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Industrial Visit to Paradeep Phosphates Ltd

Date:-28th October  2016
Batch:- B.tech (Mechanical) 2015-19
Written by: Ram Dheeraj P (with input from batch mates)

It was evening of October 25 2016. All my fellow batch mates were in really bright mood. With the next sun-rise, we all will be visiting Paradeep Phosphates Limited, an industry located few hundred km away from our institute. Added to our excitement is the fact that it will be our first industrial visit since we joined at IIT Bhubaneswar in 2015. Some of us were really excited and started looking for more information about the company on Google. For most of us, it was our first experience looking at the manufacturing processes live; earlier, we had seen those only on television.
The interesting part of the trip was an exciting 3 hours bus journey. We all had a quick breakfast and left our institute at 8:15 A.M. After travelling through the busy streets of Bhubaneswar and Cuttack, the bus finally arrived at Paradeep port town at 11:00 A.M. Foul smell of fish welcomed us to the town while we all were astonished by the presence of industrial estates in all directions. We had fun placing bets as to which one was PPL. Later, we came to know that two of them belonged to IFFCO and Essar steel.

Our bus took a final diversion off the main road only to be welcomed by a scenic forest view. The bustling port road busy with trucks were now replaced by a picturesque canopy-covered road with a sign board that read
“Welcome to Paradeep Phosphates Limited.”

Our first collective impression was a surprise. How can a chemical fertilizer plant, stereotypically associated with a lot of pollution, could exist amidst so much greenery around? The question lingered on all our minds until the site of mesmerizingly large and clear pond surrounded by lush green trees break our thoughts.

As we neared the entrance, we were asked to deposit our cell phones at the security gate who then handed over hardhats to each one of us. Accompanied by Dr. Akhilesh Barve and Dr. Panduranga, we were first directed to the auditorium where we were served with welcome refreshments. Seeing that our eagerness could not be contained any longer, a personnel from the plant gave us a tour explaining various structures in the plant and how they function.

The plant produces Di-Ammonium Phosphate (DAP) and other Nitrogenous fertilisers as their main product. For this process, various raw materials such as Sulphur, Phosphorous, Ammonia and Sulphuric acid have to be imported from Morocco, Egypt, UAE, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and other countries. The process of carrying the raw materials from port to plant is simplified by ingenious way; fluids like sulphuric acid are carried by an elevated pipeline that runs from the port to the factory over a distance of 3 km. These pipelines are directly connected to voluminous storage tanks. Solid substances are carried by similar elevated systems that differentiate into silos for different solid products.

The raw materials are enterprisingly assembled and are put through various exothermic reactions to produce the necessary compounds such as MAP (Mono Ammonium Phosphate) and DAP. These compounds are stored in the product silo from where they are collected, bagged and shipped off.

The power of automation can be easily witnessed by visiting the bagging area. At the outset, it looks like a relatively simple mechanism. Fertilizers were stored overhead and being fed in calculated intervals into bags. The entire process was supervised by skilled workers who are well aware of timing to a great accuracy. The technology packs fertilizer in thousands of bags which are then directed by conveyor belts to their respective destinations.

What was most appealing to all of us was the layout of the entire plant. The plant itself was well connected to sea and roadways. Railways led into and out of the plant, carrying fertilisers. The silos and the production areas are strategically placed to minimize production time and cost of production. At the end, even the by-products are put to better use. The steam which is generated by exothermic reaction is used to produce power. Other by-products such as gypsum are also commercially sold.

After the plant visit was over, meals inside the plant canteen was pre-arranged for us. Though it was tasteless meal, we enjoyed it nevertheless. While we were having food, we noticed posters all around the canteen seeking new ideas for manufacturing and going ‘green’. On almost every mega structures of the plant such as cooling towers, storage tanks and all the walls, there were billboards and sign posts emphasising safety. The message was passed across through thought provoking quotes and pictures. After a satiating meal, we gathered at an air-conditioned lecture hall which was usually used as classroom for trainees. We met Dr. Sridhar Iyer, who is in charge of training the new recruits and also for maintenance of PPL Township.

Though the heavy food made us feeling sleepy, Dr. Iyer through his interesting talk made sure that nobody shut their eyes. He delivered an interesting lecture on various processes of the plant including the chemical reactions and the distribution of raw materials to each production house. Later, he shared his views on management, especially getting work done from subordinates. I must say that his talk was inspiring. To put it in his own words, “Work hard, play hard” was his motto. His presentation ended with a few pictures of exotic species of migratory birds that visit PPL Township each year.

Around 4 P.M, we left Paradeep town and headed towards our campus located at the foothills of serene Barunei hills. We stopped briefly on the way for a snack break and set off again. By then we were too tired, but still engaged ourselves to entertainment that includes singing and cracking jokes. When we reached Cuttack, the time was around 6:30 P.M. Weekend had already begun. Roads were ablaze with lights and people everywhere; some thronging inside temples, some were shopping while others were having fun after a monotonous week of exertion and stress.

Finally, when we reached our campus, we all had only one thought:

“What a beautiful day it was!”