Our intellectual capital is evidenced through:
a. New Product Development (39
products developed in FY16).
b. Process improvements that enable us to improve resource and energy efficiencies and productivity while reducing the environmental impact and operating costs.
c. Superior marketing enabling price premium over competition and most-preferred supplier for partnering by B2B customers.
We develop intellectual capital through strong process flows, collaboration with technology leaders and active encouragement by leadership for learning and experimentation.
The objectives of our research and technology initiatives are to support plant operations across the production value chain and make our manufacturing processes robust and efficient.
We have a long value chain – beginning at mining and running through raw material preparation, iron making, steel making, casting, rolling, finishing and finally delivering to the customer. While this makes it a complex business chain, it also offers opportunities for improvement along the length of the value chain. Our main focus areas are higher efficiency in iron ore and coal beneficiation, lower carbon consumption in iron making, optimised steel making mix, efficiency in lowering slag and CO2 generation and improving steel quality to achieve superior steel properties. The technological initiatives driving cost efficiency across the value chain are:
Our main focus is to operate the captive mines more efficiently and responsibly through the use of latest technologies that suit our mining conditions
To enhance the captive coal availability, initiatives such as high wall mining, shaft deepening, faster excavation methodology, use of high capacity equipment, GPS implementation and mechanisation, wherever possible, are being implemented. Likewise, we work towards increasing the clean coal yield through increase in combustible recovery and improvement in separation efficiency. In order to increase productivity of our open cast mines, we are implementing fleet management system (for efficient tracking and control of vehicles), advanced blasting techniques, etc. Further, to improve resource efficiency, we are taking initiatives in the area of beneficiation of ores, reducing iron ore discard to below 45%.
From a safety and cost perspective, we are exploring the applicability of technological developments like autonomous haulage, remote operations centre, predictive maintenance and drones for mine planning for our mining operations.
The major thrust areas in iron and steel making are detailed below:
i. Increase in usable agglomerates in iron making through reducing the sinter return fines to global benchmark level and increasing pellet productivity by 30 - 35%.
ii. Increase in coke strength after reaction through enriching blend with resin addition/shear crushing.
iii. Increase in Blast Furnace (BF) Pulverised Coal Injection (PCI) level (all furnaces) through hardware upgradation, BF control process refinements, increase in flux content and burden quality distribution.
iv. Increase in BF productivity for large BFs through increase in dry coke %, more pellets, increase in Pulverised Coal Injection and reduction in slag.
v. Reduce LD slag generation by 40-50% through designing and installing De-Si process in Blast Furnace cast houses, implementing double slag practice and other similar initiatives.
We have taken up several technology initiatives to improve our product quality – such as RH Degasser, automatic scarfing, vertical bending caster and automotive galvanizing line, among others.
New products such as micro-alloyed high strength steels for automotive, high strength Interstitial Free (IF) steel and Galva Annealed for two-wheeler fuel tanks have been launched. We also achieved cluster of Hot Rolled high-strength steel and became the first domestic integrated skin panel supplier and the first branded cold rolled steel seller.
Our focus in this area is to improve steel cleanliness, achieve benchmark casting speeds, produce wider width rolling steel, eliminate shape issues in cold rolled close annealed coils, eliminate patch defects and standardise snout systems.
For B2B customers, we have developed the required ‘know-how’ to be a partner of choice. This has been achieved through deploying product application resource at customer facilities for real time understanding of issues. Further, cross-functional teams from operations (like product technology, product application and marketing & sales) work together with customers to improve product efficiencies and reduce costs; ensuring transparency and building a win-win culture with customer organisation.
For B2C customers, approaches that have helped us to a premium position with high market share is given in the table overleaf.
The know-how behind high premiums for branded products has been developed through:
During the year, we developed the following products
To meet our customer requirements, we are pursuing new products to be developed under the following categories:
We are committed to minimising the environmental impact of our operations and products through the adoption of sustainable practices and continuous improvement in environmental performance. We have developed several new technological projects linked to waste utilisation and energy conservation such as de-phosphorisation of LD slag, water consumption optimisation through treatment, recycling, process modification to reduce water wastage, energy efficient waste heat recovery, improving combustion efficiency and hot charging.
We are working towards implementing a number of projects, some of which are:
The Company will continue to work on its strategy of ‘Value from Waste’. We launched Ground Granulated Blast Furnace Slag (GGBS) and a downstream product of Blast Furnace Slag. We re-cycle GGBS into cement to make an even stronger concrete and use it as a partial replacement of Ordinary Portland Cement (OPC) for up to 70%, thus bringing down the cost of concrete. The concrete made by using GGBS is stronger, more durable and eco-friendly. The other benefits of using GGBS are higher ultimate strength, low permeability, resistance to chloride and sulphite attacks etc.
In order to use the waste material and enhance value from it, we are exploring many futuristic ideas ranging from 3D printing to glazing of ceramics made from such waste.
During the year, we incorporated appropriate technology to increase productivity. We leveraged information and communication technology for efficient day-to-day operations, automated a few key business processes, developed hole detection system for cold rolled products and implemented IT systems to enhance business and workflow systems for employees, customers, suppliers and partners.
We have several forums (both internal and external) to capture futuristic themes leading to creation of value and intellectual assets. Our initiative ‘Innovent’ focuses on identifying customer requirements by using specific tools and developing them into business concepts.