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Tuesday, 05 April 2016 12:05

Corobrik installs quality-enhancing robotic technology at Lawley factory

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Improved productivity, environmental efficiency, flexibility and enhanced manufacture quality are some of the massive benefits associated with Corobrik’s new robotic technology at its Lawley Factory.

Following the introduction of this unique robotics’ system at its Rietvlei factory, Corobrik installed the uniquely manufactured setting system at its Lawley Factory in October last year.

“This robotics’ system had to be specially designed for the Lawley factory because of its distinctive manufacturing specifics, making this one-of-a-kind setting technology in the industry,” explained David Matlou, Corobrik Manufacturing Director. “By installing this innovative technology, Corobrik will achieve incremental reductions in energy consumption, thereby lowering greenhouse gases, while also giving our customers even better products.”

He said that the improvements made by the robotics serve to build on the clay bricks’ already energy efficient nature. Burnt clay bricks have a very low embodied energy and the new system further decreases energy demand in the production of each brick. Clay brick walls, which are particularly effective in South Africa’s extreme climate, absorb heat during the day and slowly release it during the night, thereby delaying heat transfer and reducing the need for artificial climate control.

The robotics will allow flexibility in production as it can run out of Eskom peak tariff hours, lowering the demand on the energy grid.  

The consistent gaps in the setting pattern achieved by the robotics allow for easy access of heat during the drying and firing processes which optimises the amount of energy required for brick production.

Improved quality

Matlou explained that product quality is significantly improved owing to the precision handling of 'green' products by the robots which eliminates handling damage resulting from manual setting.

“This minimises defects which means fewer rejects and a better quality, uniform, end product for our customers,” he said.

The engineering team, led by Daniele Torricelli, as well as the factory management team led by Andreas Ntseki, delivered the project on time and within the R22 million budget.

The robotics’ highly technical system demands an extremely high level of skill to ensure a smooth operation. To this end, Corobrik selected six existing staff members who then underwent extensive training to run the machine.

“Because this is essentially a one-of-a-kind model, we had to ensure the staff operating the system knew it from end-to-end,” said Matlou. “Their training has certainly paid off and the system has been operating successfully from the start.”

He added that, because Corobrik is dedicated to promoting its staff and creating an environment of sustainablity, the robotics’ system had meant no job losses as all staff have been redeployed to other positions within Lawley factory.   

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Clay bricks and paving bricks have been produced by Corobrik in South Africa for more than 100 years, making it the sub-continent’s foremost masonry and paving design company.

Corobrik supplies local and international clientele, bringing brick designs to life all over the world. An extensive range of face bricks,  pavers and landscaping products in a variety of shades and textures, enables architects to create a myriad of stylish brick and paving designs.

Product development, coordinated through Corobrik’s ISO-IEC 17025 accredited central laboratory, aims for continuous enhancement of quality and performance in line with changing design trends and innovative new applications.

Corobrik has regional offices across South Africa and a national network of accredited dealers.

Production facilities operate in accordance with international best practice and quality assurance, ensuring that all products comply with industry standards and the classification against which they are manufactured and sold.

Five Corobrik factories have ISO 9001:2000 accreditation; another 10 are working towards this goal. All adhere to the Minerals and Mine, Health and Safety Acts and manufacturing processes are based on sound environmental practices.

Corobrik is committed to BEE and the upliftment and economic empowerment of previously disadvantaged communities.

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