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MENA update: part two

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World Cement,

Outsourcing for stability

MENA update: part two

Outsourcing elements of cement operation and maintenance (O&M) can help cement producers achieve greater stability in production processes within the prevailing business environment. Benefits include access to a qualified workforce and the best process know-how in the industry. Yet operation and maintenance should only be outsourced to a trusted, stable partner who can help cement plant owners navigate difficult times and mitigate uncertainty. This was the case for a cement plant in Libya, who despite operating in a region embroiled in turmoil, has been able to rely on its partner, FLSmidth Operation & Maintenance, to provide the business with stability throughout the years of conflict.

When managed the right way, uncertainty can lead to opportunities. One such example is a plant in Egypt that, with the assistance of FLSmidth Operation & Maintenance, introduced installations for burning alternative fuels and coal. These installations also allowed the plant to substitute natural gas, which had become increasingly scarce and costly. The execution of this pioneer project in Egypt allowed the cement plant owner to maintain production when competitors couldn’t and increase market share, which has been maintained to this date.

Local skills

A workforce consisting of locally employed personnel not only benefits the local economy, but also creates a more sustainable future for the plant through less reliance on imported labour. Much of this rests on constant training and skills development covering the entire spectrum of plant operations, from specific equipment operation and repair through process management to overall plant management. An O&M partner should be able to provide training in the necessary technologies and processes and at best provide a fully qualified workforce.

Working with a partner that understands how to navigate local market conditions is vital. As a relative newcomer to the industry, a cement plant in Iran had planned to produce one type of cement. However, it turned out that demand for this type of cement dropped. After analysing the market and the plant’s configuration, FLSmidth Operation & Maintenance suggested diversifying in order to produce a different type of cement that would have more traction in the market.

Global reach

This type of collective know-how is only possible through extensive experience in many different environments. As cement producers in the MENA region are increasingly looking for export opportunities, they are increasingly subjected to global forces. It is vital they have a finger on the pulse through access to expert knowledge and state-of-the-art technologies. And, whereas each local environment has its own challenges and therefore requires unique solutions, the ability to create a workable solution often depends on the experience gained elsewhere. This is why it is essential to work with an O&M partner with global experience and a long history of successful operations.

Produce efficiently

With the predicted cement surplus in the MENA region, cement prices are likely to be under pressure for the foreseeable future, forcing cement producers to focus on efficient production processes if they are to maintain resilience to market dynamics. This requires effective cost control and industry-leading plant management backed up by proven systems and effective proactive maintenance practices. Cement producers would be well advised to acquire the services of a trusted partner with the necessary expertise and capabilities to bring greater stability to their business performance.

This is part two of a two-part article written for World Cement’s November issue and abridged for the website. Subscribers can read the full November issue by signing in, and can also catch up on-the-go via our new app for Apple and Android. Non-subscribers can access a preview of the November 2016 issue here.

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