MHE: Ready to handle all challenges
The Indian cement industry has shown excellent results, even in the global context, having achieved remarkable benchmarks such as highly efficient 60kwhr/tonne energy consumption. Despite these achievements, the industry is going through a rough patch, saddled as it is with over-capacity. As the pressure on the cement sector mounts, the industry is looking at cost- effective, energy -efficient processes. "Cement manufacturing efficiencies depend largely on cost- effective conveying mostly by means of conveyor belts beginning from the transportation of limestone at the mine to the end of the circuit where the cement bags are loaded by telescopic conveyor belts onto trucks," says Rohit Arora, Vice President - Marketing, Continental Belting Group.
However, the challenges facing the BMH industry are more in number than the ever-growing demands for better systems. The BMH industry must gear up to meet the new RDSO guidelines, which requires equipment to be designed to handle increased capacity. Besides this, they must also put more emphasis on developing sustainable technologies for handling material in bulk. Talking about the challenges faced by the industry, Y Srinivas Reddy, Founder and Managing Director, Bevcon Wayors, says that "The business of Indian bulk material handling has been deeply affected by volatile markets and by ambiguous policy situations, for the last two years."
Lack of infrastructure too, is restricting growth. Cement companies are being forced to shift to far- flung locations to maintain their economic viability. "The conventional, easy to access locations are no more available. New projects are forced to go to far-off places, away from markets or are being forced to manage in a limited area. Growing demand for fly ash- based PPC production has pushed several industry players to set up grinding units close to thermal plants for fly ash consumption. As these thermal power plants are generally located close to densely populated areas, space is always a constraint and hence they cannot develop good infrastructure for rail/road movement of material," says Jai Gupta, Chief General Manager, Holtec Consulting.
Often, the plant and the mines have forest or villages nearby, and they have to be set up in an environment friendly manner. Today the BMH industry has evolved to offer advanced technologies refined to leave a minimum footprint on the environment. These include in- motion rapid loading of material in railway rakes, movable wagon loader feeding stationary rake, use of bottom discharge wagon for transport and unloading. Wagon shifters substantially reduce the area required for the installation of a wagon tippler.
Then again, is the government aware of these new developments? Engineers will now probably have to play the roles of promoter and perpetuator along with innovator. As Pabak Mukhopadhyay, General Manager-Bulk Material Handling, L&T, rightly puts it, "Engineers must engage with the government and help them see the possibilities of new technologies available in the market. One of the pain points of the industry is the delay in the clearance of several projects. Often, these projects are held up simply because the government feels that the material transferred and the allied BMH equipment will pose a threat to the environment."
We have to wonder if the authorities are playing it safe by simply not taking any decisions at all. And how long can we continue this way? The time has come for engineers to educate the government about the new eco-friendly technologies.
Unless engineers communicate these possibilities aggressively, the industry that needs to moves will come to a halt.