Supplying Black Galaxy granite to a worldwide market
August 1, 2010
Nearly 20 years ago, Krishna Sai Granites (KSG) Group was founded by Venkateswara Rao Sidda, who worked diligently to develop numerous quarries - particularly several for Black Galaxy granite. Today, the company, which is based in Andhra Pradesh, South India, has grown to include more than 10 quarries, a state-of-the-art fabrication facility and 1,400 employees.
“The firm was started in a small traditional family business profile, and gradually expanded its wings in quarrying, processing and making steps towards the execution of projects globally,” explained Bharat Sidda, Executive Director of KSG Group. “Today, KSG Group is known as the number one producer, processor and exporter of Black Galaxy granite.”
After starting KSG Group in 1992, Venkateswara Rao Sidda received extended support from Hanumantha Rao Sidda, who is a fellow member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India and has vast experience in the granite industry. “He has rich and varied experience in the areas of capital market, finance and general management,” said Sidda. “He is well exposed to and familiar with international business. He believed raw material was the strength of the industry. After consolidating the quarrying activities, KSG went forward into processing slabs under my close surveillance. I support the various key functions related to innovations, communication and client relationship.”
The quarriesCurrently, KSG Group owns about six Black Galaxy quarries that are located in the village of Chimakurthy, which is approximately 11 miles from Ongole - a small town that sits at Chennai National Highway No. 5. The closest airport is Vijayawada, which is about 105 miles away. Among the additional granite quarries owned and operated by KSG Group are: Black Pearl in Gurijepalli (V/M), Steel Grey in Ballikurava (V/M), S.K. Blue in Dontha (V/M) Srikakulam, Miracle White in Sithampeta (V) Srikakulam and Tan Brown in Karimnagar, which will be operational in a month or two with 400 to 500 cubic meters per month.
“Being one of the early promoters of Galaxy, and now being the biggest source with unparalleled excavation of granite in the region, KSG prioritized in sticking to high-end and latest technologies available, and always ensured to match the client requirements by catering to the best-quality blocks,” said Sidda. In the quarries, the company utilizes an array of equipment, including 30 excavators from Hitachi, L & T and Caterpillar; five 110 Commando drillers, three 120 Commando drillers and two Rangers - all from Tamrock (Sandvik Mining); 25 Chicago Pneumatic compressors and 10 Atlas Capco compressors; 25 dump trucks; four derricks; 10 cranes; and 28 trailers for transporting blocks.
In total, KSG produces approximately 45,000 cubic meters of rough material annually.
The processing plantsThe company maintains two processing plants only 4 miles away from its Black Galaxy sites. A total of 250 workers are employed at the stone-processing facilities.
“After achieving its peak in quarrying, which was the primary focus, KSG started to widen its vision, and it started to focus on reaching the international markets to provide cut-to-size [products] and small slabs,” said Sidda.
To execute this idea, ‘Unit 1’ was established in 2004 with 12 block cutters in place to process smaller blocks. “This Unit was the first of its kind in the Ongole region - with a production capacity of 120,00 square meters (1.3 million square feet) of smaller slabs annually,” said Sidda. “It paved footsteps to cater to the overseas requirements of the Middle East, Europe and partially to the U.S.”
The increased requirements in the world market, and the necessity to deliver quality slabs, led KSG to establish “Unit 2” - with state-of-the-art machinery from Breton, Gaspari Menotti, Simec and GMM - in 2009. “The strategic geographical location of our plant enhances proximity and direct access to our quarries,” said Sidda. “The port is just 270 kilometers [168 miles] away.”
For slab production, the process begins by trimming the blocks with two Bideseimpianti wire saws from Italy. “They trim the blocks so as to obtain the perfect size slabs,” said Sidda. “Only high-quality diamond wire is used in order to get regular trimming. All the block trimmings are carefully inspected by KSG’s highly experienced technicians.”
After trimming, the blocks are processed in a specialized plant housing four Gaspari Menotti Jumbo 480 series gangsaws. “They are the best slab-cutting machines in the world,” said Sidda. “They are capable of cutting slabs in thicknesses of 20, 30 and 40 mm.” With four gangsaws, KSG has the capacity to produce a total of 300,000 square meters (3.2 million square feet) of granite slabs annually, the company reports.
Once the blocks are processed into raw slabs, they move to the slab-production line, where a fully automated and computerized 22-head KG-3000 Ultrex polishing machine from Breton S.p.A. of Italy plays an important role in the production process. “Before polishing the sides, the edges are trimmed for perfect finishing,” explained Sidda, who added that tooling is supplied by Nicolai Diamant and Abrasivi Metallici. He added that the use of this tooling has provided the company with “outstanding results” in the final product.
For resin-treated material, KSG operates a fully automatic resin line from Simec S.p.A. of Italy, which has two large-scale driers and holds a combined 40 slabs at one time. The company uses epoxies from Tenax of Italy on the slabs. During the process, the slabs are first preheated in one of the drying units, then the resin is applied, and a second drier allows for optimal curing of the resin.
A GMM Eura automatic bridge sawing machine is also in place at the plant for cut-to-size work and other applications. “This machine enables KSG to make accurate cuts in the slabs as per the specification,” said Sidda.
“The growth percentage of the sales in the U.S., Europe and Middle East brought us to the extent of establishing one more processing plant, “Unit 3,” which will be operational in the coming year,” Sidda went on to say. “It will not only cater to the requirements for slabs, but also tiles, project execution and even cut-to-size requirements.”
Packaging PracticesAccording to Sidda, KSG places a special emphasis on quality packing and effective shipping. “Crates and pallets are made of expensive and quality wood,” he said. “Wood packing materials (WPM) are as per USDA & ISO standards. The WPM is marked with an IPPC logo and ISO country code. This authorizes and authenticates the fumigation proceeds to International Standards.”
KSG also reports that it is equipped to load four containers at any single point in time. “We can load both closed-top and open-top 20-foot containers,” said Sidda. “Packaging experts with the latest ‘C’ clamps with mechanized nailing guns make the packaging division stand out. Slabs are inter-packed with plastic and soft foam sheets so as to reach the customers in perfect condition. We have a record of loading eight crates in a container, and apart from pallets and crates, KSG also does A-frame loading.
In 2009, a total of 11.43% of KSG’s granite products was exported to the U.S., and the company’s presence in the market was bolstered by its investment in state-of-the-art production machinery. “This enhanced how to focus on the U.S. market, especially,” said Sidda.