve and optimization of processes; Focus on renewable energy, on optimizing fixed cost and on secure alternate fuel sourcing; optimize inventory to reduce cost; and Focus on supply chain to improve cost and services
During the Pandemic many organizations have shifted their focus on R&D and digitalization to streamline operation. Please share with us your R&D and digitalization activities?
Every company knows how to pilot new digital initiatives in “normal” times, but very few do so at the scale and speed suddenly required by the Covid-19 crisis. That’s because in normal times, the customer and market penalties for widespread “test and learn” can seem too high, and the organizational obstacles too steep.We at JK Cement, have converted this challenging time into an opportunity and implemented many digital interventions which will give us competitive advantage in future such as We got rid of paperwork like LR/DI copies which helped us in social distancing during Covid. It also helped in becoming environment-friendly by reducing paper usage. Identified more than 100 processes to be converted to digital platform.
The Safety Management System: helped us in ensuring social distancing and mask detection to avoid any virus transmission. We are also implementing facedetection based attendance management system.
Customers are often slow to adjust to new ways of doing things, with traditional adoption curves reflecting this inherent inertia. Organizations that are able to leverage these things into their new offerings during this crisis will see significant first-mover advantages. The Covid-19 has brought all of us closer to technology. The technology adoption has increased many folds. We have launched customer portal which will help us to further enhance transparency with our valued customers. This will lead our field force to focus on business generation activities.
IOT is enormously successful in transportation industry. JKCL has used it at its best be it tracking of fleets, parking management using RFID/sensors, transformation of manual/legacy processes to digitalize auto generated processes through Transport management system.
All of our manufacturing plants are now RFID enabled. This is helping us to track vehicle movement inside the plant more precisely and reduce TAT. Unmanned weigh-bridges are helping in optimizing fixed cost.
CCTV enabled Drones are being used to supervise the raw material piles, labours and to detect any hazardous incident. AI based bag counting has been started which will give benefits in the days to come.
Early decision to develop and implement e-Visit module has helped us in monitoring of field force and touch base with our customers. This tool is designed to help us in contact tracing.
Supply chain is an integral part of the cement industry, from where a major chunk of revenue comes from. There is enough scope for innovation in the supply chain to plug sinking revenue if any. Over the years how have you transformed your supply chain management?
Supply chain cost plays pivotal role in cement companies profitability as 30% of cost of cement comes from logistics only. JKCL sees their supply chain in two ways – firstly from cost perspective (optimized cost) and secondly to provide best services to its customers. To achieve both optimized cost and best service JKCL has evolved itself over the years by implementing best practices of the industry. During Covid, we shifted our focus to build inventory to avoid any sales loss due to pent-up demand. We are recalibrating our supply chain model to optimize cost and service in this new “Normal” situation.
We are working on “Finance Fleet” concept to ensure uninterrupted supplies and freight optimization and maximizing the Inbound-Outbound integration. We are working on maximizing “Stock on Wheels” model to reduce transit time for customer. It is helping customers to manage their working capital and improve cost optimization for us.
We have implemented “E-Auction” to take advantage of supply – demand mismatch and optimize freight cost and are focusing on reducing lead distance to optimize cost.
Cement production releases a huge amount of carbon dioxide responsible for environmental degradation. What are the various initiatives you have taken to reduce CO2 emission? Please share the various technologies you have integrated for the same including carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology?
Cement, a key ingredient in concrete, accounts for about 7% of global CO2 emissions and is the second-largest industrial emitter of CO2 after the iron and steel industry. The clinker formation in the cement manufacturing process accounts for 70% of the total carbon emissions. The remaining 30% of emissions come from the combustion of fuels for power generation. Additionally, factors such as cement plant capacity, the moisture content and burnability of raw materials, and the availability of alternative fuels also influence energy efficiency and the carbon footprint of cement production. Our focus is in four key areas with a combination of several initiatives implemented to reduce CO2 emissions. Our company is working on solutions to reduce the CO2 emission by energy efficiency, alternative fuels, WHR, renewable energy and reducing the clinker ratio. We have reduced total specific net CO2 from 682 to 625 Kg per ton of cementitious product, i.e. 8% reduction in CO2 intensity between 2016 and 2020.
We have taken energy efficiency measures such as use of low thermal conductivity bricks in kiln, computation fluid dynamics (CFD) studies for pressure drop reduction, replacement of old cooler with high efficiency clinker cooler, installation of high efficiency separators for cement mills, installation of roller press with ball mill for pre-grinding of clinker, installation of latest generation high efficiency burners, high efficiency fan & motors, energy efficient blower, VFD, energy efficient compressor, energy efficient water pumps, installation of LED, improving power factor generator. In PAT Cycle-I and II, we have over achieved the targets of energy efficiency.
We have invested for development of facilities for receiving, pre-processing and feeding system of all types of waste materials such as plastic waste, Agro waste, FMCG waste, RDF/SCF, solid waste mix and liquid waste mix etc. By replacing the fossil fuel with these alternative fuels, we have achieved 6% TSR.
Our main focus to reduce the clinker in cement is by substituting with alternative materials such as fly ash, limestone and slag. We have achieved clinker factor to the tune of 0.7.
We are continuously investing to capture the waste gases to produce green power. In FY 2019-20, our green power mix was 15% with a total capacity of 23.2 MW which has recently increased in FY 2020-21 to 42.3 MW.
Please share the various technologies you have integrated for the same including carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology?
With regard to integration for new technologies including carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology, the development of the innovative carbon capture technologies is underway to manufacture next-generation cements that have significant carbon reductions. The future of adoption of Carbon Capture, storage and use (CCS&U) technology will depend on technologically feasible and commercially viability. We are also waiting for the commercialization of Limestone calcined clay Cement (LC3) which will reduce the clinker factor by 50%. We believe that the future of cement will depend on Low Carbon Technologies and Sustainable Alternatives. Our thinking is Clean, Green, Safe and Climate Friendly Operations are Sustainable and Profitable. To meet the Paris Agreement objectives to stabilise global temperatures at “well below 2°C, and towards 1.5°C”, anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases must fall substantially. We are very excited to implement the low carbon roadmap designed for our operations which will substantially lower our CO2 footprint.
Of late, green cement is emerging as a sustainable alternative to traditional cement. What are your views on this and please share with us your green cement portfolio?
The requirement of high strength concrete resulted in production of higher strengths of OPC. The durability of concrete prepared with high strength cements has been questionable. The phenomenon of poor durability is worldwide, and the cost of repairs and maintenance is assuming alarming proportion. India too faces the durability problem, which is quite severe in coastal areas, industrial belts, agricultural beltswhere the aggressive environment exists and accelerates the deterioration of concrete. The only answer to this problem is promotion of blended cements, which has been proven worldwide, the structures build with such green cements are much more durable and maintenance free for a longer period of time.
We are also committed to promotion of blended cement variants which are green and eco-friendly and result into durable concrete.We are dedicated to bringing down the carbon emission levels in our organization from the present India average of 579 Kg. This will also help in conservation of limestone reserves, which are scarce and may last only 30-40 years at the present rate of consumption, and lastly consumption of 70-80% of industrial waste by-products like flay ash /slag which otherwise are again environment threatening and disposal can be very challenging.
Apart from PPC & PSC where replacement of clinker is permitted up to 35/70% respectively, we are also actively involved in the research & development of LC-3, another variant of green cement where BIS is yet to permit commercial production. A government push is further required to drive and promote green cements. Many of the government departments still specify and recommend OPC over blended varieties. There is a need to make it mandatory for all infra projects to adopt blended cement varieties which much greener and more sustainable.
Please share with us the alternatives you are using to replace coal as the primary source of fuel for manufacturing cement? If any
We are using alternative solid and liquid fuels to substitute primary fuels in our plants. Utilization of alternative fuels is a challenging job, and it requires huge investment in storage, treatment and feeding system. We have developed dedicated storage yards for storing solid AFR and are exploring storage possibility for liquid AFR. To pre-process solid AFR, we have installed shredder and are focusing on increasing its utilization. To monitor highly fluctuating AFR quality,we have installed a dedicated AFR labs in our plants. We are also evaluating further investments to pre-process AFR in order to ramp up its usage. In the current scenario we are operating at TSR of 5-6% on overall basis for Grey business and are targeting a TSR of 40% by 2030.
Now, that there are vaccines available to cure Covid-19. What are your plans for the next three years? Is there any plan for expansion, new plant, acquisition in the offing or completing the ongoing project before schedule?
India’s per capita cement consumption is very low compared to other developing countries. India has immense scope for cement growth. Govt push on constructing world class infrastructure will boost the demand in near future. We would certainly want to participate in India’s Growth Story. We will setup new Greenfield / Brownfield plant in the near future.