CDE Asia: Sourcing Sand Ethically for the Construction Industry

Manish Bhartia, Promoter & MD, CDE Asia Limited
With the advanced recycling solutions now available, it is possible to achieve a self-reliant, circular economy where different waste streams can be recycled and converted into high-quality sand and aggregates for use in construction, informs Manish Bhartia, Promoter & MD, CDE Asia Limited - a company that has invested in advanced waste management solutions for processing assorted urban wastes into sustainable sand and green construction aggregates.

What tangible actions is the Indian Government taking to address the depletion of natural resources like river sand?
World-class construction needs world-class engineering and raw materials. We are fortunate to be in a time and place where the country is on the verge of exponential growth in infrastructure development. The spike in infrastructure activities has led to a rapidly increasing gap between the demand and supply of natural sand which is the major ingredient for urban construction. The need of the hour is to find sustainable sources of sand which can fuel this growth sustainably.

Cognizant of the urgency of the situation, the Government of India instituted the C&D Waste Management Rule, 2016 by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, decreeing every Indian city to have Construction and Demolition Waste Recycling plants installed. This momentous decision has led to a slow but steady proliferation of waste recycling plants across the country.

With the advanced recycling solutions now available, it is possible to achieve a self-reliant, circular economy where different waste streams can be recycled and converted into high-quality sand and aggregates for use in construction.

I appreciate and am grateful for the eco-consciousness that is gradually growing in the country, so much so that tangible actions are being planned to address situations like the exhaustion of natural resources and over-dependence on fossil fuels.

How will the market for M-sand grow in 2023-24 in view of the ongoing and upcoming infra development projects and the elections in 2024?
India is at the cusp of a major infrastructure expansion spree. The Government plans to significantly invest in infrastructure projects by 2024-25 and equipment sales are likely to benefit from this.

The size of the Indian sand market stands at 1bn MT (approx. Rs.500bn and aggregates are estimated to be 4bn MT (approx. Rs.1200bn). The market for sand in India should grow in line with the construction industry at the rate of 6-7%. The ecological damage caused by the unmindful and illegal mining of river sand has prompted many states to completely ban river sand mining. The share of M-Sand in the total sand market has been steadily rising in the past few years and we see this trend becoming more widespread in the years to come.

As can be expected, there will be a considerable increase in infrastructural activities for urban development before the elections, driving up the demand for sand. We work with the sole motivation to discover untapped waste resources and provide technical support to convert them to construction aggregates. We see this as the single biggest opportunity to create a meaningful transition towards a circular economy.

What advancements is CDE Asia making to recycle and convert high-quality sand and aggregates for use in construction?
CDE Asia is a pioneer in the C&D Waste Recycling space in India, having supplied the country’s first plant to Delhi in 2010. Over the years more plants have been successfully commissioned in Delhi. Other cities, including Hyderabad, Pune, Thane, and Surat, have also chosen CDE Asia to set up their C&D Waste processing facilities.

We have recently been commissioned to install a 2000 TPD C&D Waste Recycling plant in New Delhi. This custom-designed plant by CDE Asia is slated to be Asia’s largest with the capacity to process 40% of Delhi’s total C&D Waste. Overall, CDE Asia has multiple installations in the Indian sub-continent and Southeast Asia that are successfully recovering sustainable sand and green aggregates from various low-value waste materials, replacing natural sand.

We have invested in advanced waste management solutions that are capable of processing assorted urban wastes such as Construction and Demolition Waste (C&D), legacy waste, bottom ash, railway ballast, and others into sustainable sand and green construction aggregates. To maximize the impact of its transformative sand solutions, we aim to become the preferred sourcing partner to the construction industry for ethically sourced sand.

Manish Bhartia, Promoter & MD, CDE Asia Limited

Please elaborate on the features of your Smart range of mobile washing plants with their IoT-based sensors and remote connectivity.
Over the past many years, our equipment has seen major performance upgrades and new feature additions. Today, it is one of the most robust mobile washing plants available in the marketplace and our dedicated product development team is constantly working to keep our customers steps ahead of their competition, both in terms of quality and efficiency.

Our smart range is pre-installed with multiple IoT sensors and internet capability that communicates with our Command Center servers throughout its operations. This allows our customers to operate their business from anywhere in the world. They can start & stop their plant remotely, receive daily reports of production, power usage, water usage, and more, all from the comfort of their homes.

The plant remains connected with the CDE Command Center by internet, making it possible for the service team to assist the customers 365 days a year. Additionally, our Cloudlink remote connectivity feature always keeps the software of the plants up to date for optimum performance.

Please name some recent projects to which CDE Asia has supplied its plants.
We have created a niche for ourselves in this space and are now reaping the rewards by being the preferred technology partner of Infra companies engaged in big ticket infrastructure projects.

As a case in point, we have already supplied over 15 plants for Samruddhi Mahamarg Expressway, the country’s longest greenfield road project, connecting Mumbai and Nagpur. Phase-1 of the project recently was inaugurated by the Hon’ble Prime Minister of India, Shri Narendra Modi. The construction work of this 701 km long Expressway is divided into 16 packages, with work awarded to 13 different contractors including Afcons Infrastructure, Larsen & Toubro (L&T), and Reliance Infrastructure.

Package 2, constructed by Afcons was the first package to be completed ahead of schedule. Afcons was also the first contractor to complete the PQC of the entire stretch among all 16 packages. We had the privilege of being a part of this historic feat, having supplied 4 plants to them for this project itself.

The hot topics in the CE industry across the world are: ‘The way to zero emissions,’ ‘The road to autonomous machines,’ and ‘Smart construction plant with electrification & digitalization’. What eco-friendly practices is CDE Asia following?
CDE Asia aims to completely transform the sand market by moving towards a circular economy of infinite construction resources that will support the galloping pace of urban development and strategically manage the huge shift from rural to urban populations.

Our focus lies in making sand sustainable. CDE advanced waste processing solutions recycle waste from a wide range of sources, including legacy waste, trommel fines, railway ballast, bottom ash, dredged sands from water bodies and so on. These help in creating a brand-new resource by processing this waste to recover quality sand and aggregates for use in construction projects.

We have embarked on a comprehensive Carbon Offset program that focuses on reducing our carbon emissions and achieving Net Zero by 2030. As part of this program, we will be planting and nurturing 25,000 trees by 2026.

Being an ESG-driven organization, our plants are designed to reuse 95% of the water used, while emitting low noise levels of under 80 DB, making them suitable for installation in habitable areas. There is zero liquid discharge and zero waste generated from the plants. Even the sludge discharged is now being used to make GreenBric™ - an eco-friendly alternative to traditional burnt clay bricks.

What are the practices and technologies being developed or adopted at your end to reduce wastage, preserve, and recycle materials, and reduce or eliminate carbon emissions?
As our cities are growing and the pace of infrastructure development is increasing, the demand for high-quality sand is set to rise, leading to rapid depletion of natural sand resources. The need of the hour is to encourage eco-friendly business practices, create alternative resources and thereby, promote the use of sustainable sand and aggregates to have a safe, smart, and sustainable sand ecology that will feed the urban landscape of tomorrow.

With in-built water recycling facility, the sand washing technology from CDE Asia is one of the most eco-friendly solutions in the market today that produces high-quality construction sand.

Some of the highlights of our plants are:
  • Up to 95% water recycling
  • Up to 30% energy savings
  • Lower plant footprint
  • Zero liquid discharge
  • Noise level below 80db
All our equipment is climate-friendly as they economize energy usage and recycle 95% of the water used. The high level of automation allows the plants to be installed with minimum hassle, taking up significantly smaller spaces. On the corporate level, we have committed ourselves to achieving 4 of the 17 Sustainability Development Goals (SDG) set by the UN for a cleaner, greener tomorrow.

Our R&D has resulted in a decrease in the number of vehicles used to transport the Combo platform, thus reducing CO2 emissions. This has also resulted in a decrease in logistics costs. Each of our products is scrutinized under Finite Element Analysis to ensure that the optimum amount of material is used, and that their weight remains regulated for minimum power consumption. Every CDE plant is designed to leave minimum geographical and environmental footprints.

Out of the 400+ plants installed by us, we surveyed a sample 50 plants for our ESG report and I’m happy to share that in the year 2021-22 our ESG-focused technology led to the following benefits:
  • 8.5 bn litres water saved - enough for 1.5 lakh people every year
  • 6.3 mn ton of river sand saved
  • 5 mn kilowatts power saved
Machine performance versus cost: can OEMs strike a balance between the two to attract buyers?
An important component of changing the way sustainability is perceived in business is to make it viable and profitable as a mainstream business choice. At CDE Asia, we recognize that profits will drive compliance, and are therefore consistently striving to design equipment and propose comprehensive sand solutions tailor-made to business pain points, and which are assured to be profitable and completely justify the equipment costs.

Enabled with IoT technology, plants can be operated remotely with complete access to real-time analytics and performance data, which put clients in control. The pinpoint accuracy of modern sand-washing technology has by far surpassed older sand-washing methods that were prone to causing environmental hazards, water wastage and were unable to achieve the precise gradation and quality demanded for industrial sand.

We keep our plants running at the highest efficiency so that our customers enjoy maximum returns on investment and complete peace of mind.

What services is the company offering its customers?
Our customer service is completely personalized and flexible with capabilities to provide 360-degree assistance in pre and post-sales phases, including financing assistance, advisory and technical stewardship.

Being a CDE customer means belonging to an ecosystem of comprehensive technological assistance, care, and goodwill. We believe that our customers should enjoy optimum benefits of our path-breaking technologies, without the nagging worries of maintenance and inventory planning.

Our Annual Maintenance Contract is crafted keeping in mind the modern result-oriented business owner, who can derive the best out of their equipment by choosing our customized AMC package. Benefits include:
  • Running the plant at highest capacity - up to 6000 hours every year without glitches
  • AMC driving +90% availability/uptime
  • Minimizing losses due to breakdowns
  • Maximizing profit by monitoring and improving product yield
  • Working with customer’s team to improve their product mix to fetch optimum market value
  • Optimizing cost of operation
  • Protecting staff with advanced safety features
  • Increasing life of equipment with original spares
Backed by our experience in installing numerous plants across the globe, CDE Asia is committed to providing customers plants that function at optimum capacity and an extended life, and with the promise of maximum returns amid a safe and smart work environment.

Is CDE Asia addressing the issue of skilled worker shortage?
At CDE Asia, we have invested heavily in making our products smarter and futuristic. Our plants are fitted with IoT devices that can capture run-time plant data and present the same to our clients in a personalized dashboard. This data is visible and can be accessible by the customer remotely wherever he is, giving him a sense of control and ease of having future-ready technology by his side - round the clock. Our smart plants can practically be controlled entirely using any hand-held device.

Customers availing our AMC services have a fully trained CDE Asia engineer stationed at their site who is responsible to oversee the entire production and ensure maximum uptime of the plant. Coupled with our back-end Command Center, this can prove to be a game changer for the operations of any CDE Asia equipment. This ultimately reduces the customers’ workload of hiring, training, and retention of skilled manpower, which is a pressing issue, and instead lets them focus on business development without worrying about production.
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