Brick unit ups capacity, cuts down on emissions

Wienerberger’s Kunigal factory adopts sustainable practices, relying on solar energy and sourcing clay from dead water tanks. By M.A. Siraj

Wieneberger AG, a global player in the construction sector, is investing ₹30 crore in its Kunigal factory. The announcement was made on Tuesday (December 3) on the eve of its 200th anniversary.

The Vienna-based MNC is the largest producer of bricks (Porotherm, see photo) and the market leader in clay roof tiles in Europe as well as concrete pavers in Central and Eastern Europe. The first porotherm (perforated clay bricks) manufacturing unit in Kunigal went into operation in 2009. The fully automated unit manufactures 450 tonnes of bricks per day which amount to 70,000 bricks a day. Since each of the Porotherm brick equals in size nine standard-sized bricks (produced in conventional Indian kilns), volume wise the daily production amounts to around six lakh bricks.

Christof Domenig, CEO, Wienerberger Building Solutions, told newsmen visiting the unit that the new investment will enable the company to support its expansion plans including upgradation of equipment in the factory, switching over to natural gas as a fuel and launch of new building solutions that will facilitate faster construction with lesser resource consumption.

Solar power

The Kunigal unituses robots for pick-and-place operations and the entire process from feeding of raw material till the rolling out of fired bricks (for stacking) requires around 18 hours. Plant Manager D.J. Jagadeesha informed the newsmen that of the 30,000 units of power consumed at the unit daily, 95 per cent comes from solar energy.

Wienerberger AG was set up in Vienna in 1819 and launched its operation in India in 2009. During 2018, the company supplied material for 180,000 houses, covering 290,000 roofs, laying 745,000 km pipes and paving 17 million square metre of surfaces across the world.

According to Monnanda Appaiah, Managing Director, Wienerberger India, the fresh investment is expected to enable the unit to further cut down the CO2 emission by 40% even while enhancing the capacity by 25%. He said the unit sources the clay from 20 dead water bodies from the surrounding areas, thereby recharging them through desilting. The unit uses natural additives such as granite waste, saw dust, rice husk and coal ash as inputs, thereby incorporating sustainable practices in manufacturing.

Mr. Appaiah said the company also supplies Dryfix System, a specially formulated adhesive for bonding the bricks, thereby replacing sand and water. The system accelerates speed of construction as it requires no curing.

He said Porotherm bricks produced at the factory weigh 60% less than the conventional walling material, provide thermal and sound insulation and each brick carries the date of manufacturing and meets all specifications for structural strength under the National Building Code.

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