Energy consultants learn about brickmaking

Lecturer Dries van Vuuren of Cermalab presents the EECB "Overview to Brickmaking" course.

An educational course on brickmaking was presented  to Energy Consultants by Dries van Vuuren of Cermalab. Hosted by the National Clean Production Centre (NCPC), the aim of the course was to bridge the knowledge gap that currently exists between clay brick makers and the consultants who conduct energy and systematic optimisation through the Resource Efficiency and Clean Production Centre RECP program.

The course was sponsored and organised by The Energy Efficient Clay Brick Project, which is committed to introducing energy efficiency measures to the clay brick sector.

The consultants could not have been placed in better hands - the course was facilitated by the highly knowledgeable Dries Van Vuuren from Cermalab who has been in the industry for over 40 years. Many in attendance had never visited a clay brick factory before and appreciated the opportunity to learn more about what the brick making process entails.

Learning to Identify energy saving opportunities

Dries shared with the consultants how they can identify possible energy saving opportunities within the brick making process as well as how to identify the possible impact their energy saving advice may have on quality and production of the bricks.  Previous consultations revealed to the NCPC that the consultants are identifying electrical cost saving potential but they failed to identify the saving potential that exists in the brick drying and firing processes due to their lack of brick making knowledge.  It is for this reason that the EECB, together with the NCPC, ran this course.  This ensures that the energy consultants understand the brick makers themselves as well as the brick making language because it is only when the consultants understand the business that they can truly provide comprehensive energy management consultative services.

Munya Makumbe, Business Leader and Principal Consultant from iDeaX Africa, had this to say about the course,

“The course covered the basic theoretical aspects sufficiently but I had expected some form of practical engagement or demonstration. The complexity of the brick-making process and the dependence of the brick quality and yield on upstream processes was quite surprising. The process is not as simple as it appears to the casual observer. I definitely feel more confident providing consulting services to brick makers because I am more aware of the potential impact of my recommendations on the productivity, quality and economic aspects of brick-making. Dries was an excellent instructor and demonstrated thorough practical and theoretical knowledge of the course content.”

Picture: Dries Van Vuuren explaining how the VSBK shaft works

The course was well presented and guarantees that brick makers seeking energy management consultations will receive recommendations from consultants who know and understand the process and who now have a more robust understanding of the clay brick making business.  To keep the momentum going, the NCPC will be hosting another brick making course for project managers towards the end of the year.  To ensure that the participants get the full experience this course will be held at a brick making plant ensuring that the participants get a more hands on experience.

Participants who successfully completed the course include; Noorjehan Hassen and Vuwani Matshaketini from Energy Cybernetics, Mukhaluli Magwana from Greg Green, Mpho Matsepe of MMSR Consulting, TC Botha and Gerhard Nel from DNS Consultants, Lax Mangyengavana of Cynergy Engineering Solutions, Edmore Mazunzu and Moses Motaung of Madikela Engineering Solutions, Munya Makumbe of iDeax Africa, Engineering Solutions, and Potjo Nthama of VW Consultants.  Brick makers are encouraged to contact these service providers for assistance in energy management and energy audit services.

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