“The global change in environment and economy is now forcing us to look at sustainable development. Unless road-building professionals don’t go green, they will not be able to survive. We are excited to find that more and more professional road building companies are showing deep interest in producing high content RAP, warm mix, low energy mixes, specification mixes, cold mixes etc,” says Blesson Varghese, Managing Director, Marini India. In an exclusive chat with EQUIPMENT INDIA, he details the trends in hot-mix technology and stresses the importance of going green. Excerpts from the interview. Marini has a rich experience in asphalt plants in India. Could you tell us how the hot-mix technology has evolved over a decade? Hot-mix technology in India hasn’t moved much over the past decade, except the move from traditional drum-mix plants to batch-type plants for large NHAI projects. This marked the genesis of modern road construction activities in India. We in India are very conformists; hence, unless we aren’t asked to move by law, a change of mindset is very difficult. The speed that we have achieved is quite rapid, and the pressure to construct new roads is very high. Hence, execution has become very important.Hot mix per se hasn’t seen a great amount of change when compared to the technologies which have been employed to produce it. Globally speaking, the past decade saw amazing developments in the hot-mix production technology. Economic crisis and environmental concerns are forcing road contractors to look at hot- mix production in a completely new way. Fayat Group’s focus has been sustainable development, which has resulted in us developing products and technologies, which can recycle 75-80 per cent of reclaimed asphalt pavements, produce hot-mix with low impact and reduced carbon footprints up to 30 per cent. Green mixes and low carbon emitting technologies have gained acceptance and applause worldwide for their massive savings in carbon emission and fuel savings.The global change in environment and economy is however now forcing us to look at sustainable development. It is imperative that road-building professionals go green, or else they will not be able to survive. We are excited to find that more professional road-building companies are showing deep interest in producing high content RAP, warm-mix, low-energy mixes, specification mixes, cold mixes, etc. BOT projects have opened new doors to test globally proven technologies that benefit the producer, the user economically as well as environmentally. The use of alternative fuels, mix enhancing additives and sustainable practices are being welcomed and sought. We are convinced that the next decade of road construction activity in India will usher in the exodus from traditional methods to sustainable practices.To what extent have we shifted towards drum-type mixing from the batch-type? And what do you think the major factors bringing in the change are? India still is predominantly a drum- mixing-based, asphalt producing market. India will have to move towards batch-type mix production as aggregates processing is still a big challenge in our widely diverse terrain. Although batch plants cannot correct the aggregates, they offer higher quality control, due to its screening and gradation post drying, compared to drum- mix plants. This was the main reason why batch plants were made mandatory by NHAI on large projects.Pollution control is almost non-existent on drum plants in India. Wet scrubbers have become outdated in most countries decades ago. The drum plant technology in India will have to undergo massive refinement to be able to use bag house type filters and deliver emission to the ever raising standards. Hence, with the present scenario, the only option is to move towards batch plant technology, which will allow us to produce asphalt mix with lesser impact on the environment.RAP processing and other advanced mix production is quite easy on batch plants. All these factors are pushing discerning road professionals to move towards batch mixing technology.What are the present technological trends in this segment and also tell us about the contribution Marini has made? Being present at each level of road construction activity has given us a unique perspective and a comprehensive understanding of the road-building activity. As a world leader, we shoulder great responsibility in defining the course and nature of the asphalt road construction industry. Our investment into critical research is clearly visible in the astounding track record of bringing out some of industry’s finest and highly acclaimed technologies.Our customers are our focus as we are committed to deliver solutions for the challenges they face. Our focus is not simply offering newer technologies but bringing value to our customers. We believe that technology isn’t beneficial unless it reduces the costs for our customer and impact on the environment. What are your views on the existing codes and specs with regard to recycling, particularly the use of RAP? Marini plants can very easily achieve beyond the existing norms and specifications laid by the ministry. We offer in depth training and knowledge sharing with our customers. This, together with a plant capable to produce RAP, we believe that using RAP with Marini plants could be as simple as get-set-go.It is too early to talk about any latest technology of drum mixing plants in India, as there are none existing. Processing RAP in drum mixing plants is surely a big challenge. Especially when we know that the quality of RAP being gathered is from low-tech drum plants. Although it sounds simple and equipment manufacturers in order to push technology try to make it sound simple, the story would be totally different at the job site and would be full of surprises.How environment-friendly are the plants in terms of fuel/power consumption and fewer pollutants? Our plants consume around 25 per cent lesser fuel. All existing brands in India brag about meeting high environmental standards, however reality is quite distant. It is quite simplistic to think that air pollutants mean only dust emission, asphalt plants emit various other pollutants which are hazardous and carcinogenic in nature. I would like to give the case at New Delhi as a good example, while all other existing brands in India had to move out; Marini has consistently produced over a million tonnes of environmentally friendly asphalt mix, continuously conforming to the strict standards laid by CPCB. TECHNOLOGICAL STRENGTH•High content recycling systems which are able to process RAP up to 70 per cent and at times up to 80 per cent.•Warm-mix and low-energy mix production technologies, which have been highly acclaimed to reduce up to 30 per cent of carbon emission. •Our products reflect the state-of-the-art combustion technology, which have recorded to save 20-25 per cent of fuel consumption and an equal amount of reduction of carbon emission. •We continue to raise industry benchmarks by constantly refining our burners and bag filter systems. Our burners are already geared to even use recycled fuels like waste oil with very clean emissions. •Waste heat recovery systems on our asphalt plants supplied in India can save easily up to 30-40,000 litre of fuel every year. Green technology is adapted at each component level to reduce impact on the environment. A classic example is the zero civil foundation design on our plants.While with other brands having similar capacity plants, customers lose around Rs 1.5 million each time they relocate, and concrete foundations are wasted, this is not the case with Marini. •Bitumen tanks, dryer drum and heating systems on our plants are designed with superior green technology which further enhances the environment friendliness of our equipment. Our heaters save up to Rs 1.5 million of fuel each year.