The future is digital & digitalisation
How are the prospects of your control and automation business in India, particularly in the cement vertical?
How do you see your prospects in next 5 years and market share? How important is cement in your C&A business?
FLSmidth is a leading supplier of complete control and automation solution(s) supplying equipment that can provide integrated digital solutions for plant production control, process control, process optimisation, quality control, laboratory management, enterprise management information system along with smart instrumentation for cement plants. We are very optimistic of this business in the coming years as we see uptick in the cement market with new projects being announced. With a strong installed base and proven track record, we are confident of defending our existing customers as well would acquire new customers. Control and automation is a very important constituent of our cement business, we have many products and solutions developed especially for the Cement market.
We offer two industry leading product suites, ECS (Expert Control System) and QCX (Quality Conrol using XRay) to cement industry for their control and automation needs for production and quality.
What are your investment plans for C&A cement vertical for creating manufacturing capacity in India? How much of your automation solutions inputs are sourced in India? What are your plans to increase the same to support 'Make in India'?
We strongly advocate "make in India" concept. We manufacture Gas Analysis System and Machine Control Systems at our Arakonam factory. We have developed a number of Indian vendors for sourcing control panels manufactured to meet our standards. All system engineering, programming and system integration are done by highly trained and experienced engineers in our Chennai offices. We also have a 24x7 support digital system in Chennai to provide instant assistance to our customers.
How do you see policy environment in India support local manufacturing of these items vis-a-vis imports? As stakeholder, what recommendations you have for the government for the overall growth and wellbeing of the automation industry?
The future is digital and digitalisation. Automation being the "intelligent" component of digitalisation, requires attention for its growth. Government policies should drive productivity (efficiency, lowering operating costs, enhance sustainability of natural resources, etc..) which can be harnessed by digitalisation. Companies must be incentivised to train its staff on technologies like artificial intelligence, machine learning, robotics, etc..
We know that automation helps cement plants to improve their efficiencies and optimise processes. Can you share how your products and systems would help your customers to achieve these savings much better than other manufacturers?
You must be aware that FLSmidth was the FIRST company in the world to introduce "FuzzyLogic" technology to the cement industry to optimise its various process islands and also the FIRST company in the world to employ Infrared technology to scan and measure the kiln shell temperature. We had over the period of several years constantly invested to enhance the capabilities and functionalities using latest technologies and tools of our most successful optimisation product, ECS/ProcessExpert. This optimisation solution can be installed in any cement plant, regardless of who has supplied its control system and regardless of who has supplied the plant and machinery, for optimising raw mill grinding system, kiln-cooler-coal mill system and cement mill grinding system. Our ECS/ProcessExpert can optimise various plant configurations based on combinations of roller press, ball mill, vertical roller mill, inline/separate line calciners, single/twin/three tower preheater systems, vent/vent less coolers, etc.. Our customers get the direct benefits of longer periods of stable operation, improvement in throughput, decrease in specific power and fuel and indirect benefits of lesser wear and tear and relieving the plant personnel to spend their time on higher level of activities.
An understated benefit of automation is consistent quality of products. We request you to share your thoughts with our readers as to how your control systems help in achieving better quality of cement?
Good question. You are right that it is not sufficient for cement plants to focus on quantity of clinker or cement being produced. Higher quantities may be achieved but often at the cost of either higher operating cost per ton of product produced or at lower or inconsistent quality. Therefore it is important that cement plants have production that is truly optimised to have the maximum possible quantity at the desired and consistent quality, both at the least possible cost. You must be aware that FLSmidth was the FIRST company in the world to introduce Robots in cement quality control systems. We have a suite of quality control products, bundled as a quality solution for cement plants, under QCX portfolio. Our QCX/Pile, QCX/BlendExpert, QCX/Autoprep, QCX/Robolab, etc. ensure measurement and control of quality of intermediate and final products at various stages, like at the stock pile, raw meal, clinker and cement. We offer quality solutions from a simple manual configuration to a fully automated and Robot controlled solution, and all our solutions are scalable.
Therefore, our ECS and QCX product suites perfectly complement each other to give highest productivity (by ECS) at the consistent quality (by QCX) for our customers.
Please tell us about your latest product offering in the market, including improvements and changes you have incorporated in this/these product(s)? We constantly invest in enhancing our product/solutions capabilities and functionalities and uses latest technologies. We offer ECS and QCX range of products with process controllers from leading hardware manufacturers with our Cement Standards called ACESYS to deliver absolutely seamless experience to CCR (Central Control Room) personnel an end-to-end production/process/quality control solution from mines to cement dispatch. Our products enable our customers to transform their operations into a digital journey and realise the full benefits of digitalisation.
How important is after sale service and A&C business for you? How important is your service engagement in ensuring higher uptimes of plants?
After sale service must be a competency that any product and solution provider should have. We have a dedicated Service Execution team that perform all required on-site activities for setting up a control and automation system. Besides this, we have a dedicated 24x7 service support system manned by experts to provide instant assistance over a digital infrastructure. We also execute PLA (PlantLine Agreement) to fulfil uptime and updation of control systems.