Source: eKapija | Wednesday, 20.10.2021.| 16:45
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Milos Milojevic, Plant Manager at Moravacem – We are Testing the Use of AI and Drones in Cement Production Process

(Milos Milojevic) The cement factory Moravacem is located in central Serbia, in the village of Popovac, near Paracin, 160 km south of Belgrade. The annual capacities of the cement factory are 1,350,000 tons of cement and adhesives. With three concrete factories near Belgrade, in Krnjaca, Dobanovci and Zemun, Moravacem is also present in the market of finished concrete.

Moravacem is a member of CRH, a leading international group in the field of construction materials, which employs 76,600 people in over 3,100 operating locations in 29 countries worldwide. With a market capitalization of EUR 27.6 billion, CRH is the largest company in the building materials industry in North America and the second biggest in the world.

We talked about the current projects, internal investments and plans with Milos Milojevic, the plant manager at Moravacem, who will take the position of the company’s commercial and executive director on May 1, 2022.

The whole world is affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, which broke out in March 2020 and is ongoing. Many industries are facing a big crisis. Has the epidemic influenced the cement industry in Serbia in the past year and a half?

– The first two months following the outbreak of Covid were truly dramatic for the cement industry as well. The lockdown and all the other circumstances we found ourselves in did not allow for a high volume of construction works. Luckily, the construction industry adapted quickly to the new conditions and, with the help of big capital projects that are realized in our country, as well as the boosted apartment building, continued the growth which it had been experiencing for several preceding years.

With its production of cement, Moravacem is located in central Serbia, which gives us a good territorial position to take part in large infrastructure projects in the entire country. Furthermore, our company also produces concrete in three locations in Belgrade, in the market where the intensity of the construction is extremely high.

The favorable geographic coverage, diversity and quality of the production program, as well as the flexibility of our organization, have enabled us to take active part in large capital project and realize a growth even during the pandemic. While the majority of the world stagnated, we kept working in order to secure the best quality of products and services, realizing excellent results, for which we owe great gratitude to our employees and our purchasers.

Morava Corridor
Morava Corridor (Photo: Moravacem)

In which important projects is your company taking part?

– We are currently taking part in numerous very important project, among which I would like to highlight: Morava Corridor (Pojate-Preljina), Corridor 11 highway (Preljina-Pozega section), reconstruction and expansion of copper mine in Bor, Belgrade-Sarajevo highway section (Kuzmin-Sremska Raca), waste water treatment facilities in Vranje and Krusevac, Lidl logistics-distribution center near Lapovo, construction of Svrackovo dam (Arilje), construction of Brzece-Kopaonik gondola, construction of biogass power plant in Plandiste, reconstruction of rail corridor 10, several shopping malls (Krusevac, Pozarevac, Smederevo)… and numerous residential-office facilities in Belgrade, Novi Pazar, Nis, Kragujevac, Paracin…

I would add that our operations in the past period have not only taken place in Serbia, but also in the neighboring Montenegro, so we are very proud that we have taken part in the construction of the magnificent Moracica bridge, near Podgorica.

As for the concrete segment, we are also active there and the most important projects we have taken part in are Belgrade Waterfront – Belgrade Tower, Milos Veliki highway section (Surcin-New Belgrade) and construction of Brose factory in Pancevo.

Tell us something about the investments you’ve had in the company, which are related to the upgrade of business operations and the production process.

– Moravacem is part of one of the biggest global companies for the production of building materials, CRH Group, and our investments in the improvement of various aspects of the production process are thereby systematic, structured and constant.

Investments in the improvement of the production process, to the end of reducing the environmental impact, are the most pronounced, but lately there have also been investments related to the digitalization of our internal processes. The most important investment, worth close to EUR 10 million, is the installation of the clinker cooler in our rotating furnace, which simultaneously rationalizes the production process, increases product quality and reduces negative environmental impact. This technological improvement enables a reduction of the spending of the thermal energy, an increased use of alternative fuels, which considerably reduces CO2 emissions.

To the end of improving the quality of products and services we provide and to meet the increasingly challenging market demands, we are developing a concrete lab, increasing the loading capacities of bulk cement, and our logistics department is increasing the rolling stock.

Following the trend of digitalization and the industrial revolution 4.0 and aiming to have our operations be up to date, we are testing the use of artificial intelligence and drones in the process of the production of cement, and we have upgraded other business processes by fully switching to electronic invoices, e-tenders, and we are now preparing an e-portal and e-transport, which will enable a more efficient process of ordering our products and services for our clients.

Through a permanent upgrading of the quality of our products and services, we are fully ready to meet all the challenges of the digitalization, which remains one of our priorities.
(Photo: Moravacem)

As a special sector within Moravacem, the daughter company Sapphire, which takes care of non-hazardous waste, was founded. What role does Sapphire play in the operations of the cement factory?

– The problem of waste treatment is one of the most important ecological problems that Serbia is facing today. In western Europe and the more developed part of the world, the cement industry has been recognized as an industry which can most efficiently treat certain categories of non-hazardous waste.

The high temperatures which develop in cement furnaces in the production of clinker as a semi-product for the production of cement enable the alternative fuels to be co-processed, that is, to do co-incineration, whereby there is no negative environmental impact, on the contrary, a reduction of CO2 emissions occurs.

This also takes care of the amount of non-hazardous waste in the ground and reduces it, the production process becomes more economical, natural resources are preserved and greenhouse emissions are reduced. To that end, Moravacem has founded its daughter company Sapphire, which manages waste, collects and pre-treats certain kinds of non-hazardous waste.

What are the further plans for the cement factory in Popovac?

– The construction industry in Serbia is very dynamic. Judging by the projections of international finance institutions and the feedback from the market, its growth in the field of capital infrastructure projects and residential construction is expected to continue, which creates a favorable business climate and makes our plans extremely ambitious.

We plan to increase the production capacities in order to support the growth of the volume of the construction activities in the country. On the other hand, the cement industry and the CRH group which we are a part of, has obliged to CO2 neutrality by 2050 and, related to that, we have extremely demanding goals for the reduction of emissions with greenhouse effects in the upcoming years. We are adapting the portfolio of our products, preparing the types of cement in whose production there’s less CO2 emissions, with the aim of supporting green building and reducing the negative impact of the construction industry on the environment.

Finally, I would like to underline that our employees are our biggest strength, and our plans are related to improving the business culture and its further growth. The priority, not just here in Moravacem, but in the entire group, is to raise the awareness of our employees of the importance and success of an inclusive and varied business environment, as well as to balance the business obligations with the private lives, workshops with the topic of the importance of a healthy diet, healthy activities, the importance of a good sleep and spending time with your family and friends. In the Covid environment, these topics are of crucial importance for preserving the health of our employees, and with that the success of our company.

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