State of the art burners enable brickworks to build on efficiency
24 May 2019
A traditional manufacturer found a cutting-edge solution when its furnaces needed to adapt to differing product requirements and reduce output waste
Brick manufacturer H.G Matthews, which was established in 1923, needed a more efficient heating solution to improve production at its traditional yard in Buckinghamshire, which produces 3 million bricks every year.
In addition to manufacturing regular finished bricks, H.G Matthews produces specialist bricks for historic buildings and restoration projects, which are handmade to unique dimensions with specific finishes and a custom glaze.
In order to avoid cracking, inconsistent coloration or surface defects, glazed bricks must be heated in a kiln following a very specific temperature curve. This involves a gradual initial increase of temperature and then a very slow further increase up to 1,200 degrees Celsius to ensure the bricks heat evenly. This temperature is then held for a specific period of time.
The entire cycle is around 24 hours, of which the burners operate for 12 hours and then sit idle for the remaining 12 hours.
The existing oil burners had a limited turndown ratio and could only operate on high-fire due to the basic controls fitted, resulting in a production yield of only 50% – mainly through breakages which could not be re-used.
The existing oil burners could only operate on high-fire, resulting in a production yield of only 50% – mainly through breakages
So the manufacturer turned to Baltur UK. whose fully-modulating gas burners provide outputs ranging from 50kw to 10,850kw and boast low CO and NOx emissions with easy installation, claims the company.
The contractor suggested a heating solution involving the installation of six Baltur TBG 45ME gas burners, producing a total output capability of 900kW.
War on waste
By installing modulating gas burners with custom PLC controls, Baltur engineers were able to specify the rate of temperature increase as well as hold specific temperatures, resulting in most production cycles achieving a 100% yield.
Baltur technical director Martin Cooke, said: “The burners installed are extremely effective for this application and have virtually eliminated wastage in the firing process.
“[They] provide optimum combustion and performance, which means that heating can be controlled in a much more efficient manner.”
A function was also implemented to monitor the temperature and cool down phase so, if the furnace is operated overnight, any production issues can easily be traced and fixed. This eliminates the need to mind the machine minute by minute.
Current owner of H.G Matthews Jim Matthews acknowledged the difference the new burners have made to process efficiency.
“Brickmaking is also an energy intensive industry and by using these burners in our process, which use far less energy, we have seen a significant decrease in our running costs,” he said.
Since the new burners had doubled the output by reducing the rate of wastage from 50% to almost zero, two more furnaces have been installed, with at least one more planned.
Stated Matthews: “Over many years we have developed a bespoke process for making our unique bricks and this new heating solution, which has been tailored to our specific needs, will be instrumental in improving our production yield.”