Sintek’s Sustainability and Innovation Synergy

International Cement Review

Onur ATAKAY, Sintek Group/Founder Partner

ICR speaks with Sintek Group Founder Partner, Onur Atakay, about the group’s European ambitions and its expansion in North America, as well as its commitment to produce solutions for cement producers to achieve their low-carbon intentions by developing sustainable logistics solutions and tap into the circular economy.

International Cement Review: After the earthquake devastation of 2023 in Anatolia, Medcem Cement’s Mersin plant Line II project must have been a priority for Sintek Group last year. What was the scope of Sintek’s involvement in this project?

Onur Atakay: First of all, we express our condolences to those who lost their lives due to the earthquake disaster in our country, hope it does not recur. Last year, while the Medcem Cement Plant 2nd Line investment was continuing at full speed, we received the sad news of the earthquake. Mersin province is a region very close to the earthquake zone and we have multiple construction sites in this city. We immediately mobilized our personnel and machinery to assist the citizens and tried to do our best.

Our scope in the investment in which we operate as the main contractor includes; auxiliary equipment supply, civil construction, mechanical manufacturing, steel fabrication, installation and commissioning works. Despite adverse conditions, we proudly completed this significant project, the largest single-kiln cement plant in Turkey and Europe. Especially our employer Medcem, we would like to thank all parties who supported and contributed to the completion of this project.

Medcem Cement’s Line II project in Mersin became particularly important after the earthquake devastation in Anatolia, Turkey, in 2023

European operations

ICR: How will Sintek BV in The Netherlands look to expand its influence on the European market with its new presence on the continent?

OA: Sintek BV will expand its influence in the European market by focusing on sustainability, advanced technology, and a customer-first approach. They will implement investment solutions, such as projects in Portugal aimed at reducing carbon emissions and improving energy efficiency. Sintek BV leverages EU support for sustainable development and offers turnkey solutions, managing all project aspects to simplify client processes and ensure high-quality, timely completion. Additionally, Sintek BV specializes in EPC contracts, providing comprehensive solutions and meticulous management of all project components. Their customer-first philosophy assures clients that their major investments are well-managed. Their commitment to innovative, environmentally friendly technologies aligns with EU climate goals and positions them for long-term competitive advantages.

ICR: A leading European turnkey and cement equipment supplier has recently decided to sell its cement business arm in 2024. What scope exists in terms of existing and future plant maintenance and servicing contracts to be won in the European market?

As the co-founder of a Turkey-based group specializing in EPC solutions for the cement industry, I see immense potential. Our extensive experience in Africa and other regions, combined with our local presence in Europe and budget-friendly, fast assembly capabilities, gives us a competitive edge. Beyond maintenance, opportunities exist for contracts in upgrades, retrofits, and optimizations to enhance productivity, efficiency, and environmental compliance. Our turnkey EPC capabilities, bolstered by recent expansions into Europe and North America, enable us to manage complex projects seamlessly.

Aging cement plants will need modernization or replacement, presenting new EPC contracts for greenfield projects or major overhauls. Our comprehensive engineering, procurement, and construction management services, along with budget-friendly solutions, position us well in the European market. Our strong foothold in Africa, expanding global reach, and local teams’ knowledge of regional regulations and market dynamics will be invaluable in securing and executing contracts successfully across Europe.

ICR: Sintek has won an EP+C contract for one of Cimpor’s cement plants in Portugal. What is the timeline for this project and what will the plant modernisation involve?

The 18-month project at CIMPOR’s Alhandra Plant, managed by Sintek on an EP+C basis, focuses on upgrading Kiln Line 7, encompassing manufacturing, procurement, and installation activities. The Vertical Raw Mill (VRM) Process Upgrade includes implementing a new VRM, renewing material lines, installing new feeding and dosing equipment, and adding new conveyors and towers, with Sintek supplying all necessary equipment.

Additionally, the Preheater Kiln and Cooler Process Upgrade will introduce a new Preheater Tower with a Pyrorotor process, modify the existing kiln, and completely renew the cooler system. Collaboration with KHD through our employer covers engineering and main equipment, while Sintek handles the remaining tasks, aiming to enhance plant efficiency, reduce emissions, and improve overall performance.

Cimpor’s Alhandra plant will see the upgrading of its Line 7 kiln and the installation of a new VRM

ICR: How is Sintek going about trying to decarbonise its carbon footprint and has it set any targets?

OA: Sintek is dedicated to sustainability, particularly in reducing our environmental impact through innovative technologies and ambitious targets, primarily in our role within the cement industry providing EPC solutions. Our R&D company, Minerva Engineering, has developed the Pamir Mill technology which significantly lowers energy consumption during grinding, thereby reducing carbon footprints for us and the global cement industry.

Additionally, through collaborations with research institutions, technology providers, and industry stakeholders, we are able to integrate the latest sustainable practices and innovations into our projects. This synergy of sustainability and innovation not only helps us meet global environmental goals but also establishes a benchmark for industry-wide positive change.

Sustainable efforts

ICR: The transport of low-carbon raw materials and alternative fuels is growing across Europe. How strong is competition for Sintek Logistics in this business and how will it seek to gain an advantage on winning contracts?

OA: At Sintek Logistics, we are committed to developing sustainable logistics activities. Through our agreement with Oceans Integrity, we ensure 1000 tons of plastic waste are cleaned from the seas each month from Indonesia & Thailand seas. We also pay local fishermen for each kilogram of waste they collect, promoting environmental awareness. Also, we select suppliers that use sustainable technologies and invest accordingly. It means in real life we support vessel owners who use more LNG powered ships or who use Methanol powered engine motors.

To reduce our carbon footprint, we have implemented recyclable equipment and digitized all operational processes. We actively use E-Bill of Lading, E-Invoice, E-Tracking, and E-Delivery order systems. These efforts enhance our sustainability and competitive edge, helping us to creating awareness.

ICR: How does the availability of slag for slag cements (for Sintek) compare with that of fly ash for blended cement supply?

OA: The availability of slag and fly ash, byproducts of steel production and coal-fired power plants, depends on regional industrial activities. Turkey benefits from a significant presence in both industries, ensuring a stable supply of these materials, with blast furnace slag sourced from key regions and fly ash distributed widely.

In Europe, traditional sources of fly ash and slag face supply constraints due to the phase-out of coal power and the decarbonization of the steel industry.

To address these challenges, Sintek, through its R&D company Minerva Engineering, offers innovative solutions with the Pamir Mill technology. This technology reduces grinding energy and allows for a wide range of grinding fineness, achieving much finer levels than conventional tools (up to 8000, cm²/g Blaine), optimizing slag and fly ash for cement production.

By using this advanced grinding technology, we can maximize the use of available materials in Turkey and support sustainable cement production globally, enhancing efficiency, quality, and reducing the industry’s carbon footprint.

Sintek North America

ICR: In our interview last year, you announced that Sintek would be expanding its reach to North America. What presence has the company now in the USA?

OA: Since our last conversation, Sintek has established a solid presence in the USA with our first project in the Port of Houston, which is a cement grinding project for CIMSA. We are focusing our efforts on key regions such as Texas and Florida, and we have built a robust partner network across various disciplines to support our operations and growth.

Our aim is to gradually expand our footprint by securing additional projects in other strategic locations across the country. This strategic growth will enable us to bring our expertise and innovative solutions to a broader market, thereby strengthening our presence in North America.

“We belıeve that our comprehensıve approach to project executıon wıll provıde sıgnıfıcant value to our clıents, helpıng them achıeve theır operatıonal and sustaınabılıty goals.”

ICR: The services you’ll be offering in the US include plant operation and effective management. How will the company be using any AI and enhanced digitalisation in its ability to offer savings to customers?

OA: Sintek is committed to integrating advanced AI technologies and digital solutions to optimize plant operations and management. By utilizing AI-driven data analytics, we aim to enhance energy efficiency, reduce operational costs, and increase productivity. These technologies will help us monitor and adjust plant operations in real-time, ensuring optimal performance and significant cost savings for our clients.

We are in touch with leading vendors and following new technologies from equipment manufacturers to incorporate AI capabilities into our projects, furthering our digital transformation efforts. This proactive approach allows us to stay at the forefront of technological advancements, ensuring that our clients benefit from the latest innovations. Furthermore, our commitment to continuous improvement means we are always exploring new ways to integrate AI and digital solutions to enhance our service offerings.

ICR: Last year, Sintek had won a contract to establish CIMSA’s 600,000 tpa grinding plant in the USA to be commissioned in 4Q25. How much of the equipment is currently onsite and where do you expect to be with this project in December 2024?

OA: The CIMSA project is progressing according to our planned schedule. We have completed the majority of the engineering design and obtained all necessary permits. Excavation activities are finalized, and we are currently engaged in piling work, with civil construction slated to commence shortly. The procurement process for all equipment has been completed, and the structural steel components are presently in the manufacturing phase.

We anticipate the arrival of equipment on-site beginning in August 2024, with full delivery expected by February 2025. By December 2024, we expect to have advanced significantly in the civil and structural construction phases, and to be preparing for the installation of mechanical systems. Our planning and execution strategies are in place to ensure that we meet all project milestones and deliver on our commitments. We are confident that the project will be completed on time, budget and to the highest standards.

ICR: Last year, Sintek mentioned that the Infrastructure Act and construction activity in the USA was a main pull towards establishing a North American subsidiary. How will this subsidiary promote itself in this new market?

OA: To promote Sintek North America, we are actively participating in key industry exhibitions and conferences, such as being a Platinum Sponsor for the IEEE IAS/PCA Cement Conference. Our strategy includes leveraging the opportunities presented by the Infrastructure Act to highlight how Sintek can contribute to and benefit from the modernization efforts.

We aim to demonstrate our expertise through successful project completions, building a strong reputation in the market, and establishing partnerships with local organizations and industry leaders. Additionally, we are investing in targeted marketing campaigns and digital outreach to increase our visibility and attract potential clients. Our goal is to build lasting relationships within the industry, showcasing our commitment to quality and innovation.

ICR: What type of contracts will be your main focus in the cement and construction sectors?

OA: Sintek’s main focus in the US will be on EPC contracts, as we have extensive experience in this area with over 20 successful projects in, Europe, Turkey and Africa. We are also committed to sustainable and green construction projects, aligning with global trends towards environmental responsibility.

Our goal is to differentiate ourselves by bringing our extensive international experience, strong procurement capabilities, and agile project management style to the US market, ensuring high-quality and efficient project delivery. We believe that our comprehensive approach to project execution will provide significant value to our clients, helping them achieve their operational and sustainability goals.

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