Raja Mukherjee, National Head - Training, Technical and Marketing, Eureka Forbes.
With most of the regulations following international standards, it is not far that internationally accepted cleaning systems would be a part and parcel of the cement plants across India. In the production process, many majors like Ultratech, Shree cement, Ambuja, Lafarge, have already made inroads into this concept, says Raja Mukherjee, National Head - Training, Technical and Marketing, Eureka Forbes. Excerpts from the interview...
What is the growth potential for industrial vacuum cleaning system from cement plants?
Material spillage in the manufacturing process is the major challenge which affects the machinery, the production process and poses health and safety concerns for the employees. With the ever-growing depletion of non-renewable resources in the cement industry, recycling of raw material (and processed material) is the order of the day. Traditionally, backhoe loaders or other manual processes are used to remove spilled material from production and stock areas and they are tedious, labour oriented and ineffective thus costly.
Sometimes spillages in production areas, say for example on conveyor belts, can cause the production to stop burning a hole in the treasury due to the downtime of the machinery.
A vacuum cleaning system, whether online, offline or mobile truck-mounted, is an effective system which enables hundred percent collection of debris and material with proper ´customised´ collection mechanisms which gel in with the plant infrastructure. There are possibilities of single point collection and multiple point collection all controlled remotely. Hence when you have an option of pure collection, recycling option, prevention of safety hazards and provision of a dust-free work environment, the ´vacuum concept´ has a growth potential.
What is the percentage of cement plants that have opted for these advanced systems?
Cement industries have now begun to accept the vacuum systems as the best possible alternative to manual and blowing methods. Though less in percentage, but majors in this segment have already started interacting with vendors for similar solutions.
Are the existing statutory requirements good enough that these pollution/cleaning control systems are a must in a cement plant?
With the advent of new fugitive norms of emission, one has to minimise the dust content that occur due to spillages and the conveying systems. Even plant areas and access roads need to be kept dust free as per the norms which requires efficient vacuum sweeping systems. With most of the regulation following international standards, it is not far that internationally accepted cleaning systems would be a part and parcel of the cement plants across India.
Brief us on the range of cleaning system solutions offered by Eureka Forbes for cement plants?
Eureka Forbes has been pioneering the concept of health and hygiene in India with its vacuum systems and water purification systems. Its institutional arm called Forbes Professionals has up scaled these products to customised ones for the industries. The vacuum cleaning systems range from industrial vacuum cleaners for point use to centralised vacuum systems for remote multipoint collection. In some cases one may require mobile systems to enable them to collect material from different plants hence we have a truck mounted vacuum system.
Outdoor floor cleaning solutions in the form of mechanical and vacuum sweepers and auto scrubber dryers too find place in cement plants. High pressure water cleaners too create an impactful cleaning option for various outdoor areas with pressures ranging from 160-230 bar with single phase, three phase and engine driven variants.
What are the major advantages of these systems?
Thanks to our long experience, we have developed technical solutions and vacuum equipment specific for this field. All our equipment, thanks to the high suction capacity, allows a short return on the investment. In particular they allows:
1) clean easily and quickly the combustion lines
2) keep the production site clean and increase the safety of the operators
3) keep the production lines clean and reduce the stops of production for failure
4) Make maintenance intervention quickly and in a safe way
5) Clean the plant with just one or two internal operators
6) To respect the environmental rules
Could you brief us on the durability /maintenance aspects of the systems, especially the change over time for filters used?
The systems offered by us have a service life of 8-10 years if run as per the SOPs provided in the user manuals. Since this a closed loop system, there is bare minimum maintenance parameters which is the USP of the system. Filter cleaning is automatic during the processes enabled through a compressed air purging system which enhance the life of the filter. This in addition to the periodic filter cleaning at prescribes intervals makes its replacement interval long.
All the pipings are metal with chromium plated or steel (as per requirement) which enhances the life of the carrier system Hence a system which requires minimum consumables and delivers enhanced productivity, is a system to adopt in today´s environment conscious cement plants.
What are the parameters one has to look into when opting for a particular type of cleaning system to suit the work environment?
To decide on a particular system, a proper site survey is conducted to understand the needs of the customers and a rough sketch of the solution is prepared. A 3D model is created and the machine is selected based on the type of material to be collected like its size, density, whether corrosive, whether inflammable, collection rate, number of collection points, distance of collection points, type of discharge/removal, whether recycling of collected material is required etc. No major infrastructural changes are required for the commissioning as this form a part of the present system.
To what extent these solutions offered help enhance productivity and process optimisation in cement plants?
The catch is not to let your production process stop due to spillages that ultimatelyeffects the conveyors, its rollers causing jams and breakdowns. A day of breakdown maintenance is a huge expense as compared to the investment. The reduction of labours in today´s times is itself a major saving on the overheads and they could be utilised in some other productive work.
The recycling of the spilled material (or raw material) back into the production process would land up providing additional savings to the total production process. Adhering to the environmental norm and keeping the work places free from dust is a major intangible benefit which increases productivity of the employees and plays a role in the process optimisation.
In the entire production chain which all areas these systems are required?
Going by the setup of a traditional cement plant, centralised vacuum systems could be installed at the conveyor connecting the crusher house to the storage yard, then at the conveyor connecting the storage yard to the raw mill. It could be used to collect fly ash at the incinerators, and it could be widely used in packing and loading areas. In non-production areas like connecting roads integrated sweepers could keep them dust free. The admin block could be kept clean and hygienic with auto scrubber dryers and specialised cleaning chemicals.
In a nut shell, since cleaning is the key to increased productivity (as per 5S and Kaizen) specialised equipment is also necessary to maintain the standards required for productive output.
To what extent cement manufacturers have accepted the use of these cleaning systems? Is cost a deterrent?
All new systems face road blocks initially, but when the basic idea of inception is evident and correlated to enhance productivity its acceptance would be logical and necessary. The initial investment of the system is negligible as compared to the tangible and intangible benefits that this provides to the production process.
What are the major challenges as a solution provider you face?
Majority of the cleaning and spillage management related challenges of the cement industries are catered by us. Hence the only ones left for us are acceptance of the concept by the plant owners and taking this forward.
What differentiate Eureka Forbes from competition?
There are very few solution providers for these systems in India, but Eureka Forbes has many differentiating factors. Eureka Forbes is the only company that provided an ATEX certified machine that is required for handling fine dust as cement. This gives the machines and the system protection against any hazardous explosion. It unmatched technical competency would be able to suggest the right machine for the right application. Its Pan India ´own´ service network enable multiple and frequent touch points for the users. Its state of the art European certified product has a good life cycle adding to the ROI.
How do you assess the future scenario?
The way the government has initiated the ´Swachch Bharat´ mission sends a clear signal as to where the county is poised and where the government intends to take it. In the production process, majors players have already made inroads into this concept. Eureka Forbes has had various expressions of interest for this concept which definitely sends us positive vibes from this segment of industry.