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Cementing a fortune

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At a time when existing cement companies are struggling with poor economic conditions, Wonder Cement says it manages to sell every bag it produces | BY TEAM MT | 

A little more than four years ago, the RK Marble group,already a well-established name in marble mining and supply in Rajasthan, decided that it would develop on the vast available resources of limestone deposits available in Nimbahera. That first slab of thought gave rise to Wonder Cement.

The same year, the company appointed engineering consultant Holtec to conduct a feasibility study and in July Wonder Cement began placing orders for machinery to build the plant. By April 2012, the company produced clinker and in June 2012 they produced its first batch of cement. The company was in business. With a plant area of 200 hectares and amining area of 740 hectares, Wonder Cement has an installed capacity of 3.25mtpa of cement. The mines have more than 330million tonnes proved reserves and morethan 25 million tonnes probable reserves.

The total mineable reserves are more than 355 million tonnes. Open cast mining is done in both the mines.Staying true to the mantra of sparing no expense in selecting the location, machinery and bringing out a world-class product,the management has invested heavily in the plant. “We believe in long term benefits.

And hence, though our initial investments are high we know that it will give us multifold benefits later on,” asserted Vivek Patni,director, Wonder Cement.At a time when most manufacturers try to skimp with installing latest technology savvy machines at their plants or bring in global technology, Wonder Cement has had no such second thoughts. SM Joshi,president (plant), Wonder Cement, says,“It’s a matter of pride for us that our chairman was keen that we should buy the best equipment available. For that matter, weare the first company to import cement grinding equipment that was recently developed by Thyssenkrupp.”

Consider this. Wonder Cement uses the latest hydraulic drilling machines at its limestone mines that offer a drilling rate of 40 metres per hour (mph) as compared to those generally available and offer 12-13mph. It has also brought in Komatsu PC 1250 excavators and Komatsu 64-tonne dumpers that help it mine raw material faster.

Although the plant works on a continuous process, the manufacturer has utilised part of the land for buffer storage. It has aclinker storage capacity of 45,000 tonnes and 30,000 tonnes for cement of three grades. Besides this, its packing system has three lines for 12 truck loads and a similar number of wagon loads.

The process of manufacturing of cement can be divided in the following sections: Mining, crushing, raw material grinding, coal grinding, Pyro-processing,cement grinding and cement packing. Patniavowed, “The limestone crushers that we use come from L&T and they crush 1,500 tonnes per hour (tph). Our transport and conveyance equipment and elevators also come from Germany.”

While raw material acquisition and refining is one of the most important stages of cement production for which Pfeiffer has supplied the latest VRM technology, the equipment for Pyro-processing and clinker grinding is supplied by Thyssen Krupp.This recently developed technology offers Wonder Cement narrow particle size distribution, which offers the cement strength as well as durability. Wonder Cement is also the first manufacturer to deploy this technology in India.

The company produces Ordinary Portland cement (OPC) and Portland Pozzolana Cement. Both are prepared by fully automated dry manufacturing processes.The plant is fully automated with latest German technology and quality control is done through Automated Po-Lab (Robotic Lab) with AQCNET software.

AQCNET/POLAB configuration consists of a standard industrial robot placed in the centre of a circular arrangement of sample preparation and analytical equipment. Samples arrive automatically from the connected automatic sample transport system or are entered via operator sample conveyors or special input/output magazines. Joshi further elucidated,“The POLAB computer integrates the system components. It identifies incoming samples, downloads the relevant sample-handling specification and controls all intelligent devices in the configuration. Sequence control includes priority handling and intelligent handling of equipment failure situations.”

To control consistency, the company has installed PGNAA+PFTNAA (on line analyser Gamma Matrix) that controls the quality of incoming raw material, a fully-automatic Quality Control Lab Polab equipped with XRF & XRD (X Ray Florescence & X-ray Diffraction) ARL and particle size analyser (Malvern) for better control constancy in raw mix. Joshi stressed, “We execute quality control at every stage of the manufacturing using robotic technology. We use cross belt analyser, which is the world’s best Combi CBA having CNA technology and analyse the entire quality of limestone being crushed and not just a mere sample. This gives an accurate chemical analysis of the limestone.”

In terms of being sustainable, the company uses a pre-heater technology that is low on fuel consumption. It uses petroleum coke (petcoke) instead of fossil fuels. The advantage of its location in the north zone enables the company to use petcoke as it’s cheaper than other fuels.In cement making each tonne of clinker consumes 1.5 tonnes raw material and of that 1.4 tonnes is limestone. Getting a good limestone lease and mining is the most important factor for cement making. And that is what Wonder Cement acquired first which has resulted in its phenomenal growth.

“Getting the right quality mine is important and the prospecting of limestone mine is done by government. If they find it right then they give it to the cement industry. But the buyer must know the difference and that knowledge was already with this group,”averred Joshi.

While the company boasts of world class equipment, R&D and innovation have no role to play here. Explaining, Joshi asserted, “R&D is a costly affair and right now we refer to the National Council for Building Materials (NCBM), a government research institute in Delhi. Most of the cement companies here pay 50 paisa for pertonne of production to the institute and they do the research.”

In terms of innovation too, Joshi mentioned that cement in India can only be sold under BIS licence, which offers fixed norms for each grade of cement. “You have to make within that grade. If you produce something outside the given grade, then it will not be permissible for sale”.

Currently, the factory runs on one line.Construction has already started for line two.“Line two is the same as one. While other manufacturers operate at 70-80% capacity we operate at 120% and sell all the products.Such statistics obviously indicate great demand for Wonder Cement in the market and hence, we set up the second line, which will be operational from 2015,” stated Patni.

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