SPECIAL SECTION/BRICK & CLAY RECORD: New Purpose, New Opportunity
It's fairly common these days for old brick to be repurposed for new installations. Old school houses or train stations are demolished, and the existing brick is salvaged and used elsewhere. It's a testament to brick's strength and longevity that this practice is even possible.
What's less heard of is the repurposing of an entire plant, but that's exactly what Mid America Brick & Structural Clay Products LLC, Mexico, Mo., is currently undertaking. The company has acquired the facilities formerly owned and operated by A.P. Green Refractories, Inc. and plans to manufacture face brick and related products once the project is complete.
A.P. Green ceased operations at the plant in 2002. The facility comprises numerous buildings totaling over 30 acres under roof, as well as equipment and machinery for the manufacture of refractories. "We are going to take the facility from being a refractory plant to a plant that produces face brick," says Frank Cordie, president of Mid America Brick. "At the moment, we have 32 employees working on converting it, as well as contractors."
Project DetailsPre-production activities include the rehabilitation of portions of the plant, as well as the relocation of some equipment and the installation of new equipment. The grinding process will include an Eagle crusher and a Stedman Grand Slam™, which will feed Midwestern MEV 510 screens. The grinding plant has the bin capacity to store over 800 tons of ground materials.
The extrusion process will incorporate a JC Steele 90 pug mill and extruder. Basic Machinery is providing the mill room equipment, including robotic setting capabilities, the cutter and texturing beam, additive feeders, etc. Automated Solutions Inc. is renovating and installing a monorail for packaging, and Star Engineering is providing automatic kiln car transfers and new haulages.
The facility includes a considerable number of conveyors, which Mid America Brick is repositioning to suit its needs. "We took the conveyors from one part of the facility and made ourselves a conveying system to go from grinding to the mill room, which is approximately 300 ft," explains Cordie. "We're in the process of doing all of that to get the clay to the position where the extruder will be."
The dryers and one of the 11 existing tunnel kilns are being renovated by Dunlap Kiln Technology, Inc. "We're basically redoing the kiln in its entirety, with all-new burners, gas, air, computer and electrics," says Cordie. "We're also redoing some of the brick work in the cooling section. In addition, we went through all of the kiln cars, and each car has been reconditioned."
Looking AheadThe sheer size of the plant offers a number of opportunities. "The facility lends itself to the potential to do other things even unrelated to face brick," says Cordie. "We could get into other areas outside of the brick industry."
In the meantime, the repurposed plant is expected to begin production this spring, with around 40 employees and one kiln firing modular, queen and king-sized brick. Mid America Brick will initially offer 15 colors, as well as a tumbled line. When future business conditions warrant, a second tunnel kiln and associated dryers will be rehabilitated to increase production. Cordie estimates that the plant's annual capacity could reach 65 million brick equivalents, with 70-75 employees company wide.
For more information, contact Mid America Brick at 600 Green Blvd., Mexico, MO 65265; call (573) 581-8622; e-mail sales@MABrick.com; or visit www.midamericabrick.com.