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3/16/2009
Productivity, energy savings – and competitiveness

A look at Johnson Tiles, which chose to renovate with Sacmi

Energy is a scarce, precious resource. Saving it and using it efficiently is a crucial competitiveness factor, as important as technological or product excellence. So it will come as no surprise that the world’s major companies operating in energy-intensive industries – like ceramics – are focussing their investment efforts on energy savings.

As is the case with Johnson Tiles: based in the British city of Stoke on Trent – half way between Manchester and Birmingham – this company installed, during its summer production break, an all-Sacmi heat recovery system. Currently installed on just one of the two main kilns – but very likely, given the outstanding performance, to be extended to the entire plant – the system recovers the hot air from the kiln cooling zone and reintroduces it into the burners. This means that the air entering the burners themselves is pre-heated, thus reducing the quantity of gas needed to heat the air inside the combustion chamber. The result? Fuel savings of over 10%, allowing the company to save, in just 19 weeks, over 658 thousand kWh of energy; that means 177 tons less carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere and an economic return, thanks to reduced consumption, of 23,650 pounds.

A business division of the Norcos parent company since March 2008, Johnson Tiles operates in an industrial district with a distinguished history as the ‘cradle’ of renowned British ceramics. The area went into inexorable decline following widespread delocalisation to China, India and Pakistan, yet Johnson Tiles represents an important exception to this trend. This is because, since 2000, the company has shown an outstanding capacity for renewal; in that year it concentrated tile production, previously spread among three different plants, in just one facility. Fully renewed, this factory has been equipped with the very latest Sacmi technology. Various products have been purchased, the most important being two very high-performance FMS 250/105 kilns, with an output capacity of about 10,000 square metres per day (150x150 mm monoporosa): excellent productivity to which the company has decided to add – once again putting its faith in Sacmi’s skill and know-how– the clear-cut benefits of a heat recovery system.

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