In the fall of 2019 beginning of 2020 Meridian brick asked SABO S.A. to visit their plant in Elgin Texas and propose solutions for the renovation of their kiln. The kiln, a casing kiln which was made in the mid-90s, was having problems with extreme temperatures passing over the roof, pieces were falling and were coming out with the kiln cars. They have tried several times to repair it but at this moment it was far beyond repair.
The situation became critical very fast in a period that sales were rising in contrast with the COVID pandemic. So, it was clear that what it was needed to be done, should be done as soon as possible, and should be done as fast as possible.
SABO came up with a plan to replace the whole kiln roof with a new hanging roof and for this job chose one of their long-established partners, the German refractory company Refratechnik, which is well known for their quality.
The plan was ambitious and had to be executed accurately to ensure the reconstruction in the minimum possible time.
The project included:
Dismantling of the burners
Dismantling of the ducts
Dismantling of the old roof
Installation of new metallic supports to hang the new roof.
Installation of new roof refractories
Modifications of the old burners with longer tubes
Re-installation of the ducting
Heating of the renovated kiln
As already mentioned, this project had to be done in a very tight schedule of just 9 weeks.
1st week - all dismantling was done and organized for the final stage of re-installation, start of metallic structure installation
4th week - 50% of the roof already installed
6th week - 95% of the roof already installed
9th week - 100% of the roof was completed and all ducts and burners already re-installed, heating of the kiln started.
In the meantime, Meridian Brick decided to take advantage of this stop of their production and asked SABO to replace the old cutting line, setter and dehacking equipment.
A new push-through cutter was installed and for the setting of the kiln cars two new FANUC robots were used, utilizing grippers with servomotors to create the necessary gaps between bricks to ensure the best possible firing quality.
SABO had to use the same space and the same extruder position and setting position of the kiln car. To ensure a better drying of the coloring and texturing of the bricks the solution was designed in such a way that the bricks would arrive at the cutter after the maximum possible time. In that way the drying of these materials ensured fewer sticking bricks after the setter and after the firing as well. To further assist with the sticking problem and to help having more bricks inside the kiln, the loading of the kiln cars changed as well. As we all understand, the result achieved was less down time at the dehacker when picking up brick.
The old grippers of the dehacker were also time to go and in their place, SABO installed two robots for unloading the kiln cars with grippers that would dehack the new loaded patterns. The two chain programming benches were replaced by programming benches using belts and pushers so that the working area of the personnel interacting with the movement of the bricks is safer.
Finally, we must mention that SABO gives special attention to safety, and this project can be an example for the how a “safe project” should be. Integrated safety PLCs, light curtains, fences, multiple key special procedures ensure that no area is accessible by staff while the equipment are running.
And all the above had to be installed in the same time period of 9 weeks. Multiple groups of SABO technicians were working in parallel under difficult conditions of a heavy winter combined with the COVID pandemic. Congratulations to SABO team and a big thank you to Meridian Brick for their assistance and confidence.