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FSC To Introduce Benchmarking On Mill Performance

FSC To Introduce Benchmarking On Mill Performance
Fiji Sugar Corporation chief executive officer Graham Clark and chief operating officer Navin Chandra after a press conference at the FSC Head Office, Balawa, Lautoka. Photo: Charles Chambers
July 09
12:27 2018

The Fiji Sugar Corporation will from this year intro­duce technical and opera­tional benchmarking of its mills performances with similar sized sugar mills in India, Africa and Mauritius.

In a special press conference at the FSC Headquarters yesterday, company chief executive officer Graham Clark said it was worthy of note that on initial review, FSC was already operating at compara­tive levels in some but not all areas.

“There is room for improvement and this is what we will strive for going forward,” Mr Clark said.

He said the Lautoka Mill opera­tions have stabilised after crush­ing for the last four days, since starting up last Tuesday, July 3.

“Two notable mechanical issues have impacted on the operations so far and both have been rectified by the FSC engineering team.

“The first stoppage resulted from electrical outages as the old elec­trical system was integrated with a new upgrade. This caused suc­cessive boiler feed disruptions.

“Thereafter, issues with a major gear-box resulted in an extended stop in order to replace the unit.

“These have since been rectified and the mill operations are con­solidating.”

Mr Clark said it should be noted that the number of Lautoka Mill stoppages this year were 10 per cent lower than the same period last season.

“Operationally, FSC is on an up­ward trajectory having recorded very good improvements in me­chanical efficiency last season.

Reduction in mill breakdowns

“Breakdowns in our three mills reduced last year by some 20 per­cent and our sugar recoveries na­tionally improved from over 10 to 9.1 tonnes of cane per tonnes of sugar (TCTS) and we expect fur­ther improvements in 2018.

“Lautoka Mill was our best per­forming in 2017 with a 30 per cent reduction in breakdown, and achieving a TCTS for the season of 8.4, a 16 per cent improvement year on year.

He said in regards to the need for mill readiness audits before start up in the season, there is no reference or requirement for this contained in the Sugar Industry Master Award, and this would be most unusual in his sugar indus­try experience. Some farmers had queried why the mills were not tested before crushing began.

“It is normal to fine tune and com­mission sugar mills equipment on the run.

“Planning is the key activity and, in this regard, FSC has sought widespread external input into both our operational and upgrade needs.

Last year, he said a comprehen­sive review of all FSC factories was undertaken by respected In­dian Consultants – Avant Garde Sugar Engineers and Consultants, together with FSC Engineers.

“The FSC mill laboratories were also subjected to a technical audit by a team from Vasantdada Insti­tute from India.

“These produced a clear strategy for upgrades and equipment re­placement which is currently be­ing followed.

“FSC also involved experts from Belgium in the mill upgrading and on the Lautoka diffuser (the original manufacturers), EPCE Consultants from Australia on electrical upgrades and Peter Brotherhood from the UK in re­gard to our turbo generator work.

“Caterpillar Australia has also supplied standby generators to all three factories, and ABB Australia consulted on their integration into the factories.

“The Lautoka Mill is now con­tinuously crushing close to 800 tonnes of cane per shift and with more consolidation, the crushing rate will improve further.”

Mr Clark said the LautokaMill could crush the maximum of 5000 tonnes a day but that would hap­pen once the mill was stabilised.

“The Lautoka Mill is over 100-years-old, but there have been strategic investments in the re­cent years to improve mill perfor­mance.

“FSC is committed to continue with this as this is a long-term investment to replace redundant equipment and technology to make it operate more efficiently for our requirements.

“A distinction needs to be made between maintenance and capital projects work. The adequacy of our maintenance will be measured against the consolidation of our operations.

“Our major project and equip­ment upgrades at Lautoka Mill are operating to expectations and will be a worthwhile investment for the future.”

Due to the impact on harvesting operations of mill stoppages at Lautoka, commencing from today, FSC Field staff will be contacting cane farmers to assess the impact on their harvesting status.

FSC is grateful to the Lorry As­sociations, driver and cane farm­ers for their understanding and support and have been providing meals and refreshment to the driv­ers during the stoppages.

Feedback: charles.chambers@fijisun.com.fj

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