Jul 30, 2020

Vedanta leverages Life Cycle Services to keep production flowing at Lanjigarh refinery

Vedanta Resources Limited is a globally diversified natural resources company with interests in zinc-lead-silver, Iron ore, Steel, Copper, Aluminum, Power, Oil and Gas. Headquartered in London in the United Kingdom, a significant proportion of their operations are in Africa, Ireland, Australia and India. One of the company’s ambitious projects is driven by it’s subsidiary Vedanta Limited, which is conducting a major expansion at it’s Lanjigarh alumina refinery located in the Odisha state of India.

Ambitious plans and unique slurry handling challenges

Vedanta Aluminium, a part of Vedanta Limited, is India's largest producer of aluminium, producing 1.95 million tonnes per annum (MTPA) in FY19. The company has two state-of-the-art aluminium smelters at Jharsuguda, (Odisha) and at BALCO in Korba, (Chhattisgarh), with a total installed capacity of 2.2 MTPA. A world-class 2 MTPA alumina refinery at Lanjigarh in Kalahandi district (Odisha) has made Vedanta a premier manufacturer of metallurgical grade alumina for the company's aluminium smelters. Rakesh Mohan, Chief Operating Officer at Vedanta Limited summed up the goals that the company holds for the Lanjigarh site “We have plans to see this plant become the world’s largest refinery and the vision is not so far away. We have the blueprint in place and are now looking to roll it out. As you know, an Alumina refinery is mainly comprised of pumps and pipe. You have liquor and slurry which you need to move from one place to another, onsite. In terms of the pumps and production, we believe in having a partner such as Metso, who has been with us in our journey since the opening of the plant.”

We have plans to see this plant become the world’s largest refinery and the vision is not so far away.

The challenges of keeping the refinery running smoothly revolve around the wear and tear on the many pumps used in moving slurries around the site, as well as the stresses on associated valves and seals. “Pumps are subjected to extreme conditions due to the nature of the slurry and the variety of the bauxites we handle, and which are used as the feed for alumina production. Considering this, the pumps reliability is extremely important” states CH. Prabhakar Rao, Head of Engineering for Vedanta Ltd.  “If a pump fails it will have repercussions on the process in terms of the downtime it creates, therefore the reliability of the equipment is of highest priority to us. Any equipment failure is also a safety concern, therefore the pumps reliability is crucial for us.”

However, finding resources, who are able to manage the maintenance of the many different types of pumps and other equipment in a remote location such as Lanjigarh, is not an easy task. “The skill levels of the people which we would be requiring is challenging in such a remote location, where our plant is installed” adds Prabhakar Rao.

“If a pump fails it will have repercussions on the process in terms of the downtime it creates, therefore the reliability of the equipment is of highest priority to us. Any equipment failure is also a safety concern, therefore the pumps reliability is crucial for us.”

LCS contract helps maintain high pump availability

With the reliability and availability of the slurry pumps at Vedanta, flagged as a critical factor for success, the company looked for a partner from the start of the refinery’s operations. For the initial greenfield project at Lanjigarh in 2003, Vedanta initially chose to award Metso with the supply of nearly 300 pumps which performed well and met the high expectations of the aluminum producer. It was not long after that Vedanta began to discuss a maintenance package for the upkeep of the pumps in operation. Vijay Dhar, Vice President Service, Pumps and Mining at Metso explains how the initial contract was put in place “In 2005, we started with a Life Cycle Services contract covering the maintenance for 200 pumps and as Vedanta expanded, additional pump orders were given to Metso and today we have around 600 pump supplied at the site. We support these pumps with a full LCS maintenance contract. Over the last few years, the scope of equipment covered has expanded and now includes 3rd party pumps, mechanical seals and valves, as the equipment covered under contract. Being on site we understand where the bottlenecks are, and our on-site team can propose solutions if problems arise.  We have also been able to assist with issues not covered by our life Cycle Services agreement such as in the case where Vedanta was looking to upgrade their screens and apron feeders.”

Repair shop ensures fast pump turnaround

In order to maintain and manage the reliability of the Metso and other 3rd party pumps on site, Metso has established an on-site repair facility under the LCS contract.  At the shop, 32 skilled technicians work to ensure round-the-clock support of the critical pumps, seals and valves. Rajesh Agarwal, DGM Sales and Service, Pumps for Metso India breaks down how the support works at the site. “Metso and Vedanta have identified 32 critical pumps which need to have 100 percent availability,” states Rajesh. “Once we get the notification that there is a problem with a pump, the pump is received in the workshop and is replaced by a standby unit which is already repaired so that the process is not hampered. The incoming pump, in need of repair, is usually turned around within 48 hours and ready to be used again when the next pump needs service.” 

To support this quick turnaround of pumps in need of service, Metso maintains a permanent team of skilled people working round the clock in 3 shifts at the Lanjigarh refinery. Weekly meetings with Vedanta are put in place to review root cause failure analysis as well as discuss corrective and preventive actions in order to minimize the chances of issues repeating again. Metso also makes recommendations on spare parts planning and conducts health audits on operating pumps in order to plan better for upcoming service work.

Looking to the future

With Vedanta’s growth plans moving ahead quickly, the role of the refiner’s partners becomes even more critical in order to support the expansion and growing plant assets. The performance of the pumping equipment and service levels are essential, but safety also plays a key role. Rakesh Mohan, COO at Vedanta sums up the partnership that Metso and Vedanta have developed after years of working together at Lanjighar  “I would like to commend and compliment the Metso team who work here shoulder to shoulder with my team members, on the excellent safety record they have. I am very satisfied and proud to share that Metso has been a wonderful partner. This plant will become the worlds largest refinery and we would love to have Metso as one of the key partners in our journey.”

More on Vedanta Resources Limited

Vedanta Resources Limited​ is a globally diversified natural resources company who extracts and processes minerals, oil and gas and employs more than 65,000 employees worldwide. Vedanta produces refined metals by processing and smelting extracted minerals at their zinc, lead, silver, copper, and aluminium smelters, as well as other processing facilities in India and Africa. The company is committed to conducting business in a socially responsible, ethical and environmentally friendly manner and to continuously work towards improving the quality of life of the communities in their operational areas. To advance its social goals, Vedanta has invested over US $17.63 million in community development initiatives such as the promotion of education for women, childcare and scholarships.

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