Cement industry has become more cost effective and efficient by implementing environmental regulation.
Interview with Vivek Patni, Director, Wonder Cement
1.How do you see the year ahead in terms of sale and capacity utilization post pandemic of Covid-19? How about the revival of construction sector?
We see the demand revival from October - December 2020 quarter. We see capacity utilization to be in the range from 65% to 70% on all India basis However, in North region, where we are working, capacity utilization will be in the range of 75%.
2.How has environmental regulation affected the cement industry in the past one decade and how do you expect it to influence it over the next decade?
The Cement Industry has responded to environment regulation very positively. The industry has become more clean and green in last two decade. The industry under its responsibility towards environment has implemented the regulation very effectively. I feel that industry has become more cost effective and efficient by implementing environmental regulation.
The Industry is continuously working on reduction of Greenhouses Gases.
3.What impact you think this will have on the competitiveness of the cement industry, the cost of production, product quality and profitability?
The Cement Industry has become more cost effective by implementing stringent environment regulations. The carbon foot print has reduced by increasing blended Cement, WHRS installation and uses of alternate fuels and Raw materials. These measures not only made industry more environmentally friendly but it reduces the Cost of Production and also improves its efficiency parameters.
4.What are the chances of climate change groups directly or indirectly influencing the Indian cement industry in terms of limiting capacity additions, affecting the choice of fuels, influencing the product mix, etc? What are likely to be the future drivers?
The climate change groups are becoming more and more active. These groups will ask for reduction of CO2 and Nox (both are greenhouses gases). With the new development in technologies and research going, CO2 capturing will be possible. With changes in Cement manufacturing process, Nox reduction is also very much possible. However, the new technology of CO2 capturing and Nox reduction becoming technically and commercially viable may take some time but it will be possible to reduce/minimize the impact on climate change by technology adoption.
The real challenges on capacity addition/size of plant are from the land owners in the context of cement industry. With the new regulations of land acquisition, it is becoming very difficult to acquire the mining and plant land. Therefore, I see bigger challenges from Environmentalist on account of land acquisition and rehabilitation of project affected area.
5.How has the implementation of the latest environmental norms in the cement industry fared so far and how do you see it faring in the future, in terms of the ease or difficulty in the actual implementation of the environmental norms, financial impact, technical difficulties, etc. and do you think these norms need any re-visit?
The implementation of latest regulations of Environment did not pose big challenge. The industry has adopted and implemented regulations upto great extent. The new regulations of SPM of 30 mg/NM3 are very well adopted by industry. The Indian Cement Industry is working on controlling NOx as prescribed by regulating authorities.
Achieving the latest regulations on NOx has been a challenge for industry. The industry is in process of installing SCNR and also re-designing the process to minimize NOx generations.
The regulations of Land Acquisition and rehabilitation are bigger challenges. The land acquisition is delayed the project implementations.
The other challenges for industry are drawing of underground water. Because of NGT orders, it has become very difficult to get permission/renewal ground water withdrawal. However, industry is switching over to technology where water consumption can be minimized/eliminated. One such example is the raw material grinding in roll press. Grate cooler is designed without water spray. The ESP is being replaced with Bag filters to avoid uses of water.
6.What is your expectation in the availability and pricing of coal in India over the next decade? Is there a likelihood of environmental groups effectively dissuading the industry from using coal? What alternatives are likely to arise?
I do not see availability of Coal for manufacturing Cement will be a constraint during next decade. However, the Industry focus will be there to reduce uses of Fossil Fuel. Following will be the drives:
(i)Increase uses of Alternate Fuel like Industrial Waste and Bio Mass.
(ii)Reduction of specific power and fuel consumption.
(iii)More and more uses of Power Generated from Waste Heat.
(iv)Increase of share of Renewal Energy
(v)The present TSR (Thermal Substitution Rate) in Indian Cement Industry is around 3 to 5%. However, industry is now putting of equipment and machinery gearing upto use all type of Waste material generated by industrial units. The Bio mass is already being utilized in Cement Kiln and Power Plants.
7.What has been the extent of Alternative Fuels & Raw Materials (AFR) usage in the cement industry in general and your cement plants in particular in the past and how much Thermal Substitution Rate (TSR) do you think we can achieve over the next decade?
The present TSR in Cement Industry is around 5%. With growing awareness about disposal of waste in Cement Kilns, I am very sure that TSR is going to increase in days to come.
The Cement Industry is gearing up to dispose of any type of waste material in their Kilns by installing waste handling and processing Equipment.
We at Wonder Cement have started working on uses of AFR. The Capex has been sanctioned. The installation work is in progress. We expect to start using AFR by 2021.
I feel by next decade, the Industry will have minimum TSR of 25%. The challenges in increasing the uses of AFR are getting clearance of Pollution Board.
8.How has information technology impacted the cement industry in the past two decades and how do you expect it to change over the next decade? What are likely to be the future drivers?
The IT had played key role in the manufacturing process of Cement. More and more processes are being automated. In coming year, Industry will adopt many tools to monitor sales and will strengthen sales force to improve their sales, generate leads and convert leads to sales. IT will have bigger role in controlling logistic cost by way optimizing whereas locations, distributions from plant and warehouses, it will also optimizing fleet size. The Industry is moving paper less operations.
9.How the deteriorating limestone quality in future will have impact on cement manufacturing in next 10 years. What type of innovations in equipment or Process Technology do you foresee to tackle this problem?
Lime stone beneficiation will be the key to use low grade lime stone quality. Lot of R & D work is being done for beneficiation of Lime Stone. Wonder Cement is also working on such project for beneficiation.
Vivek Patni is the young member of Patni family and Director of Wonder Cement.