Sanjay Wali, ED & Head – Sales, Marketing & Logistics, Dalmia Cement in an interview with B2B Purchase.

What is the outlook for Cement Demand? How would construction and infrastructure segment contribute in it?

Cement industry has been on a volume growth path led by several government initiatives and has bright prospects for this financial year. The enhanced budgetary allocation by the government on infrastructure projects and affordable housing scheme will be the primary driver of growth for the industry. The all-India cement production in FY22 is expected at 332 million tonne, up 12 per cent from last year

The rural housing demand is expected to be supported by the robust kharif harvest and continued healthy procurement, supporting farm income. The significant pick up in the infrastructure activity backed by the National Infrastructure Pipeline (NIP) is likely to see healthy traction in terms of new project awards and execution in the medium term, which is expected to boost cement demand.

In FY’23, the production is expected to grow 8 percent to around 358 million tonne.

Which sectors and which regions are going to be the major demand drivers?

The Eastern states of India are likely to be the new and untapped markets for cement consumption. Dalmia Cement is a market leader in these geographies.

East region has a per capita cement demand of 150- 175Kg compared to 225-250kg for India and 500-550kg for the world. East region’s GDP is expected to grow at 10.9 percent as compared to 9.6 percent for the entire country. Key demand drivers for the region include – Shortage of housing units, 45 percent PMAY houses constructed till now are in East region and various government funded infrastructure projects like Eastern Freight Corridor, Patna Metro, and Affordable Housing in Odisha etc. Also 21 out of 110 cities selected under Smart City Mission are located in East Region.

What is Dalmia Bharat’s go-to-market strategy? How does it helps creating a unique place for Dalmia Cement?

Ans: Our go-to-market strategy straddles across consumers, influencers, and the channel. We focus equally on these 3 stakeholders. On top of this, we are committed to net-zero carbon emission by 2040, for which we are focused on increasing the sales of greener cement options. These objectives coupled with added focus on leveraging digital technology, give us an edge in the market.

With a total capacity of 33MnT we at present are the 4th Largest cement player in the country and enjoy a leading market position in highly attractive East and South region. We aspire to be a pure play cement company and attain a total capacity of 130Mnt by 2031 and emerge as one of the most profitable & environment friendly company in cement sector in India.

While we aspire to be the leading player in IHB segment, we also play a big role in building nation critical infrastructure. We have mastered the art of offering products which perfectly match with the specific needs of Institutional customers. We are the pioneer’s in the development of Railway Sleeper cement and Oil Well Cement in India. We are also the largest manufacturer of SRPC cement in the country. Our innovative offering, ‘DALMIA INFRAGREEN’ is a fast setting, high strength cement. Runways, highway stretches, metro sections, can be opened within 3 days post the laying of concrete using DALMIA INFRAGREEN.

Please share insights on Dalmia Cement’s Journey in promoting Green Cement and how does it help in reducing the carbon footprint?

We take pride in leading many industries first initiatives which are helping us in our journey in becoming carbon negative.

Atmospheric CO2 levels and cement consumption is increasing with time. We at Dalmia cement recognise the risk and are taking steps to reduce the carbon footprint. Sustainable living will be the way of life in the future, and green cement is one of the most effective ways to lay an eco-friendly foundation.

Dalmia Cement extensively uses cementitious materials such as blast furnace slag from the steel industry and fly ash from thermal power plants, to lower the carbon emissions associated with cement production. This strategy has helped us to become one of the lowest carbon footprint cement companies in the world and one of the most profitable as well.

Dalmia Cement’s focus on manufacturing Greener (blended) cement has helped us lower our per ton Carbon footprint from 670 Kg CO2/t in FY’14 to 492 kg CO2/t cement in FY’21 – a reduction of ~27 percent in 7 years.

Which is Dalmia Bharat’s fastest growing brand and why?

Dalmia Cement (Bharat) Limited is paving the way for a carbon negative cement Industry, at the same time understanding customer needs is equally important. Our premium Brand “Dalmia DSP Cement” is an amalgamation of both.

We are focused on selling blended cement to ensure a lower carbon footprint, along with this ‘Dalmia DSP Cement’ is specially engineered for a high strength concrete. Higher percent of micro fine particles in Dalmia DSP Cement makes the concrete denser and impervious. This helps in guarding against cracks and leakages. Also reduced permeability of both water and oxygen provides better corrosion resistance to the embedded reinforcement in RCC, making the structure durable for decades.

Home construction is a once in a lifetime event and is an extremely emotional subject for a homebuilder. Considering which, we are committed to provide the right knowhow, not only through all possible digital mediums, but also with a strong on-field presence of technical experts (Civil Engineers) from Dalmia Cement. Our technical experts in all the regions where we operate provide on-site expert supervision to our customers during all stages of construction and provide them with reliable professional advice regarding the best construction practices as and when required.

What is Dalmia Cement’s objective, from a point of view of sales and product strategy?

With the overall objective to become carbon negative by 2040, we are focused on migrating entirely to blended cement in next 2-3 years Blended cement apart from giving good strength also helps in reducing the carbon footprint. By using cementitious materials like slag and flyash, we also save cost. In this way reducing emissions has a positive impact on the bottom line.

Dalmia Cement has a Diverse Product Portfolio with Strong Brand Recognition. We have witnessed a consistent Increase in the share of our premium product sales as a percentage of total sales. Our state of the art production facilities ensures best in class product quality and Supply Chain based on Smart Technology (focused on automation, mobility and cloud solutions) enables the best in class service to our channel and customers.

We have a fully equipped Research & Innovation Centre for development/optimisation of new product formulations. We have in place a comprehensive research & innovation roadmap to attain leading edge capabilities by defining its long-term goals. Global industry trends, customer demands, environmental needs. From our labs to production lines, we are experts in converting innovations into products. A major area of focus is to further develop blended cements with less clinker without compromising on strength parameters. Here, reduction of the proportion of clinker is the most important tool when it comes to minimising the energy consumption and CO2 emissions, and preserving natural resources.

For more than 8 decades Dalmia cement has been committed for delivering innovative and futuristic products addressing various customer needs.

What is Dalmia Cement’s strategy to leverage digitalisation?

We took the pandemic as opportunity to scale up our digital Journey and optimise our way of working.

A fully integrated suite of apps has been developed and deployed for our channel partners, influencers and field force. Now information can be shared and accessed seamlessly across all the applications. Our channel partners can place & track orders, make payments, and receive their statement of accounts through the mobile applications.

We have developed a WhatsApp based tool “Sales Buddy” that leverages machine learning algorithm at the back end, to identify various sales opportunities. We have used Machine Learning algorithms, to develop various predictive and prescriptive models focused on improving business efficiencies.

We introduced our first ‘digital worker’ for the sales & logistics functions, as we kick started our Robotic Process Automation (RPA) journey.  We have ensured round the clock services to our channel partners, thus reducing TAT from a day to few hours, ensure customer delight.

For creating excellence on the front of customer service – we implemented iIOT devices in our plants and installed GPS in the cargo vehicles for providing real time tracking to our channel partners.

Any new market trends that you foresee driving cement sales in the near future?

Cement volume growth will be driven by demand revival across segments ― infrastructure, housing and industrial ― as the impact of COVID-19 wanes.

Also Cement conventionally has been a low involvement category. However, the journey of involvement has already begun. Growing awareness amongst consumers and increased and improved availability of special products for special applications is propelling consumer’s involvement in this category.

Secondly, now consumers and influencers are far more active on digital platforms. The organisations which will be able to leverage the digital touchpoints will outperform the competition in the market.

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