Responsible business boosts performance

18 August 2015

Egypt’s ACC Ramliya cement plant doesn’t just deliver a utilisation rate 10% higher than the industry average, it beats industry norms in energy consumption and emission reductions.

With cement production predicted to increase by at least 50% by 2050, the cement industry is faced with balancing the world’s requirements for cement against reducing CO2, waste and other gaseous emissions. FLSmidth commissioned a ground-breaking impact assessment of the Arabian Cement Company (ACC Ramliya) in Egypt to better understand this balance.

Built by FLSmidth, ACC Ramliya consists of two production lines with a combined annual production capacity of 4.2 million tons. ACC Ramliya’s clinker production is outsourced to FLSmidth through a comprehensive O&M contract.
The impact assessment identifies the plant’s economic, environmental and social impacts as well as the business value proposition delivered to the plant’s owners. Thomas Westergaard-Kabelmann, who assisted with the impact assessment, explains the importance of understanding the entire perspective:

“Cement plants have a substantial impact on the local environment and society, so if you improve one aspect of the plant’s impact, it is likely to impact positively on all the other aspects. Delivering profits and socio-economic benefits result in shared value, and if ACC Ramliya can optimise its social and environmental impacts, it will impact positively on economic activity in the region.”
Outstanding utilisation

The study revealed that for ACC Ramliya to make a positive contribution to its surroundings, it must perform well commercially. In the period 2010 to 2013, during which Egypt’s cement production capacity expanded by 40%, ACC outstripped its competition, increasing market share from 2.9 to 7.8%, while Egyptian cement consumption increased by just 2%.

The plant operates at a significantly higher utilisation rate than its industry peers. Measured over 2012 and 2013, it operated at 83% utilisation, significantly higher than the industry standard of 73%. Most of its cement is then sold to areas of high demand, such as Greater Cairo and the Nile Delta.

At ACC Ramliya, production manager Mahmoud Abdel Ghanry explains his production philosophy: “We can easily produce 7,000 tonnes of clinker a day, but if the machines break down the next day due to overproduction, we cannot meet our customers’ demand for cement. The challenge is finding the optimum point of production where everything is in balance, and the machines keep on running. At this point we have the lowest energy usage, lowest heat consumption, optimal production and lowest cost.”

Coal – the sustainable choice?

A particular challenge for most cement producers in Egypt is the gas supply, which is too unreliable to support stable operations, resulting in low utilisation and production rates.
So Ramliya made a bold move in 2013 by switching the energy supply from gas to coal. As other plants follow suit, CO2 emissions nationwide are likely to increase by 15%. However, there are greater socio-economic benefits at stake.

“A 30% switch from domestic cement production to imports will cost nearly 19,000 jobs and a loss in gross value added (GVA) of EGP16.5 billion,” explains Thomas Westergaard-Kabelmann, continuing, “Importing clinker and cement emits at least six times more CO2 than the amount emitted by coal-based cement production.”
Better skilled workforce

Efficient plant operations depend on the presence of a qualified labour force. But this is not always a given in the cement industry. So in 2009, FLSmidth established a cement training and recruitment centre in Egypt aimed at enhancing plant workers’ professional and technical skills in all aspects of operations and maintenance. At least 85% of plant staff have passed through the training centre. It is such initiatives that are the backbone of the plant’s high utilisation rate.

ACC Ramliya’s Production Manager, Mahmoud Abdel Ghanry, explains how people are central to maintaining stable production: “The key to finding the optimum point of production is having the right people operating equipment. That is why we have development plans for all our employees and why we put tremendous effort into training them. They will determine how it will run and that takes the right knowledge and experience.”

ACC Ramliya’s operational highlights:
•10% higher utilisation rate than the industry average, with estimated revenues of EGP493 million in 2012- 2013

•Very low SO2 and CO2 emissions. In 2011, ACC Ramliya emitted 2% of the total TSP, but accounted for 6% of the total cement production in Egypt – a result unrivalled in the industry

•High proportion of local staff. Only 1% of the extensively trained local staff are expats

•Employee turnover of only 1.5%

More information from Morten Jess Nielsen, Tel:(00)4561679067/


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