India, being the second largest cement producer in the world after China with a total capacity of 151.2 Million Tones (MT), has got a huge cement industry. With the government of India giving boost to various infrastructure projects, housing facilities and road networks, the cement industry in India is currently growing at an enviable pace. During September 2010, the cement production touched 12.54 million tonnes (MT), while the cement despatches quantity was 12.56 MT during the month. The total cement production during April-September 2010-11 reached 81.54 MT as compared to 77.22 MT over the corresponding period last fiscal. Further, cement despatches also witnessed an upsurge from 76.50 MT during April-September 2009-10 to 81.10 MT during April-September 2010-11.
Automation trends in the Cement Industry
Following the entry of the major players into China and India, the playing field in the cement industry has changed. A number of macro trends are forcing the industry to modernise, with localplayers, as well as foreign-owned plants, investing heavily in order to remain competitive. Driven by the standards imported by the cement multinationals, three main trends are to be observed on the marketplace: productivity, safety, and environmental responsibility. This reflects a keen desire by the cement multinationals to achieve similar productivity levels in Asia as in western plants, and to take the opportunity to improve environmental standards at some emerging market sites.
Productivity is a key driver behind the investments currently being made in China and India. Cement plant operators have four primary productivity goals: the reduction of downtime, the reduction of energy consumption, improvements in product quality and the intelligent use of maintenance resources. Downtime is a significant problem at obsolete plants. By improving the level of automation and control within the process, staff can be alerted more quickly to deviations in process parameters and take action before the situation becomes critical. Energy consumption levels can be reduced by installing intelligent drive systems or improving monitoring and control of clinker quality and emission levels using gas analysis systems, such as the FLK kiln probe. Apart from ensuring that raw materials entering the process are of the best possible quality, cement plant operators also require accurate data regarding process variables, especially during calcining processes within the kiln. The need to improve product quality represents a considerable opportunity for automation equipment suppliers, as instrumentation and control play a key role here. By reducing the amount of time needed to maintain the plant, and ensuring that maintenance cycles around the plant are optimised and reflect actual maintenance demands, plant operators can reap significant cost savings. The implementation of state-of-the-art DCS systems and advanced communication protocols, enables field instruments to deliver enhanced maintenance data directly into the control room and provides more accurate planning of maintenance activities. As the DCS system also monitors the wellbeing of the process, the level of maintenance expertise required within the workforce is also reduced.
In parallel to improving productivity at plants in emerging markets, cement plant operators also need to invest heavily in systems aimed at improving plant safety. As multinational companies have moved into India and China, they have brought with them considerable improvements in safety standards, both in terms of employee and process safety requirements. The main focus has been on improved monitoring of processes and the installation of modern technology aimed at reducing the risk of extraordinary events, such as explosions.
In the same way that globalization has brought about improvements in the safety levels at cement plants in emerging markets, global companies are also improving the environmental performance of plants in these markets Automation suppliers can provide a great deal of assistance to plant operators looking to improve the environmental impact of their operations. Whether by state-of- the-art CEMS systems optimization of filtration processes or in situ gas analysis, automation is a vital part of the environmental efforts being made by cement companies