New SA factory launches EKO technology

by Tania Wannenburg

A new tile factory adopted the EKO kiln, an innovative approach in recycling heat for other processes.

Ceramic Industries’ advanced new Gryphon factory is set to produce white-bodied glazed porcelain tiles in large-size formats. The company already has a reputation as an innovator in the industry and the new factory will help build on this. “We were very proud to partner with SACMI and SYSTEM, the world leaders in equipment design, when establishing Gryphon,” says CEO Lance Foxcroft.

Among the innovations adopted in the new factory are the latest generation EKO kilns. This kiln uses waste energy to pre-heat the combustion air, ensuring complete combustion to minimise gas consumption and emissions. The design also recovers waste energy to preheat spray drier combustion air, further reducing emissions. “The tiles made at Gryphon require more intensive and careful control of processes, while using higher forming pressures and firing temperatures,” says Lance. “We’re constantly looking to innovate and reduce the carbon footprint of our factories,”

To ensure consistently high quality, the latest generation Qualitron imaging machine inspects each tile electronically using three high-resolution cameras to identify visible defects and correct shading. Every tile is also put through a tough mechanical test in a dunting machine. Infrared and laser sensors monitor tile dimensions ensuring sizing and planarity meet strict specifications. The entire process is monitored through an integrated electronic Management Information System that gives quality and production information in real time.

The result is stronger, harder tiles with more scratch- and wear-resistant glaze, which Ceramic Industries believes will give customers a high-quality local alternative to Italian and Spanish imports. Gryphon’s first phase is already operational, and by the time all phases are completed, the plant is expected to produce 8.5 million square metres per year.

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