Significance of Certifications in Cement Sector

Significance of Certifications in Cement Sector

Certifications and assessments will bring bountiful benefits such as reduced costs, improved efficiency and productivity, reduced insurance claims and costs, improved brand image, better acceptance by the society and investors, etc., writes Dr K Murugan.

India is a major power emerging country in the South Asian region. Focus on infrastructure and development is fueling a huge growth in India´s success. With a major section of India´s population in the lower age bracket and increasing per capita income has added to this growth in the real estate sector across major cities in India. In all, cement plays a vital role in the growth and development of the sector, and today India is the second largest producer of cement in the world. The cement industry has been expanding and consolidating on the back of increasing infrastructure activities and demand from housing sector over the past many years.

In in the last few years, India´s cement industry has shown a consumption growth between 5-6 per cent, and can grow to about 8-9 per cent in the coming years, subject to political stability, supported by an expected increase in demand from the rural sector and tier II and tier III cities. In addition, cement production in India is expected to touch 407 million tonne (mt) by 2020.

Further, the cement and gypsum products sector in India has attracted foreign direct investments, and this will further add to the growth in the sector with the focus of the government on strengthening infrastructure, promotion of low-cost affordable housing, ever-increasing industrial activities, real estate, and construction and infrastructure. In addition to the onset of various special economic zones being developed across the country, there is a continuous demand for cement.

However, cement companies are not without their share of woes.
With continuously losing pricing power, costs continue to rise. A massive one-fourth of the overall capacities are lying unutilised due to various reasons.

Importance of certifications
Pollution and particulate suspended matter in the environment in cement industries make it difficult for employees to work in a conducive environment. Further there are safety hazards and risks in both the cement and infrastructure projects, risking life and property of the organisation. Increasing power tariffs are also putting a huge strain on the already strained industry.

Integrated Management Assessment (IMA/IMS) comprising of ISO 9001, ISO 14001 & OHSAS 18001 certifications-forms the pillar of this industry addressing the basic quality, environment, health and safety requirement ensuring compliance to these crucial factors. IMS brings in discipline and ensures that our Mother Earth is taken care of, employees are safe and in healthy working conditions in the organisation.

With the advent of ISO 50001 - Energy Management System, cement industry is a big gainer. Energy Management System ensures that the organisation contributes to the reduction of energy consumption and hence ensuring the sustainability of the organisation and the society. With the Perform Achieve & Trade (PAT) scheme in force, they have to ensure that they balance energy consumption, reduce their load on fossil fuels and find new and renewable sources for energy. This would reduce the costs and make them sustainable in the growing cost scenario, reduce load on the grid and help the nation become energy surplus.

Information and confidential data is crucial to any organisation. ISO 27001, the Information Security Management System, helps in securing crucial, critical, sensitive and confidential information of the organisation. This helps the company in investing in R&D with a free mind without the fear of crucial information leaking into wrong hands. With heavy investment in formulation of cement varieties to meet varying needs of the society it makes sense to invest in ISO 27001 and prevent any sabotage or loss of data or information.

Social Accountability (SA 8000) brings confidence to the employees and the society that there are no ill practices within the organisation, and it takes care of its employees while ensuring free and fair treatment to all the personnel working in the organisation. Safety is another major concern in any such industry. Working at heights, electrical hazards, confined space working, fine dust, mining activities, crushers, transportation, etc. are some of the areas of concern. Injuries and fatalities seriously affect the productivity and morale of the employees in addition to attracting a slew of investigations and audits from the regulatory and statutory authorities. It also affects the brand value in the market denting the valuation of the organisation. Safety, risk evaluation and management play an important role here. Process safety and behaviour safety assessment and implementation can help the company to assess the risk levels at a micro level and come up with mitigation plans to ensure a safe working culture and environment in the company.

Certifications and assessments can also go beyond the boundaries of the company. Supplier and vendor evaluations to the requirements of the cement/infrastructure industry helps improve inward quality of raw material. Safe transport management helps bring safety in transportation of employees to site and their residences. Supply Chain Security Management (ISO 28000) can help bring in safe transportation of goods and materials hence reducing pilferages, accidents and any other incidents so as to reduce losses.

Today sustainability is a buzz word. Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) or National Voluntary Guidelines (NVG) are now a mandatory requirement for the top 100 BSE listed organisations. Most of the cement industries would fall in the category and will have to ensure implementation of NVG, a directive from the government to the corporate world to give back to the society and ensure a sustainable growth of the society. The list of certifications and assessments would go on, however, if the organisation seriously implements the above certifications, it is bound to bring bountiful benefits to the company and some of these could be:

Reduced costs
  • Improved efficiency and productivity
  • Reduced insurance claims and costs
  • Improved brand image
  • Better acceptance by the society and investors
  • Building strong nation
  • Author Box
    The author is MD and CEO of UL DQS India, an Indian operation of UL DQS, which is a merger of Management Systems Solutions´ division of UL Inc of USA and DQS of Germany. With over 47,000 certified sites and presence in more than 100 countries globally, UL DQS India is headquartered out of Bangalore (India), having presence with offices and auditors across India. The company provides over 70 management system certifications and assessments covering a vast majority of standards and industries. Through its trainings and solutions, UL DQS India offers trainings, seminars and assessments to cover a whole lot of activities and industry standards. The company also focuses on helping the customers with dissemination of knowledge on the subject.

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