Auto labs can solve operational & process issues
Auto labs can solve operational & process issues

Auto labs can solve operational & process issues

You are one of the first few cement manufacturers to opt for lab automation. What are the latest offerings from lab automation suppliers?
As far as lab automation is concerned, Nuvoco has procured X-Ray Fluorescence and X-Ray Diffraction equipment with reproducibility and high accuracy for our production units. These equipments provide us with a much stricter control over our product's quality parameters. To reduce human errors, auto-samplers have been installed to draw a representative and average sample. Additionally, we have cross belt analysers installed for limestone quality assurance. Expert systems are installed for the efficient control of the raw mix, clinker & cement quality. All this, along with our state of art R&D lab (CDIC) we keep focus to produce innovative products in the market. Particle size distribution analysis for cement is most widely preferred for benchmarking our grinding facilities.

Now a day, most of the greenfield projects prefer fully auto-labs. The feature of this latest fully automated lab is:

  • Automated sampling,
  • Automated dispatch from the sampling point
  • Automated sample reception and handling at lab
  • Automated sample preparation
  • Automated transport to XRF/PSD
  • Automated online results and software control
The whole operation can be done with robots or with single/multiple robots. One can choose the level of automation based on several factors like capacity of plant, integrated or grinding unit, technical skills and knowhow of plant personal.

What is the cost and/or quality benefits that a customer can expect in return for their investment?
The advantages of installing automated lab are accurate analysis and reduced human error. It also reduces standard deviation of quality parameters in raw mix thus resulting best utilisation of the different grade limestone (thus increasing mines life) and avoiding expensive purchased additives.

Uniform raw mix helps to give better control in clinker specific heat consumption (SHC) thus reducing the cost of clinker. Uniform raw mix also helps to reduce operational problems like cyclone jamming, ball formation or snowman formation.

Top most quality clinker and cement can be produced if one is having automated lab installed at their plant. So in a nutshell it improves cement quality consistency, maximises plant availability and stabilises operation, improves raw mix uniformity and raw mix cost. Potential savings by installing automated laboratories increases with plant size and improved consistency at each process - raw meal preparation, clinker production and cement production. For an average size cement plant the payback of investment in quality might be less than two years.

Is productivity a major benefit for clients like you?
Yes. As mentioned earlier, auto labs can efficiently solve many operational and process issues to increase productivity. Other than this it reduces cost of raw mix, cost of production of clinker and assure consistency in product quality.

How seamless is the integration provided by the system you have installed - between laboratory and power control?
For 24/7 plant operation, the process laboratory must operate constantly with only very few, short stops. With seamless integration between Central Control Room (CCR) and Quality Control Lab, we've seen improved reliability. The lab automation system is integrated with various other Plant automation systems and Central production MIS where online data is being transferred. The integration between laboratory and plant automation which enabled us to get uniform quality of raw mix, stable operation with optimised oxygen control resulting increasing productivity and lower heat & power consumption.

What is the cycle time for delivery and installation of such a lab automation system from concept to commissioning in a Greenfield situation?
Approximately eight to nine months required for the complete cycle, which includes lab automation system finalisation, schedule of delivery and commissioning.

Do you think it will be beneficial to opt for renovation/ retrofit of existing plants?
Yes, it is very much important for consistent product and better accuracy. It will also give additional benefit in cost savings and operation stability.

What is the growth outlook for the Indian cement industry and what are your investment/ expansion plans for the country?
India is the second largest producer of cement in the world. No wonder, India's cement industry is a vital part of its economy, providing employment to more than a million people, directly or indirectly. India has a lot of potential for development in the infrastructure and construction sector and the cement industry is expected to largely benefit from it. Government's big projects like Bharatmala Project, affordable housing projects and thrust to create start-ups will push development of cement and steel industries. Government's ambitious plans to develop "industrial corridors and smart cities" - and its practical intentions to repair, or build new, airports, highways, schools and hospitals will boost Indian cement industry tremendously. Due to the increasing demand in various sectors such as housing, commercial and industrial construction, cement industry is expected to reach 550 - 600 million tonnes per annum (MTPA) by the year 2025.

The recent economic survey has pegged a 7 per cent GDP growth for FY20 to be led by increase in investments, declining oil prices, accommodative MPC policy helping cut lending rates and growth in rural demand. The macroeconomic fundamentals are expected to improve on the back of sustained rise in consumption, Political stability and easing of NBFC stress. Investments will remain the key driver of simultaneous growth in demand, jobs, exports and productivity.

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