Providing a Broad Spectrum of Indian Stone
August 1, 2009
Founded by P. Palanichamy in 1995, P.R.P Exports of Therkkutheru Village in the Madurai District of Tamil Nadu, India, is able to offer a diverse range of stone materials and products, which are consumed by a worldwide client base.
Before founding the company, Palanichamy first studied the size and scope of the stone industry and “spent a lot of quality time” understanding the process of products, the methods and the market. He then made the decision to invest in the most efficient modes of stoneworking, with the goal of combining “sophisticated technology and technical expertise.” He also sought to “emphasize the importance of loyalty to clients in an open, honest work environment.”
P.R.P. Exports was established as a 100% Export Oriented Unit (EOU), and it manufactures granite slabs, tiles, monuments and architectural work such as columns, cubic forms, tabletops, cladding, flooring, stair treads and other elements. Its products are available in a variety of finishes, such as polished, flamed, honed and a range of textures. A total of 50% of P.R.P.’s stone processing is slab production, and 25% is tile production. Meanwhile, 25% of production is cut-to-size architectural work.
The company’s principal markets are Europe, North America and Southeast Asia, with the North American market representing 40% of sales. Clients are importers, developers, architects and project construction contractors.
P.R.P. Exports employs a total of 1,250 people - with 900 in the quarries and 350 in the factory.
Quarrying operationsP.R.P. has a total of 65 quarries, and they are located in various districts in the state of Tamil Nadu, including Madurai, Virudhunagar, Thrichy, Karur, Pudhukottai, Salem, Erode, Dindugal, Nammakkal and Tirunelveli.
The quarries produce a full spectrum of materials, including Kashmir White, Ivory White, Kashmir Gold, Madura Gold, Golden Oak, Desert Horse, Raja Yellow, Ivory Brown, Siva Pink, Siva Gold, Colombo Juparana, Colombo Gold, Colonial Cream, Vyara Juparana, Vyara Gold, Silver Sparkle, Atlantic Yellow, Atlantic Blue, Ivory Fantasy, Lady Dream, Rose Wood, Colonial Gold and others. All of the quarry sites yield granite gangsaw-sized blocks.
In quarrying material at the P.R.P. quarry sites, the first step is the development work, which is removing the overburden and loose materials using an excavator and loaders. The loose material and debris is then dumped at a dumping yard to avoid re-handling.
After large quarry faces are exposed to a minimum area of 500 square meters (5,400 square feet) using burners, diamond wire saws and line drilling equipment, large masses of rock - measuring from 100 to 150 cubic meters - are separated from the quarry face.
The rock masses are further subdivided into gangsaw-sized blocks using line drilling equipment. According to P.R.P., a normal gangsaw size is 325 x 225 x 200 cm and the approximate volume is around 14 to 15 cubic meters.
While producing the granite blocks, the technical and quality supervisor categories them based on their quality and size and stores them for buyers’ approval. “We are able to produce any quality at any point of time to fulfill the requirements of the buyer,” stated the company.
In the past year, P.R.P. produced 44,500 cubic meters of granite blocks. A total of 17,800 cubic meters of that total were used to produce polished and finished goods that were exported to the U.S. Dimensional granite blocks and polished finished goods from the remaining 26,700 cubic meters were shipped to other markets.
Processing facilitiesP.R.P.’s factory sits on an area of over 200 acres, and features 75,000 square meters (800,000 square feet) of covered area. It is equipped with a range of state-of-the-art machinery, and the most recent investment has been a multi-unit cross-cutting system for projects. This system, which is from Pedrini of Italy, converts slabs into tiles and panels of specific sizes for architectural work. According to P.R.P., this investment has greatly expanded its cut-to-size capacity, as it can convert 440 slabs into panels and tiles per day.
Architectural stonework is also processed on three bridge saws.
For slab production, much of the machinery was also brought in from Italy. This includes 24 jumbo gangsaws, 16 stationary wire saws from Pellegrini; four 22-head slab-polishing machines from Breton; two 13-head grinding machines from Breton; two complete resin-application lines for slabs, which can process 120 slabs per hour; and a slab calibration machine from Breton.
P.R.P. reports that the sawing capacity of the gangsaws is 1,000 slabs per day, while the grinding machines, resin line and polishing machines can all process 1,200 slabs per day.
In addition to polished slabs, the company’s flaming machine can process 50 slabs per day, and it also offers bushhammered and other textured finishes.
In the area of tile production, investments over the past few years include four blockcutters, a resin-application line, a finishing line for resin-treated tiles and a finishing line for natural tiles - all from Pedrini of Italy. To ensure optimal productivity and reliability levels, the Pedrini line has been equipped with the latest generation of technology, such as gauging equipment, pre-polishing and polishing machines from Pedrini’s Supernova B065 series and continuous cross cutting/squaring machines from Pedrini’s System M750 series.
At the start of the production process, blocks are delivered to the cutting department, which features seven Pedrini Arco di Trionfo M594 cutting centers (blockcutters) that are equipped with automatic unloaders. The department is also equipped with a total of 16 block-holding carriages and a conveyor carriage.
After being processed on the M594 blockcutters, the resulting strips are automatically loaded onto a line where they receive “pre-cross cutting” to the desired modular length, followed by gauging/pre-polishing and automatic transfer on trays to the Pedrini resin line. The resin line handles the drying, pre-heating and resining of the stone, and the trays are then fed into vertical ovens for the resin polymerization. At the oven exit, an automatic unloader takes the resined strips from the trays and places them on the pallets that are directed to the finishing lines for the final steps of polishing, cross cutting, squaring, side gauging, chamfering and drying. After the final quality-control check, the finished product is then packaged for export.
In the case of products marketed as “natural” (without resin treatment), the pallets of strips from the cutting department are positioned on a second line for all finishing steps - from pre-cross cutting to packaging - after loading by an automatic loader.
Overall capacity for tile polishing is 2,000 square meters (21,500 square feet) per day.
Plans for future equipment investments at P.R.P. include waterjet cutting machines, “water stone” machines for creating yet another textured finish, profile-cutting machines and CNC contouring machines, among others.
P.R.P.’s dedication to quality has resulted in a widespread recognition among its peers. It has won the Capexil Award eight times, and it is also a three-time winner of the “Top Exporter Award in Granite and Natural Stone” from the Ministry of Commerce and Industry. It has also received awards for export performance from the Prime Minister of India, the Governor of West Bengal, the Vice President of India and the Union Minister for Shipping, among others.