Seven Civil Engineering PhD students from PAUSTI’s 4th Cohort were very excited to visit the Savannah Cement production plant in Athi River, Kenya on 31st March 2017. Field visits is one of PAUSTI’s initiatives to bridge the gap between theory and practice, research and industry. Under the guidance of Dr. Kenneth Wanjau, the Lecturer for Entrepreneurship, the doctoral candidates learnt the entrepreneurial and innovative strategies employed by Savannah Cement Company to compete with the large multinational cement producing companies in Kenya.
Savannah cement is a 100% Kenyan owned company that manufactures cement for construction works in Kenya and the larger East Africa region and beyond. The company has the capacity to produce 140,000 tonnes of cement per day.
The students got the rare opportunity to see and touch the raw materials for cement production which comprise of pozzollana, clinker, limestone, gypsum and coal. The plant has modern conveyor belt and conveyor bucket systems to transfer the raw material to the dying, mixing and crushing chambers. To ensure quality of cement, Pozzollana material is dried using coal in a brick coated furnace that is heated up to 7000c. Once dry, Pozzolana is carefully mixed with clinker and gypsum at predetermined ratio before mixing and crushed to form cement in powder form ready for use. The company has set up stringent measured for quality control at every stage and this includes a fully equipped laboratory for testing raw materials, materials are various stage of production as well as testing of ready cement before dispatch to the market.
Savannah cement has adopted a unique characteristic of guaranteeing rapid early strength development together with superior workability compared to other cement products in Kenya. Finished product comprising of 42.5 N/mm3 (commonly known as Ordinary Portland Cement OPC) and 32.5 N/mm3 strength (Pozzolanna Portland Cement PPC). Once processed, it is stored in silo before dispatch to the customers whether in bulk or through bagging. The packaging system if semi-automated to increase efficiency and avoid wastage. Savannah cement is ISO certified and has incorporated environmental protection in their company strategy. To protect the environment, the company has installed dust suction system. It had further planted a lot of trees and greeneries within the office areas to act as carbon sinkers.
Through the field visit the PhD students were able to identify business opportunities throughout the cement production system. This include supply of raw materials, provision of transportation services for raw materials, provide software for ease of plant monitoring and management, marketing for Savannah Cement in their respective countries.
The students appreciate the generous hosting by Savannah Cement Company, organizing and coordination by Dr. Wanjau, the Lecturer for Entrepreneurship at PAUSTI.