SPECIAL SECTION: MATERIALS HANDLING/POWDER PROCESSING: Don't Cut Corners

April 1, 2009
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Sacmi’s new Sidepack tile packaging system provides product protection while reducing energy and material consumption.



The new Sidepack system uses much less cardboard than traditional tray or wrap packaging methods.

Improved efficiencies and reduced costs are the goals of every manufacturer in today’s challenging economic environment. At the same time, consumers are becoming increasingly interested in the sustainability movement and are turning to manufacturers that can exhibit environmentally friendly business practices. Luckily, suppliers to the ceramic and related industries are developing products that help manufacturers keep costs in line while reducing energy and material consumption.

“The ceramic industry is notoriously energy-intensive,” says Claudio Marani, general manager of the Sacmi Group’s Ceramics division. “It therefore follows that sustainability, especially in terms of energy, is a top priority. Even just a few percentage points of energy savings can translate into significant absolute values in economic terms. Lesser fuel requirements mean lower environmental impact and lower atmospheric gas emissions.”

To help manufacturers meet these goals, Sacmi recently developed the High Efficiency Resource Optimizer (H.E.R.O.) study and research laboratory, which is dedicated to developing innovative technologies for achieving resource savings in every phase of the production process. The applications developed as part of the H.E.R.O. project enable the energy consumption of the main machine in the installation to be reduced by an average of more than 20%.

“Commitment, intense research and tight teamwork between the machine design, plant design, technological laboratory and industrial cost evaluation teams has resulted in solutions that yield reductions in both consumption and environmental impact, plus the economic benefits of lower production costs,” says Marani.

Better Tile Packaging

Designed through H.E.R.O. in response to the increasing demand for eco-compatible industrial technologies, the Sidepack tile packaging system reduces the use of packaging materials that require disposal at building sites.

In actuality, Sidepack is not so much a packaging system as it is a protection system. The principle of the new packager is based on the simple concept of protecting the side corners. “Sidepack packages the tile stack by covering two sides, as opposed to the entire perimeter,” says Marani. “The system employs a packaging machine that arranges two flaps of cardboard on two opposite edges of the stack.” The cardboard pieces are locked onto the tile stack using two straps that can be used at the building site as a simple grip system for the product.

The range of possible tile formats can include traditional and large formats, with   no specific fitting modifications between tile sizes. In the case of medium and large tile formats, exceptional cardboard savings can be achieved vs. traditional packaging. Compared to tray packaging, Sidepack can achieve cardboard savings of around 60% for large formats (i.e., 60 x 60 or 60 x 120 cm) and as much as 75% for larger slabs. The economic advantage is less but remains considerable when compared with traditional wrap packaging; for a 30 x 30 cm tile format, Sidepack reduces the packaging cost by 37%.

The Sidepack solution is a concrete response to the growing demand for sustainable, environmentally friendly industrial technologies that reduce raw material consumption. “Less packaging means less raw material consumption and reduced waste disposal costs,” says Marani.

For more information, contact Sacmi Imola S.C. Via Provinciale Selice, 17/A - 40026 Imola (BO) Italy; (39) 0542-607111; fax (39) 0542-642354; e-mail sacmi@sacmi.it; or visit www.sacmi.com.

SIDEBAR: Sacmi and the Environment

“Sacmi has always been attentive to environmental issues. Sacmi supplies industrial solutions characterized by closed production cycles. All liquid waste and solid green/glazed waste from the intermediate stages of the industrial process are reprocessed and fed back into the production cycle.

“Sacmi also utilizes cutting-edge dust reduction systems. All Sacmi plants and machines feature effective dust capture and abatement systems. Plants are designed and sized by the technical office and produced by major Italian specialist suppliers in this sector.”

- Claudio Marani

SIDEBAR: Everyone Needs a H.E.R.O.

“H.E.R.O. is a new way of developing and building each individual machine and part of the technological process. It is a methodological approach to ensure not just the quality, efficiency and flexibility of its products, but also to optimize energy consumption and, where possible, minimize environmental impact.

“Research linked to the H.E.R.O. project has led to innovative solutions in key production departments. For grinding, the slip production process has been optimized with what we call a ‘modular’ grinding technique that provides all the benefits of continuous grinding and adds an additional two key advantages: simplicity of use and homogenization of the grinding process. This second aspect means lower energy consumption because grinding is carried out in three distinct phases-reduction, true grinding and refinement-with relative optimization of the process. Compared to classic continuous grinding, savings are on the order of 11%.

“We have developed a process for spray drying whereby kiln fumes are reused. Consequent benefits include reduced environmental impact, since the fumes are first treated to remove fluorine (no longer dispersed into the environment), and considerable energy savings. Kiln fume temperatures are often around 200°C, and fuel consumption is reduced when that heat energy is made available to the spray-drying process. Savings are estimated to be around 30%.

“In the pressing department, a system called DEAIR has significantly reduced (by about 10%) the electrical power requirements of the pressing process itself. For drying, we have studied how to improve and adapt the drying machines so they can use hot air recovered from the in-kiln tile cooling process. Similar to the results seen in spray drying, this provides the dual advantages of using air (not polluted but often dusty) in a process instead of dispersing it into the environment while reducing consumption of the fuels normally used in the drying process (from 20 to 50%, depending on the facility).

“We have also been able to maximize heat recovery within the kiln. In addition to conveying fumes and hot air to spray dryers and dryers, heat recovery allows additional savings and lower fuel consumption in the firing process itself. Compared to traditional kilns with no recovery systems, savings are on the order of 15%.”

- Claudio Marani

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