Indian sugar industry, second largest agro-based processing industry after the cotton textiles industry in country, has a lion\’s share in accelerating industrialization process and bringing socio-economic changes in under developed rural areas. It covers around 7.5% of total rural population and provides employment to 5 lakh rural people. About 4.5 crore farmers are engaged in sugarcane cultivation in India. Sugar mills (cooperative, private, and public) have been instrumental in initiating a number of entrepreneurial activities in rural India.

Sugar is one of the oldest commodities in the world and traces its origin in 4th century AD in India and China. In those days sugar was manufactured only from sugarcane. But both countries lost their initiatives to the European, American and Oceanic countries, as the eighteenth century witnessed the development of new technology to manufacture sugar from sugar beet. However, India is presently a dominant player in the global sugar industry along with Brazil in terms of production. Given the growing sugar production and the structural changes witnessed in Indian sugar industry, India is all set continue its domination at the global level.

Indian sugar industry is highly fragmented with organized and unorganized players. The unorganized players mainly produce Gur and Khandari, the less refined forms of sugar. The government had a controlling grip over the industry, which has slowly yet steadily given way to liberalization. The production of sugarcane is cyclical in nature. Hence the sugar production is also cyclical as it depends on the sugarcane production in the country.

Key Characteristics of Sugar industry:
• Capital intensive
• Government regulated
• Seasonal fluctuation in the industry(demand increases during festive season)
• Raw materials constitute major cost
• No proper substitutes
Key success factors (key performance indicators)
• Capital utilization
• Optimum utilization of by-products for additional revenue
• Captive power generation

• Payments to farmers within the 14 days of supply of sugarcane (as specified by the government),to gain confidence of suppliers(farmers).

Role of Automation:

The Indian sugar industry can be a global leader provided it comes out of the vicious cycle of shortage and surplus of sugarcane, lower sugarcane yield, lower sugar recovery, ever increasing production costs and mounting losses. It needs quality management at all levels of activity to enhance productivity and production.

The major issues:

  • Perishable raw material
  • Heat sensitive productor
  • Relevance of fuel & energy savings
  • Impact of operating parameters on sugar recovery & quality which includes ph factor & temperature

Implementation of automation systems lead to –

  • Capacity Optimisation
  • Improved Plant Efficiencies
  • Reduce Energy Costs
  • Improve Product Quality
  • Reduce Maintenance Costs