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English Indian Clays Ltd About the Company English Indian Clays Limited (EICL, has two key business segments viz Clay Business and Starch Business with strong R&D set-up at all its three manufacturing locations. English Indian Clays Limited was incorporated on 18th November 1963, in technical and financial collaboration with English China Clays Limited, UK (now known as ECC Group plc, UK). The collaboration with ECC ceased in the year 1992. EICL has since been actively engaged in the manufacture and processing of China Clay of different grades for use as a coating agent and filling agent.

The Company has its clay manufacturing units at Veli, Thonnakkal and Kollam located in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala. The installed capacity of the plants was 36, 000 MT per annum initially and it has since been increased to 2, 13, 600 MT per annum as of date. The Starch business has two manufacturing divisions at Yamunanagar in Haryana and Puducherry. The Starch division at Yamunanagar can trace its origins back to 1937 when Late Lala Karam Chand Thapar promoted a Company by the name of Indian Starch & Chemicals Limited.

The name of this Company was later changed to Bharat Starch Industries limited. The Starch Division at Puducherry was set up in 1994-95 to manufacture modified starches for industrial uses. The Divisions have the distinction of being the only Starch Company in India to have acquired ISO-9002 certification and DSIR recognized R & D centre. Current starch producing capacity of the Company is 1, 01, 040 MT per annum. The Company acquired the starch business of erstwhile Bharat Starch Industries Limited (BSIL) with effect from April 1, 2001. Clay Division:

The Company manufactures varieties of superior grade China Clay for diversified applications such as pigments, extender, filler and as raw material in different industries. Superior Coating Grade Kaolin is produced under the trademarks ‘ Supercoat’, ‘ Higloss’, ‘ Hibrite’ and ‘ BCK’ in the form of lumps, powder, and pre-dispersed Spray Dried Powder, Filler and Coating Grade Clay under trade mark ‘ KCG’ as lumps, powder, and pre-dispersed Spray Dried Powder. Calcined Clay, used as a substitute for Titanium Dioxide in Paints, Paper, Detergents, and other grades, is also manufactured by EICL to ater to niche markets. As pigment and extender, China Clay it is used extensively in the paper and paints industry. As filler, it is used in the manufacture of plastics, detergents, rubber goods and paper; as raw material, it is used by glass and ceramic industries for making fiberglass and porcelain respectively. As additive, it is used by the soap industry and it is also used by the paper industry for specialty coating purposes as well in order to impart strength and shine and water repellent characteristics to the paper.

Here I’m going to give an insight on the different products that EICL produces and the operational procedures the company is following at its Thonnakkal (Specialty Products Division) plant. Raw Material The raw material for the plant is raw clay. Raw clay is obtained from both captive mines and vendor mines. The chemical name of raw clay is KAOLIN (AL2O3. 2SIO2. 2H20). The raw clay matrix can be of different grades. They are generally classified according to the percentage of clay content and the brightness factor associated with it. They are ??? High white ??? 85 brightness and 60% recovery White ??? 84 brightness and 60% recovery ??? Grey ??? 81 brightness and 60% recovery ??? Pink ??? 79 brightness and 60% recovery ??? Sandy White ??? 84 brightness and 25% recovery The percentage of availability of these clay varieties varies. White/high white and the least available and pink and sandy white are the most available clay. But the consumption of white/high white matrix is the maximum. Different grades of clay are blended in various ratios to make the final product. The raw materials are collected at a yard as per the grades and from there they are send for refining.

Refining Refining is the process of cleaning the clay of sand, iron components and graphite components. There are two stages of refining included. The first stage consists of blunging and sand removal. Blunging is done to remove the small lumps of clay and make them into an even mixture. The slurry from blunger is send to Bowl Rake Classifiers (BRCs) where the coarser sand particles settle due to gravity. Hydro-cyclones are also engaged to further clean the slurry of sand. In the second stage of refining, sodium silicate is added to the slurry to increase the pH. This is called bleaching.

The purpose of bleaching is to remove the iron content from clay. After bleaching the slurry is stored in tanks. Drying Two types of techniques are used for drying. One is by rotary drying and the other is by spray drying. The refined slurry is screened and from there they are sent to hydraulic presses. The presses, by its own method, remove the moisture from the slurry and the resultant product will have a moisture content of 18-22%. This is then dried in a chamber where the temperature is maintained at 1100C. The steam generated from the dryer is sucked out along with fine china clay.

This is made to pass through a bag filter. This filter absorbs the dust collected. This dust is then forced out by an air blow of 6. 5 kg/cm2. The product at this stage has a moisture content of 8-12 %. This dust is made to pass through an attriter mill which reduces the moisture content by 3%. Packing to the dispatch system The product from the attriter is sent to four silos which have a capacity of 30MT each. Each silo have two spouts for bagging. Plastic bags are kept at each spout. After filling the bag at each spout, they are passed on to a horizontal conveyor located below.

In conjunction with the horizontal conveyor, an inclined conveyor is installed. The bags are thus positioned towards the body of the truck where the load man picks it up. Area of Concern Since the products that the company manufactures are used in sensitive fields, the products need to adhere to strict quality bench marks. But the point to be noted here is that the quality of the output depends on the quality of the inputs. The output under consideration here is the different grades of clay that is being manufactured at the processing plant. The input is the raw clay that is fed into the blunger in the process.

Even if there are lot of other inputs like chemicals, furnace oil etc. we shall consider the raw clay as our main input. The quality of clay matrix fed into the blunger may vary a lot. The clay bench may not be uniform across all the mines. It may vary a lot. There is a constant difference of opinion between the processing labs and the mines. The white clay matrix is an important component in improving the quality of the product. The consumption of white matrix is nearly 63% of the total consumption while its availability at the mines is just 18%. As a policy of the company we look for conservation of our reserves.

The processing labs insist on sending more and more of white matrix and the mines team have problems in sending them due to various considerations like statutory obligations. On a practical front, what happens is that the mines team start sending clay matrix which slightly falls below the technical specifications labeling them as white. This when used in the product, will lead to quality issues. Solution The solution lies in advance planning and proper co-ordination between the two departments. Both departments should be briefed well about the product requirements.

The anticipated problems should be well addressed then. Back up plans also should be looked upon considering any chance of surprise orders. The possible long term and short term plans are as below. 1. The processing lab team and the mines team should be briefed well in advance about the product requirements. 2. Proper co-ordination between both the teams should be maintained. 3. The Mines team should be asked to strictly adhere to the supply plan. 4. The R team should look into the minimal use of the rare commodities. By implementation of the above mentioned actions, these sort of conflicts can be at best be avoided.