Western Kenya is home to several sugar companies among them Sony Sugar. The parastatal has been in operation since 1976 earning quite a good niche in the Kenyan sugar market as well as other regions in East Africa.
Nearly 90 percent of the cane is gotten from the local farmers while the rest is from Sony Sugar’s cane farm. Farmers transport their cane to the factory in tractors that are specially designed to allow for machinery offloading.
The clearing and weighing at Sony Sugar is one of a kind; it is fully automated. Upon arrival at the weighbridge, the tractor driver is prompted by an auto-teller to park the tractor well and alight. Farmers have special cards that they use to transact at the factory mostly at the weighbridge. The machine detects and recognizes the tractor and weighs it. The farmer who in most cases is the tractor driver places the card on a machine that reads the details out loud and records the weight of the tractor. It then prompts the farmer to proceed if the clearing is okay.
After offloading the cane, the tractor is driven on the exit weighbridge where the teller prompts the farmer on what to do. The weight of the empty tractor is weighed and details fed in the farmers’ card as well as the company server. The farmer then picks his or her card and proceeds to leave the factory.
The automated process was installed this year and the chief operator points that it was a good move as it saves time and there is no congestion at the factory. Farmers have adapted to the system that enables them to even retrieve their records via phone.
Power remains a major concern to many large scale power users in the country. Sony Sugar is no different. They have set up their own power plant that is able to produce up to four mega watts (4MW) power. The power is used to run the factory as well as some if their housing schemes.
Cane waste is used to heat up water that produces steam which runs turbines that produce electricity for the factory. The factory is eyeing to increase the power capacity to up to 22MW of which 7MW will be used to run the factory and the rest will be fed into the grid.
The CEO acknowledged that they were in liaison with the Kenya Electricity Transmission Company (KETRACO) to set up grid in the area to allow for Sony sugar to export their excess power to the grid.
They also have a 1500kv generator that ensures that the factory is running even in the case of a power outage.
Other than increasing their power production, Sony Sugar plans to optimize their operation in the factory; get into carbon production as well as alcohol production.
Source: Project Golden Files