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From Heritage Plant to Production Powerhouse: Part 2

World Cement,

Read part 1 here.

Adapting and developing

Lafarge US is strategically positioned to support its US markets and to increase capacity to serve major northeastern metropolitan areas, including in New England and New York City. The Lafarge Ravena plant is a good fit in this strategy. Leveraging its dedicated workforce and deep-water shipping delivery capability, Lafarge US has won major project business across the region, including the new Freedom Tower at the World Trade Center in lower Manhattan and the Global Foundries chip-fab plant in Malta, Saratoga County. The plant supplies more than 1 million t of high-quality Portland cement to projects across the northeastern United States.

These successes have enabled Lafarge Ravena to maintain its community activities. In addition to supporting charities including Little League, Brownie troops and school organisations, Lafarge has been the prime sponsor of the Ravena Friendship Festival. The plant’s Deer Mountain Nature Preserve received recognition from the Wildlife Habitat Council as a Corporate Lands for Learning Certified site and as a Signatures of Sustainability site, while the Portland Cement Association (PCA) recognised the Ravena plant for its outreach programme (runner up) and land stewardship programme (finalist). To achieve this success means adapting to changing overall economic conditions and right-sizing production capability to markets.

As such, Lafarge has revisited plans for its Ravena cement plant upgrades. “The company was faced with an investment choice and we chose to completely modernise the plant,” explained Campbell. “The core benefit of this agreement for us is to retain the jobs that are right there in the community and maintain the manufacturing of cement in New York – at one of the state-of-the-art facilities around the world.”

The extension agreement ensures that the project will be completed by June 2016, avoiding a previously anticipated shutdown and protecting 112 existing union and non-union jobs at the plant. Construction at the plant will employ up to 800 people, with an estimated budget of several hundred million US dollars.

The Lafarge Ravena plant improvement plans include construction of a new kiln, kiln motors, preheater cyclones and clinker cooling systems. State-of-the-art process control and emission reduction techniques include a substantial reduction in mercury, plus a CO2 Best Available Control Technology assessment by the US EPA and the NYS DEC. The plant will also feature the built-in capability to handle a variety of fuels, ensuring the efficiency of various fuel mixtures. This flexibility will allow Lafarge Ravena to continue meeting or exceeding future strict EPA emission standards.

An extension agreement finalised between Lafarge and both EPA and DEC in November 2013 further tightens environmental standards, notably more stringent emission limits for sulfur dioxide and mercury. The agreement reduces each by 20% over three years, compared to the first-of-its-kind voluntary mercury cap currently governing emissions. The agreement also allocates US$1.5 million from Lafarge to future projects benefitting the local environment.

Skilled staff

To oversee the transformation of Lafarge Ravena, the company has appointed veteran cement production professional Michael Kralik as Plant Manager.

“Significant capital investments are being committed to the Ravena plant,” Kralik affirmed recently. “Lafarge is focused on transforming the Ravena plant into an efficient, competitive, state-of-the-art facility equipped with advanced features that enhance productivity and ensure environmental safety.”

The improvements that Kralik is overseeing at the Lafarge Ravena plant will deliver important benefits in efficiency, competitiveness and environmental quality, and they will maintain opportunities for a high-quality area workforce.

“Progress on the modernisation project is already happening,” said John Light, Senior Project Manager for Lafarge. “Visually, by midsummer, we’ll begin to see the initial phases of the installation of our tower, an essential component of our new plant, and continued foundation construction for the new equipment. By mid-2015, we’ll see the principal elements of the kiln system being built onsite, along with the erection of the auxiliary equipment and infrastructure.”

These improvements also signal Lafarge’s strong ongoing commitment to serving its North American markets through efficient delivery of high quality Portland cement from a new facility, linked to regional markets by direct access to a deepwater port.

The modernised Ravena plant will be a state-of-the-art production powerhouse that Lafarge and its customers can rely on, well into the future – a local facility with global importance.

Written by Craig Campbell and Joëlle Lipski-Rockwood, Lafarge North America Inc., USA. This is an abridged version of the full article, which appeared in the April 2014 issue of World Cement. Subscribers can view the full article by logging in.

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