To remain competitive, manufacturers and
sellers must get products to market quickly and efficiently while maintaining
the highest possible quality levels. Competition also plays a key role in
perpetuating cycles of change that require constant product innovations and
improvements. In order to increase market share in the highly competitive
construction market, brick producers are offering a more comprehensive product
line and constantly improving their production output.
To do so, the brick
industry has undergone a rapid move to automation over the last seven to 10
years. The trend toward automation has allowed brick producers to meet greater
market demands while paving the way for a more comprehensive product line,
which includes different sizes, textures and colors of brick products.
To stay competitive with block, vinyl and
stucco producers, brick plants nationwide are undergoing major overhauls and
renovations to incorporate newer automated systems and processes that are more
labor- and cost-effective. From the gradual elimination of monorails to the
addition of auto dehackers and robotics, brick plants are using automation as a
primary means to improve market share within the industry.
As such, equipment suppliers must continue to satisfy the changing needs of
brick manufacturers. They must develop new application equipment with the goal
of reducing operating costs and keeping production lines running at full
capacity. Their product lines must marry quality with speed, yet accommodate a
constantly changing manufacturing environment. In addition, their equipment has
to be easy to integrate into a production line without causing extensive down
Comprehensive protective packaging products supply advanced production
efficiency and simplify storage, handling and transportation. With the
potential for damage and handling difficulties in transit, proper packaging is
essential to getting brick products safely to their destination. Protective
packaging products for the brick industry include automatic strapping systems,
polyester strap and edge protection products.
Automatic strapping systems lend themselves to the automated environment
by providing speed, efficiency and reliability in the packaging production
line. One of the first automated strapping systems to replace the
labor-intensive method of securing brick loads with hand tools was introduced
in the ’90s,* and a new system has recently been developed.** The two strapping
machines use the same type of strap and offer many of the same production
features, such as high tension and speed. However, the new unit was
specifically designed in response to the industry’s need for strapping
equipment that provides even higher tension, increased throughput and easy
*The MHT-80, manufactured by Signode Corp.
**The Z-20, manufactured by Signode Corp.
An Innovative System
A focus on customer-driven development aided
engineers in designing the latest strapping system. Brick manufacturers needed
a system that not only provided higher tension levels to better secure brick
cubes, but also faster throughput to keep up with changing production
standards. In addition, customers wanted a system that lowered maintenance
costs and reduced the downtime that would be associated with routine
into consideration a brick plant’s harsh environment, engineers
designed a modular strapping system that provides the highest possible tension
with the least amount of maintenance. The modular system separates the
traditional strapping head into two components, a
sealer module and a feeder module, each
weighing less than 60 lbs. As a result, routine
service now takes just two minutes, as
opposed to the previous 30-minute process.
The system also incorporates a number of features that limit production
downtime. Fully integrated troubleshooting displays and error codes help to
identify any problems that may occur with the equipment. An operator interface displays strap cycle
counts for production tracking and preventative maintenance. The system also
requires no warm-up time and can accommodate varying production runs, including
half-packs and full packs, without making system adjustments. The end result is
an innovative strapping system that provides better production efficiency and
Ideally suited to the new automated plants, the strapping system can be used in
a dual strapping station configuration. The two systems, used side-by-side,
produce higher packaging speeds with faster cycle rates and less downtime. The
addition of a second strapping system to the packaging line also eliminates any
production backups if one of the machines requires maintenance, routine or
To complement these innovations, a proprietary high-strength polyester strap
has been formulated specifically for the brick industry.+ The
strapping, which is ideally suited for settling brick loads, has excellent
elongation and recovery characteristics, and stays tight for maximum package
manufactured by Signode Corp.
Equipment for brick manufacturing must
address the industry’s demanding needs, but it must also be integrated quickly
and efficiently without sacrificing crucial production time. Suppliers to the
industry should assist in the transition by supervising the installation of
their equipment to ensure a smooth, trouble-free startup. Machine maintenance
contracts and regular scheduled overhaul programs should also be in place to
keep packaging lines running smoothly.
to the brick industry’s changing needs, equipment manufacturers continue to
create new application equipment with the goals of reducing operating costs and
maximizing production efficiency and output. To be successful, these suppliers
should have a dedicated team in place to address the needs of the industry and
to develop the product and equipment solutions that help brick manufacturers
remain competitive in a changing marketplace.
For more information regarding automation options for the brick
industry, contact Signode Brick Industry Systems, 604 Green Valley Rd., Ste.
300, Greensboro, NC 27408; (877) 744-2742; fax (336) 632-8726; e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org; or visit www.signode.com.