The Indian market for Ready Mix Concrete has been showing a consistent positive growth, year after year, in spite of a few policy hurdles on the way. From the first commercial RMC plant set up in 1993 by Ready-Mix Concrete Industries to the state-of-art plants currently producing over 37-lakh cubic meters annually, it has been an eventful journey for the industry. With the big infrastructure projects slowly turning to RMC, experts in this segment predict a business growth rate of 25% in India.

The increased use of RMC, as against the sluggish cement market, has made local producers as well as a host of major international players focused on the RMC business; Holcim, Lafarge, Heidelberg, etc. to name a few. With major investments flooding into this segment, the focus has now shifted to increasing the brand presence in the shortest possible time. The strategy is to have a well spread network of RMC plants, through timely execution of Greenfield projects across the country.

Holcim, a major player in this segment, through its local associates ACC and Ambuja Cements, has already taken dynamic steps to revolutionize this industry. Team RMX of ACC has devised and adopted innovative project execution strategies based on turnkey model, to effectively fulfill the high asking rate. This is an accepted method worldwide and has made it easy for ACC to execute fast track projects.

For Aquarius Engineers, who is working in partnership with ACC as turnkey project supplier, it is proving to be a challenging and rich experience. Says Mr. Bhadbhade, Managing Director of Aquarius Engineers, “Meeting global quality norms from planning to plant handover, under pressing project completion deadlines, is challenging. Our Turnkey Plant Division is now geared up for bigger challenges.” The concept was put into action in 2007, since then Aquarius Engineers has been setting up several Turnkey RMC plants for ACC at various locations across the country.

Turnkey Plants a Preferred Solution for RMC Industry

The typical concept of a Turnkey Plant is that the customer arranges for the land and basic amenities like power and water, and the complete design, supply and execution is left to the turnkey contractor. This includes, among other things, plot assessment, plant layout, structural and equipment design as well as complete design and execution of civil and electrical works. It would be interesting to look at each of these elements separately.

Plot Assessment

An integrated system study is carried out to consider parameters like traffic movement, logistics, topography, soil quality, operational ease, etc. The study helps in the best utilization of the plot and gives useful feedback for further design preparation work. These activities presuppose a market viability study of the project vis-à-vis the selected location.

Plant Layout

This forms a very critical stage in the entire project. The inputs collected during the plot assessment are utilized to evolve a layout to ensure maximum ease of operations during plant functioning. Special care is taken to precisely locate critical functional items like Raw Material Storage, Powerhouse, Bulker Loading, Weigh Bridge, Control Cabin, Settling Tank, Office Building, Utilities, etc. The internal roads are planned for maximum ease of raw material and finished goods movement. An efficient illumination system ensures roundthe- clock-operation of the plant.

Equipment Design & Supply

The equipment requirements, as regards to capacity, mix options, application data, control system, material movement and loading options, maintenance, etc, are finalized. The specifications of the Batching Plant are decided in conjunction with the options selected for various types of Aggregate and Silo Loading Systems, Dosing Systems for Admixtures, Micro Silica, Ice, etc.

Another important aspect of the main equipment is the selection of an apt control system. Four level control systems with sophisticated PLC and Gen-next program logics are available. Real-time on screen simulation in computerized control system can provide a single point view of one or many plants across the country.

The basic equipment finalization also includes specifications for DG set, Distribution Transformer, clean environment systems like Concrete Recycling Plants, and so on.

Safety is another major issue that plays a vital role in the consideration of design for the entire plant.

Civil Work

This is a voluminous activity in the overall project. It starts with the site clearance activities, like removing all obstructions on site, to the final completed site hand-over.

Initially, the marking activity covers erection of masonry and concrete pillars as benchmarks of the work. The various activities comprise earthwork like excavation, shoring, dewatering, back filling with earth, etc.

Perfect leveling of all foundation bolts/plates, plays a major role with respect to erection of the plant and equipment. A tolerance level of maximum + 5 mm is strictly adhered to, for trouble-free installation.

The PCC/RCC concrete work, formwork, steel reinforcement and structural steel erection form a major part in this segment of activity. Internal roads and pavements as per the finalized layout along with other works like masonry, cement plaster, flooring and painting amount to the overall activity. A thorough planning also entails underground tanks, settling tank, Transit Mixer washing platform, sanitation, etc.

Electrical Works

This activity covers supply, installation, testing and commissioning of complete electrical works. Major scope, other than the batching plant electrification, comprises illumination of complete plant and internal roads, assembly and installation of distribution transformers, installation of DGsets, control panels, FO tank, annunciation systems, etc.

An important aspect related to this activity is the safety with respect to the overall operation of the plant.

Testing & Commissioning

On complete erection of the plant, a Dry Run Test is conducted to ensure free movement of all the moving parts of the plant under the supervision of competent authorities.

This is followed by a Trial Mix Test to ensure working of all the equipment in the plant according to specifications listed in the Operation Manual. This comprises the entire process, right from Aggregate loading System to Transit Mixer filling with concrete. After a successful Trial Mix Test, the plant is certified for the delivery of the desired Ready Mix Concrete.

Safety and Technical Audit

A Technical & Safety Audit is necessarily carried out under the supervision of competent authorities as per the HSE Plan (Healthy Safe Environment) for the faultless working of the Plant as well as complete safety. The audit warranties avoidance of any mishaps during plant operation. Additionally, multinational companies have global norms of safety for equipment design as well as electrical and civil works. These norms have to be well–understood and imbibed in the plant execution. After fulfillment of remarks of the Technical & Safety Audit, the plant is ready for hand-over.

Training & Hand-Over

Plant hand-over to the operation team involves basic training about plant operation, troubleshooting and safety precautions that need to be taken during plant operation. The training activity normally continues for a period of 8-10 days, depending on the plant configuration. The Project Team finally hands over the plant to the Operational Team after due compliance of all statuary requirements regarding HSE Plan, with respect to the specific plant location.

The entire process, right from conceptualization to start of commercial production, takes just below 100 days. The working of a Turnkey Plant concept has definitely evolved a framework that is easier to adopt and a boon to fast track RMC projects.
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