Founded in 1954, Sharma Fabricators and Erectors is one of the leading erections and installation companies for the pulp and paper industry in India. Although SFE has gradually diversified its operations by entering into other segments like petrochemical, aluminum, power, staple viscose fibre etc., the pulp and paper industry is still the core focus for the company.
Mr. Vinod Sharma, Managing Director, Sharma Fabricators and Erectors (P) Ltd. sheds light on the business journey of his company, its venture into some diverse sectors and the necessary capabilities of the company which enables it in undertaking the projects, in an exclusive interview given to Paper Mart.
Excerpts from the interview:
Paper Mart: Could you please take us through the business journey of Sharma Fabricators and Erectors?
Vinod Sharma: Our journey began in 1954 when our founder Sri Ram Surat Sharma started with R.S. Sharma & Co. He bagged his first contract with Sirpur Paper Mills and then went on to work for Orient Paper Mills (OPM) in Brajrajnagar, and subsequently to their new unit in Amlai in 1964. The company had installed a 200 TPD paper machine supplied by Beloit for OPM-Amlai, which was the biggest paper machine in Southeast Asia at that time. As his engagements with pulp and paper mills increased, he was the obvious choice for the Hindustan Paper Corporation – a public sector enterprise, entrusted by the government to install modern and big paper projects in India and make India self-reliant in this field. We were proud to be associated with the installation of all paper machines for HNL Kerala, Nagaland Pulp & Paper and Nagaon Project in Assam.
We are proud to assert that we have been associated with the installations and bringing a mark of modernization to all the leading paper mills such as ITC Ltd-PSPD, Ballarpur Industries Ltd., Century Pulp and Paper, Emami Paper Mills Ltd, West Coast Paper Mills, International Paper APPM Ltd., Orient Paper Mills, Khanna Paper Mills, JK Paper Ltd., amongst a few others.
Sharma Fabricators and Erectors (P) Ltd. came into being in 1988 with an increased area of responsibility such as piping, electrical and instrumentation jobs also. This was also the time when the next generation of the company took charge. With new energy enthused in the company, SFE was immediately recognized by the paper industry as the only organized company delivering projects in a timely manner while ensuring quality and safety at the same time. All major and big pulp and paper mills in India such as Ballarpur Industries Ltd., ITC Ltd.-PSPD, Tamil Nadu Newsprint and Papers Ltd., West Coast Paper Mills, International Paper APPM Ltd., Khanna Paper Mills, Emami Paper Mills Ltd., JK Paper Ltd., Century Pulp and Paper, Orient Paper Mills, Abhishek Industries Ltd., Seshasayee Paper and Boards Ltd., Hindustan Paper Corporation became our esteemed clients, with many repeat orders for installation of their paper machines.
After consolidating in the country, SFE started looking abroad and did not take much time to establish its footprint in the overseas countries like Italy, Germany, France, Japan, Portugal, Turkmenistan, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Jordan, Israel, Finland, Norway, Uruguay, Vietnam, Bangladesh and Ghana. We started the relocation of paper machines in a big way, dismantling of existing paper mills abroad and re-locating these plants to different places in India and also to different other countries around the world.
In the meantime, SFE took yet another step to launch its ‘Consultancy Division’ to provide detail engineering services to the pulp and paper industry for all streams – civil, mechanical, piping, electrical, instrumentation and automation. SFE can now help its customers find second-hand pulp mills and paper machines with engineering capabilities for their capacity expansion plans.
PM: Considering the diversification of the company with venturing into different sectors – petrochemical, aluminum, power, etc., however, the pulp and paper industry still being the major focus of the company. Are you planning to foray into new industries also that are in line with the company’s vision?
VS: Yes, of course. Keeping pulp and paper as the core of our ‘Head’ and ‘Heart’, it is always challenging for any entrepreneur to swim in unknown territories and come out successfully. In addition to immense satisfaction, it also allows the company to grow and enhance its capabilities. Although the pulp and paper industry is still our focus, we have ventured into aluminum, textile, petrochemical, petroleum, power, and chemical preparation industries; and we have successfully completed the installation of multiple projects in India and abroad.
We are well equipped with the latest and sophisticated precision instruments, sufficient tools of international standard and quality, and lifting and shifting equipment in healthy condition with all the necessary certifications.
Thus, SFE is now in a position to serve almost all kinds of industries in the country and abroad, and has obtained repeat orders from all its esteemed clients.
PM: What is the current size of the company in terms of manpower and fabrication facilities?
VS: The Company is currently working in four projects, but, we are quite capable of managing 8 to 9 projects at a time. SFE has about 200 staff (Engineers, Supervisors, Finance & Accounts, HR & Administration, and Quality & Safety) and about 1300 workers in its roll. We also have a fabrication shop to undertake any type of project that involves fabrication.
PM: How has the Indian pulp and paper mills evolved with regard to the technology, on finding ways to remove production bottlenecks, reduce production costs, efficient use of resources and saving energy? What is the role played by your company in enabling the various paper mills you have associated with, in bringing about the consequential evolution and necessary upgradation?
VS: To keep pace with the rest of the world, Indian pulp and paper mills have also undergone a sea of changes; whether it is an agro-residue based mill or forest-based mill, both have adapted to Continuous Digesters – which requires less space and delivering uniform pulp and saving utilities for the mill. In addition, ECF Bleaching has been adopted by different mills to eliminate elemental chlorine, which would otherwise pose a threat to aquatic animals. Apart from consuming less water, it imparts high brightness to pulp and greatly reduces the impact on the environment.
The Dewatering Press in the washing section of the pulp mill significantly increases the WBL solids content, thereby reducing steam consumption in the evaporator. Modern falling film evaporators and high-efficiency recovery boilers with ESP adopted by the Indian mills have made it possible to offset steam and power in the recovery island, besides generating high-pressure steam resulting in more power and recovery of more chemicals.
The fluting/testliner grade paper has a tremendous potential of growth in the near future, and mills have essentially changed to OCC processing, thereby saving the expense on costly forest-based raw materials. Also, the multi-layer forming part followed by the jumbo press/shoe press is giving an edge to an excellent steam economy.
Recently, we have achieved a significant step forward by installing a Valmet supplied new 1250 TPD paper machine as well as a 200 TPD tissue machine which no other company in India has done. So far, we have a unique experience in installing, dismantling, or rebuilding more than 100 paper machines.
In writing & printing or newsprint grades, there has been many innovations of late such as the introduction of deinked bleached pulp, efficient refiners, adoption of acid seizing to alkaline sizing with the introduction of AKD/AKS & use of PCC, enabling remarkably high percentage of filler in paper, saving costly fiber. Also, with the increase in production and speed, deculator cleaner followed by a variable speed headbox feed pump has made a major role in excellent runnability as well as a good profile for a wide and high-speed machine. Nowadays, shoe presses are essential part of the Press Section giving 48-50% dryness of the web, achieving specific steam consumption of 1.1-1.2 tons/ton of paper.
In order to keep pace with the high-speed machine and quickly process the generated debris in a short time, in the strategic location of the basement, the Uni-run dryer is located on the pre-dryer, and the under-machine pulper is located underground. Also, with the introduction of silent dryer drives in place of open gears/closed gears, the mills now experience lesser noise and it also enables to save a good amount of power, and also, broke disposal becomes easier due to a new set of open frames at the drive side of dryers. Nowadays, metering presses enable mills to operate with high size pick-up at an elevated speed. This process is followed by Infra-Red Dryer, then an on-line coater followed by Soft-nip calendar to impart gloss and uniform caliper which is another feather in the cap. Also, the bigger diameter jumbo rolls facilitate in saving waste in finishing section. The gooseneck paper cutter at reel along with the web inspection system and break detectors are some of the common features in the modern machine.
We are proud to assert that we have been associated with the installations and bringing a mark of modernization to all the leading paper mills such as ITC Ltd-PSPD, Ballarpur Industries Ltd., Century Pulp and Paper, Emami Paper Mills Ltd, West Coast Paper Mills, International Paper APPM Ltd., Orient Paper Mills, Khanna Paper Mills, JK Paper Ltd., amongst a few others. In every project we have worked on, we have successfully executed each project within a scheduled time frame with accuracy and safety.
PM: With the requirements of the various projects, Sharma Fabricators and Erectors has worked in the past in the pulp and paper industry; how do you think the variety of techniques and execution differs with regard to the commissioning and installation of new machinery as compared to second-hand? Also, how does it vary when it is a domestic plant and when it is an overseas one?
VS: As far as installation is concerned, there is no difference in new and second-hand machines – high level of precision, safety and quality, and every other aspect to be considered is the same. However, for second-hand machines, an important feature is “overhauling” which is a task requiring great expertise, diligence and care. Proper overhauling is essential for the health and long life of the machine once it is relocated and commissioned for trouble-free runnability.
Nowadays, there is no difference in technical standards between a machine installed in India and that installed abroad. However, stringency in discipline and safety standards is still much superior in overseas projects than in Indian projects. Besides, there are many statutory compulsions such as visa, work permit, social security, minimum wage rate (which is much higher than that in India) and a few other provisions which are to be strictly followed.
PM: Having expertise in detail engineering, erection and commissioning of new pulp mill and paper machines and the modernization of existing machines, could you please shed some light on the necessary capabilities of the company which enables it in undertaking these turnkey projects?
VS: There are some definite aspects which enable us in executing our projects successfully; for instance, in ‘detail engineering’, factors such as qualification, knowledge, experience, database and regular updating of the data are very essential. In execution of ‘overhauling and erection’, capabilities like significant know-how, expertise, hands-on experience, a team of well qualified and skilled people in rank and file are some of the key and defining aspects which helps us in carrying out various projects.
Moreover, we are well equipped with the latest and sophisticated precision instruments, sufficient tools of international standard and quality, and lifting and shifting equipment in healthy condition with all the necessary certifications. The electrical distribution panels comply with all the safety norms, as well as the availability of the latest welding and other related machinery, safety appliances and regular quality control, thereby gives us a unique distinction and capability to bring about the projects successfully in a timely and effective manner.
PM: Has there been any recent developments at Sharma Fabricators and Erectors which you would like to talk about and what are the future plans of the company going forward?
VS: We would like to proudly state that all high capacity paper machines used in the mills in India have been installed by us. Recently, we have achieved a significant step forward by installing a Valmet supplied new 1250 TPD paper machine as well as a 200 TPD tissue machine which no other company in India has done. So far, we have a unique experience in installing, dismantling, or rebuilding more than 100 paper machines.
With unparalleled rich experience along with dedication and sincerity to every project, SFE has the distinction of being trusted by world-renowned machine manufacturers to pre-assemble machine sections before delivery to their clients in India and Abroad. In view of this development, SFE is actively planning to establish its pre-assembly shop somewhere in central/ western India.
We are also in the business of renewable energy and we supply and install solar power projects, as well as build and sell solar power to establishments on a long term basis. Recently, we have opened an overseas wing in Canada and USA to explore business opportunities in these regions.