Routine inspections and maintenance can save a great amount of energy and resources

Routine inspections and maintenance can save a great amount of energy and resources

Kaustubh Raikar, Executive Director, Structwel

Structwel has been involved in the health assessment of several industries across the country and overseas. The 'stitch in time saves nine' adage is directly applicable in cement plants and structures maintained regularly, which saves a huge amount of time and energy. "Periodic maintenance of cement structures, water tightness, corrosion, production impact damage etc can save huge production losses and downtime of plant equipment," says Kaustubh Raikar, Executive Director, Structwel. Excerpts from the interview.

What are the major challenges in retrofitting / setting up of new cement plants?
Concepts of retrofitting are relatively new to Indian industries, just in the last few decades. The cement industry is not different. Typically we do not take up plant and machinery for provision maintenance. Civil engineering structures are no exceptions. Most structures are taken up for repairs / retrofitting when they are at an advanced stage of damage. Inadequate drive of maintenance team and insufficient budget provisions for timely maintenance / repairs of civil engineering structures in cement plant are the major challenges in retrofitting the structures.

What is the scope for greenfield projects?
Greenfield projects are entirely a different ballgame compared to restoring of existing cement plants for brownfield projects. A brownfield project needs modifying / strengthening of the existing structures to suit the different loads whereas, in greenfield projects, most of requirements are pre-defined and only after preparation of complete drawings and details is construction started.

Executing a brownfield project or a project of repairs / retrofitting in existing plant is a very challenging process as it involves extremely close coordination between plant engineers and restoration engineers. All the engineers involved in the plant have to be simultaneously working on the plant to be restored. This makes the challenges more complicated and each project becomes unique in itself. Several unknown complications can crop up and almost each time, a tailor-made solution or an innovative solution is required.

Energy efficiency, therefore, places second in retrofitting projects compared to greenfield projects.

Which section/process in a cement industry has the highest scope for improvement in terms of energy efficiency?
In my opinion, every section in the cement industry has scope for improvement, in terms of energy efficiency. Starting from housekeeping of a cement plant, routine inspections and maintenance can save a great amount of energy and resources. The 'stitch in time saves nine' adage is directly applicable in cement plants and structures maintained regularly, which saves a huge amount of time and energy.

How much can an existing plant improve its energy efficiency through repair or retrofit?
Periodic maintenance of cement structures, water-tightness, corrosion, production impact damage, etc, can save huge production losses and downtime of plant equipment. Unfortunately, collapses or part-collapses of structures have been common occurrences in cement plants due to improper / inadequate maintenance of civil structures. Tall and long-span structures like silos, conveyor belts and galleries have high stress level areas which need special focus. Repairs, retrofitting carried out to such areas can save considerable loss of energy and improve its efficiency.

What kinds of energy saving measures/technologies do you recommend to your clients?
Several non-destructive testing techniques are available and the same can be used effectively to predict maintenance-free life of different structures. These techniques can be further used to predict requirement of maintenance and type of maintenance in individual structures. The right concept then be applied to maintenance schedules / plans for individual structures. This can bring in great amount of energy saving, resources saving and hence, savings in corresponding economy.

What is your outlook on the PAT scheme introduced by the Bureau of Energy Efficiency?
The PAT scheme introduced by the Bureau of Energy Efficiency has not yet been implemented or considered for civil engineering structures and hence it would not be appropriate to comment on the same.

Could you give us examples where you have helped cement companies reduce energy bills?
We have been involved in the health assessment of several industries across the country and overseas. Some organisations have utilised our services to do health assessment of silos to stop water leakage. This saved the product getting stuck to the inner walls of silos and improved the silo's efficiency considerably, and this also saved energy. Several other organisations have utilised our services in improving the functionality of large-span structures like conveyor belts. Such structures tend to sway, buckle and deflect due to malfunctioning of the mechanical plant installed over them. Considerable localised retrofitting improves the efficiency of such mechanical plants, reducing the energy consumption considerably.

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