What is Vassiliko?
Vassiliko Cement is the leading cement manufacturer in Cyprus. The company uses state-of-the-art equipment and processes to create an efficient system that not only supports Cyprus, but also neighboring countries.
Not many people know the details of a cement company, including myself. Because of this, I was not very eager to visit this company compared to others. Then I saw the factory up close, and my mindset did a full 180. I saw pipes and wires and storage containers and workers with vests. Why were there ladders going to the top of the factory? Did people really climb all the way up there? What is that slide that goes all the way to the port? These were only a few questions that popped into my head.
Brief Explanation of the Process
Factories are very intimidating. There are so many visible parts that you cannot possibly understand what is happening just by looking at it. But, when dumbing it down, the process is quite simple. Everybody knows the process of an assembly line (thanks Henry Ford). A cement factory (and other factories) are not much different. Instead of having people to do the next job, you have a machine. That’s it!
Specifically, Vassiliko cement takes raw materials, processes them into clinker, which looks like a bunch of rocks. This clinker is then put into a heating chamber which through many chemical reactions turns into cement. Now all of these tons of cement need to be transported. We will need thousands of people to do this, right? No, all we need is gravity, the most environmentally friendly and abundant form of energy (well technically gravity isn’t energy, but we can use it as such). Transportation of the cement to the port is simply genius: it uses a slide. Just like the slide at a water park, the cement is sent from a higher altitude all the way down to the vessels at the ports, at a much lower altitude. Then the cement is distributed where need be.
Despite the fully automated factory, error is still inevitable. Off of the factory grounds is a room with dozens of monitors. There were about six workers, intently observing these monitors. They showed a mapped outline of the factory as well as cameras inside the heat chambers. These workers were engineers who understand every detail of the factory, and spend the day monitoring the process. If something goes wrong, they know exactly how to fix it.
Vassiliko, Industral Engineering, and the Supply Chain
Due to the fact that I am studying Industrial Engineering (IE), I find it very beneficial to reflect by relating my experience to my studies. A common job for Industrial Engineers is to plan a facility, for example, Vassiliko Cement. Not only the factory must be planned, but the communications with workers, offices, employee safety, and environmental sustainability must also be considered. Even if the facility “works”, or in other words, successfully manufactures a product, the IE must still optimize the facility. Every single improvement will add up to save money and time.
The focus of our venture is the supply chain. For the supply chain of cement, Vassiliko covers every part besides the primary provider (raw materials) and end consumer (companies that sell their cement). Due to the centralization of Vassiliko, a lot of money is saved. They do not have to pay other companies for thier services. For example, Vassiliko packages cement themselves. Other companies must pay another company to take their cement and package it with their logo and such. Therefore, as a nationally monopolized industry, it is vastly efficient to have independence when it comes to parts of the supply chain