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INSIDE A BRICK FACTORY
By Usman Balarabe Aliyu
How to Make Red Burnt Bricks First Published 2012 Copyright © Usman Balarabe Aliyu 2012
All rights reserved. Except for use in any review, the reproduction in any medium of this booklet, in whole or in part, is prohibited without the prior written permission of the publisher.
Printed and Published by: Usana Publishing Company Limited, Usana Complex, 39/41 Broadcasting Road, P.O. Box 1584 Minna –Nigeria E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
HOW TO MAKE RED BURNT BRICKS
INSIDE A BRICK FACTORY
By Usman Balarabe Aliyu
How - to Series – 2 Usana Complex Minna: 2000
The author lived thus; Usman Aliyu was born of Aliyu Mu'azu, Sarkin Yakin Minna, and a fairly quiet lady, Amina Usa, on Wednesday June 17, 1953 in Minna, Niger State. His Academic quest ran thus: Elementary Education, Minna and Sokoto: 1960 - 66 Secondary Education, Birnin Kebbi: 1967-71 Higher School Certificate (HSC): 1972 -73, Sokoto Bachelor’s Degree (BA), (ABU) Kano: 1974 -77 Post Graduate Diploma (PGD) in 1982, (STP) London. His other engagements were: Co-operatives, Abuja until June, 1972. National Youth Service (NYSC) 1977-78, Lagos. Employment with (NTA) from 1978-84, Minna. Film Production, Usana Complex Minna 1984-96. Bricks Manufacture, 1997-2006, Minna and Funtua. His authorial endeavour: Gone missing Eye for Order A Widow’s Dew Beyond Guilt Retailing Power The Children of the Republic Loners’ Flash Usman Aliyu was a family man with children.
At death, his epitaph was; Allow me cry, God, for those who can’t cry Make me be heard for those who can’t be Let me die free, Let me not live in chains. I thank you, God, for allowing me be All that I had wanted to be
So pondered thus: In the absence of any vision, Witness the birth of selfishness Watch as the world suffers; They grow big businesses They build big machines To lay down the multitudes Governments turned insolvent Populace perpetually indebted The money houses full to brim While the world over suffers
Dedicated thus; To Ma’idah
PREAMBLE One day, I overheard a trio arguing among themselves on that curious red block, generally called the red brick. One of them said, “It was coloured”. He was emphatic. The other countered, “it was mixed with imported chemicals”. He too was adamant. The third was hesitant, but, he declared, finally, “it was fired with chemicals”. I nearly busted into laughter, but, I restrained myself. I realized that though brick-making was one of my preoccupations, there was ignorance among the generality of people about red bricks. The aim of this write-up is to enlighten those interested on the nature of brick-making. I have had the rare opportunity of not being an engineer, yet called upon to get factories going again. Thus, I was not taken a back when a small girl of nine, just after going round a brick factory on an excursion visit, asked, “Sir, what, what” she was quite shy, “what is your, your position?” I lowered myself to her level and said, “I am here to bring machines back to life, to make bricks.” I had always wanted “to humanize machines and to mechanize humans, to make them meet have way.” With this concept, I had tried to reduce the intricacy of the modern technology to an understandable simple pattern to the unsophisticated labour force working under me. I hope this small booklet will do the same to the interesting public. Usman Aliyu
THE CLAY PRODUCTS There is variety of clay products, ranging from building blocks to decorative pieces, in the market. The common thread among them is that they are moulded, shaped and burned to give them a distinct red colour; that is their differentiating personality. How the red bricks are manufactured
1.0 THE CLAY DEPOSIT For a start, you need to have a large amount of clay deposit handy. This will remove the fear of its immediate exhaustion. The clay must also be good and suitable for brick making. There is the need also to know its natural layout within the quarry area. There are two types of this clay with varying plasticity. You must work out how best to obtain the most effective mix ratio in order to achieve a smooth and productive exploitation of the clay deposits.
2.0 CLAY EXCAVATION You need to have some earth-moving machinery to dig out and retrieve the raw material from the quarry to the factory site. It can, of course, be done manually, but at the peril of time. This activity is best done before the advent of the rains; otherwise, the machines will get stuck in the mud! The earth-moving machinery You will need a bulldozer to uproot trees and any hindering rock outcrops within the site. It also scrapes up and gathers the clay material into heaps, for ease of evacuation.
Pail Loader Another useful piece of equipment is the pail loader which is used to load the clay into tipping trucks.
Excavator An excavating machine could serve as a digger of the clay and a means of loading it directly into the tipping trucks; thus doing the work of both the bulldozer and a pail loader. You need to ensure that both the engine and the hydraulic pump systems are good to get the bucket functioning.
3.0 CLAY STORAGE YARD The Stockpile Provision must be made for a large Clay-stockyard close to the factory. This must be sufficient enough to hold all the tonnage of clay required for production throughout the rainy season when the clay-pit might not be easily accessible. ½- Tone Pail Loader This machine is assigned to the storage yard for pushing clay into the box feeders. In its absence, you will have to engage hundreds of men with wheelbarrows to do its job!
4.0 CLAY PREPARATION- GREENBRICK This area is the backbone of the factory. Whatever productive activity is to occur depends on the ensured performance of the preparation area. The Box Feeders The Box-feeders are large open buckets which are constantly filled with dried clay from the stockpile, using a pail loader or a dumper, during the brick making operation.
Conveyor 1 A set of conveyor belts or slats are usually mounted to link the box-feeders with the clay crushing machine. You may have as many conveyor arrangements, depending on the distance between the box-feeders and the primary crushing rollers, and the angles of their placement. The Crusher The function of this machine, the crusher, is to break the rough and irregular granular clay into smaller aggregates. You must ensure that it is constantly cleaned and well lubricated.
Conveyor 2 You will have another conveyor installed to link the crushing machine to the first mill. This is your means of constantly transporting the material at a regular dosage.
Rough Roller Mill 1 The Rough Roller Mill is designed to reduce the crushed clay into much smaller and manageable pieces. There is an attachment of a small grinder meant to level the surfaces of the rollers on a regular basis. 10
Conveyor 3 This conveyor delivers the milled clay to the first mixer. Smooth running of all the conveyors in the production line is critical to ensuring smooth production; you therefore must keep them free from any obstruction.
Double Shaft Mixer 1 The primary function of the double shaft mixer is to attain a complete mixture of the two types of clay, with the aid of measured moisturizing, for a uniformed plasticity. The mixer has to be regularly cleaned and lubricated. Its worms have to be refilled, whenever they are worn out. Conveyor 4 Another conveyor is needed to deliver the mixed clay to a huge metal box, named a hopper, made to serve as a reservoir. This and the hopper are additional luxury, where you can afford it; without them, the link would be direct to the roller mill. Hopper [Clay Reservoir] The Hopper stores mixed clay; it gives you allowance for any breakdown at the initial stages on the production line. The whole configuration sits on moving chains which have to be oiled regularly to ensure smooth function. Equally, the gear box needs constant lubrication. 11
Conveyor 5 This conveyor feeds the Large Roller Mills from the hopper. In the absence of a hopper in the factory, this conveyor would be from the first double shaft mixer.
Double Roller Mill As the name suggests, two large rollers are placed, between which clay passes. The gap between the rollers is adjustable. To keep the surfaces smooth, regular grinding is needed. The clay material comes out as thin flat flakes. Conveyor 7 This conveyor delivers the milled clay to the double shaft mixer next to the extruder.
Double Mixer 2 This is the double mixer attached to the extruder. It has worms, a clutch system, automatic water sensor and control, all of which must be constantly monitored to ensure hitchfree performance.
5.0 EXTRUSION Extruder The Extruder is a vacuum chamber into which wet clay is pulled and pushed out. It has worms, knives, lubrication system to ensure oil circulation. It has brake and clutch systems. It has to be in a sound condition with stock of necessary spares to ensure continuous performance.
Vacuum System The vacuum system consists of the pump, the tank and the intake and discharge piping. This unit sucks out air within the extruder, to ensure the required compaction of the clay.
6.0 CUTTING STATION The Mouth Piece The mouth-piece is where the compacted clay is pushed out, extruded. It is designed to be fit for products of varying width.
The Die Moulds The die moulds, screwed to the mouthpiece, are chiselled metal pattern through which the compacted clay is forced out. These are used for making a variety of clay products, such as the standard small brick, FN, sun-breakers, etc. Subsequent request of any particular products would necessitate the fabrication or purchase of more moulds.
The Cutter The cutting machine cuts, with wires, the patterned brick form into either predetermined column or brick units of same size. The speed of the cutter is one of the determinants of the production capacity of the factory.
Conveyor 8 The cut-brick transporting table, a configuration of roller bars fixed to three sets of tables with individual regulators and switches, is designed to move the wet bricks to be palletized and finally to the ascending frame, or the columns to the multi-cutter to be reduced to sizes.
The Multiple Cutters The multi-cutter receives columns of brick-formed clay from the mouthpiece which it then cuts into the desired measurement.
7.0 GREENBRICK TO THE DRYERS Palletizer The pallets feed-station is designed to run automatically, receiving discharged pallets from the descending frame, collecting green bricks from the cutting station, loading them up to the ascending frame.
Pallets These are metal or galvanized grids made to hold the cut bricks en route to the drying chambers, or back. They must be sturdy enough to withstand the weight of the wet bricks.
The Gathering or the Ascending Frame Its primary role is to collect the cut wet bricks, stacked on the pallets, making them ready to be picked by the Finger-car.
The Finger Car The finger car, a tram moving on rails, is designed to extend its arms out, placing them just under the pallets on the ascending frame, then, to lift the whole load up. The collection of the bricks from the cutting station is then transported to the dryers.
8.0 DRYERS/ PRE-HEATER CHAMBERS The Dryers The dryers are narrow long rooms. They are designed to receive wet bricks, stacked on pallets. Each chamber has ventilating fans which blow a mixer of warm air from the kiln or from a pre-heater (Hot Air Generator), and fresh air from the vents, for the drying, without cracks, of the wet bricks.
Heat Transfer from the Kiln Heat is extract from the cooling zone of the Kiln. It is transferred through conduit pipes to be used in the dryers. This facility aids the drying of the wet bricks using heat that would otherwise be wasted; this extraction minimizes huge expenditure on the heat exchanger.
9.0 DRY BRICKS TO THE SETTING STATION The Descending Frame The descending frame and the brick unloading system is meant to collect bricks from the finger-car out of the dryer and to get them ready for conveyance to the setting station.
Setting Bay The setting station is where kiln-cars are loaded with dried bricks, in a systematic pattern to ensure each individual brick is well fired in the kiln. This is done manually by experienced workforce.
Kiln cars & Furniture Kiln-cars are flat beds on rails. They are designed to hold bricks through the kiln for burning. All the kiln cars must have good furniture, designed to withstand the high temperature in the kiln. This will allow for the effective optimization of the kiln operation, and also the overall performance of the plant as a profitable going concern. 10.0 THE KILN & BRICK FIRING Kiln & Burner Configuration The Kiln is the brick oven. The tunnel kiln is a facilitator of a continuous feeding, firing and evacuation of the burnt bricks. It has three zones: preheating, firing and cooling zones. The kiln-cars with loads of bricks are continuously pushed through the zones, as the bricks get fired at fixed temperature to achieve the desired colouration. The 1st zone has a temperature range of about 100-500C. The 2nd zone ranges from 600-1000C. The 3rd zone is meant to reduce the temperature so as to prevent the burnt bricks from cracking, as they get exposed to the outdoor atmosphere. The burners are configured in rows, supplied with fuel, warming air and compressed air, for good spray and efficient firing. 18
Thermocouples & Controllers There must be a heat monitoring system made up of thermocouples and controllers which are properly connected to give good indication of the heat and the firing conditions in the kiln. 11.0 THE FINISHED BURNT PRODUCTS
With good heat monitoring system, the fired bricks would have uniformity both in coloration and the degree of transformation. This is achieved through harmonious firing pattern and thermal control. When done, the kiln-cars exit the kiln via the transfer-cars. Normally, there are two of them which are placed at the entry and the exit of the kiln. They transport and manoeuvre the kiln cars to a different position or direction. The kiln cars are then parked at the off-loading bar. Here, the unloading of the finished products is done either manually on to a conveyor or evacuated with a forklift or brick clamps.
12.0 UTILITIES Power Supply: Public & Standby Ensure that the incoming substation and the panels are certified by the public supplier of electricity. It is critical to provide a change over equipment between the standby generating sets and the public supply. Water: Public Supply, Bore Holes & Storage A lot of water is needed for the green brick production. Therefore, enough provision must be made for this stuff: through public supply, bore holes and storage, to ensure constant supply of the required amount for production. Fuels: Black Oil, Diesel & Petrol Supply and Storage There must be surplus storage facilities for all the required fuels: black oil for the kiln, diesel for generators, and petrol for the vehicles. Full provision must be made for black oil fuel heating and draining.
Air: Compressors 1 & 2 You need to have at least 2 compressors in the factory. The compressed air is used for green brick production, the kiln burners and any piece of equipment that might require compressed air for it to function. 20
Workshop & Stores The workshops, mechanical and electrical, must be equipped with the right equipments. There must be a stock of spare parts securely kept in the stores.
13.0 OFFICES/ ADMINISTRATION FACILITIES Offices You need to have enough office accommodation for current staff strength and extra space reserved for any future expansion of your production activity. You also need sanitary facilities in the factory. Phone and internet services will be of immense benefit to the factory. Staffing The factory must be adequately staffed. Sometimes, you may need to invite experienced personnel from outside both for consultancy and operational tasks. Some workers are engaged on daily basis, these are also trained, to be absorbed as staff replacement or for future expansion. Security The factory buildings and the administrative blocks must be well fenced against trespassers. Some security sheds need to be provided. The exterior lighting must be adequate, so also is it within the factory. Transports The company must have official and staff vehicles: salon cars, buses and pickup trucks. 21
SUMMATION Based on the current situation in Nigeria, and my experience at two factories, Shelter Clay in Minna and Funtua Brickworks, I would outline two possible courses of action, when it comes to running this kind of outfit: 1. For full capacity production, the investors must raise huge capital, invite various consultants, local or foreign, import massive equipment and parts, and recruit experienced workers from anywhere, irrespective of state of origin, then hope to recoup their investment, within the shortest time frame. However, there is no certainty that such decision would guarantee success; the market might not be 100% matching the speculative production capacity, neither would the high-tech imported equipments be rightly conducive to the unsophisticated environment. 2. Or, to operate the factory at a crunching low pace of a range of 30% to 50% capacity, while the local labour is being trained. Occasionally, the investors will be called upon to inject more funds hoping that at the end the venture might stabilize to stand on its own feet. This has the advantage of giving the local population the chance to grow in knowledge and experience, and to be able to handle whatever problems that might arise in the future as relates to the industrial process.
Usman Aliyu 2012