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Riding on the back of a strong product portfolio and intelligent, innovations, Grasim Cement is firmly into expansion mode.

When one discusses the behemoths of Indian industry, it is hard to miss the name Grasim Industries Limited, the flagship of the Aditya Birla Group. Currently, it ranks among India's 10 largest private sector companies in terms of assets and sales, with a turnover of Rs 4626 crore in financial 2003. Having commenced operations as a textiles manufacturer in 1948, it has diversified into sponge iron, chemicals, textiles and cement. Among all these industries, it is cement, which stands out as the focus area for the company.

In the mid-eighties, with the opening up of the cement industry, Grasim diversified into cement production. Its first cement plant at Jawad in central India went on stream in 1985. Since then the cement division of Grasim has grown rapidly - with two more plants coming up at Raipur and Shambhupura.

In the same year, with the consolidation of the group's cement operations, the cement business of group company Indian Rayon was transferred to Grasim. This added India's largest single-location grey cement plant at Raipur (Madhya Pradesh), Shambhupura (Rajasthan), Reddipalayam (Tamil Nadu), Sikka (Gujarat), Malkhed (Kamataka), Hotgi and one of the world's largest white cement plants at Kharia Khangar (Rajasthan) in Grasim's kitty. Since then, its cement business has grown rapidly, making it one of India's premier cement companies.

Its cement production for financial 2003 was 11.09 million tons (MT). Grasim Cement is India's third largest cement manufacturer, with an aggregate grey cement capacity of 13.41 million tonnes per annum spread across India with implementation of ongoing modemisation and capacity expansion projects through removal of bottlenecking.

In 1998, Grasim acquired Dharani Cements with its plant at Ariyalur (Tamil Nadu), strengthening its position in the south and west. The unit was subsequently merged and together with the recently-expanded plant at Reddipalayam, is known as Grasim South. Shree Digvijay Cement, a subsidiary company of Grasim, which was acquired in 1998, has its integrated grey cement plant at Sikka (Gujarat).

At each of these plants, due attention has been paid to infrastructure to facilitate seamless operations. The plants are located close to sizeable limestone mines and are fully automated to ensure consistently good quality. Grasim has procured railway wagon rakes to ease the problem of movement of cement besides saving on transportation cost. The company has a captive jetty having dry cargo capacity of 3 million tones per annum. This jetty is used to export cement and clinker and to import coal for captive use.

All the company's cement units are well equipped and are ISO 9001 certified for quality systems and ISO 14001 certified for environmental management systems. With 75 per cent of its power requirements coming through captive sources, the company has incurred a capital expenditure of Rs 189 crore, towards setting up of two power plants of 23 MW and 12.5 MW capacity. The power plant at Aditya Cement was commissioned in March 2003 at a cost of
Rs 84 crore. The remaining expenditure has been incurred on setting up the power plant at Grasim Cement south.

Grasim has repositioned its portfolio of cement brands under the Aditya Birla Group logo. Cement is available in the market in a number of grades including 33,43,53 OPC (Ordinary Portland Cement) and PPC (Pozzolona Portland Cement). Vikram Cement is also known for its special cement like SRC (Sulphate Resistant Cement) meant especially for use in specific applications.

To leverage its brand equity, Birla Plus, Birla Super and Birla Ready Mix have been identified as national brands. The Birla White cement has made its mark in the niche segment of flooring and wall finishing.

To fulfill customer needs in niche segments, Birla White has introduced two new products - Birla White GRC (Glass Reinforced Concrete) and Birla White Wall Care Putty and the Birla White Glass Reinforced Concrete. With a rising demand from customers for quality and standardisation, Birla Ready mix has an edge with quick and prompt delivery of fresh factory-made concrete, delivered at the customer's site.

The company has commissioned four ready-mix concrete plants of an aggregate capacity of 1 million cubic metres at Hyderabad, Chennai, Noida and Bangalore. Moreover, with the existing six plants of 420-m3/hr capacity and plans for more, Birla Ready mix enables customers to plan for just-in-time concreting.

Recognising the fact that a large product portfolio does not necessarily ensure success in the intensely fragmented and competitive cement industry, Grasim Industries Ltd. offers a host of value-added services to customers, viz, concrete mix design, cube testing services, non-destructive testing and training and site visits by qualified engineers. It is pooling the collective inputs of construction professionals knowledge, through a web based knowledge community. There are mobile testing cement silos at Bangalore to deliver fresh cement at the customer's doorstep, A very innovative concept developed by Grasim Industries Ltd. was the launch of 'Mobile Concrete Laboratory', at almost 38 locations throughout India.

Grasim is strengthening its hold over distribution, by its foray into retailing. Birla Super Shoppes - a chain of exclusive cement outlets, are taking shape across the country. Each Shoppe has a qualified civil engineer who assists customers.
These initiatives explain exactly why the company was awarded the National award for Quality Excellence in Indian Cement Indusfry by the National Council for Cement and Building Materials, in the year 2000-01.

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