Ceramic Industries Invests In World-leading Tile Tech

Ceramic Industries’ new SAMCA+ plant, now being installed in Hammanskraal, Gauteng, will feature world-leading technology and machinery.

Ceramic Industries’ new SAMCA+ plant will be producing large-format floor tiles in response to a strong market preference for their near-seamless look.

Installation of one of the world’s most advanced tile production facilities has begun in Hammanskraal, Gauteng. Ceramic Industries’ new SAMCA+ plant will feature Italian-made SACMI tile pressing equipment, along with a new 241m-long, energy-efficient kiln.

“As an innovative business with a long-term view on our investments, we decided to get ahead of the game and invest in world-leading technology and machinery,” said SAMCA+ Factory Manager Jaco Snyman. The investment totals R274 million, and includes the installation of energy efficient, Italian-made SACMI Continua equipment, production lines and kiln.

What makes SAMCA+ different?

Conventional tile pressing is achieved by filling a cavity with clay, then pressing it between two punches. The bisque emerges as rectangular or square shapes to a size determined by the amount of clay in the cavity and the size of the die box. By contrast, the new machinery uses technology that’s able to form the clay between two large rollers in a continuous feed. The clay is cut to size thereafter. This ensures maximum flexibility for tile dimensions, allowing unlimited lengths, widths of up to 1800mm and thicknesses of between 3mm and 30mm

“This is a first for our Group, and a first in southern Africa. Few manufacturers in the world have the ability to produce a red-body tile with high-quality textures and unrivalled surfaces,” said Snyman.

New tech, new tiles, new sizes

SAMCA+ will be producing large-format floor tiles, responding to a strong preference in the market for the near-seamless look that can be attained with these sizes. The initial production will include sizes up to 900 X 900mm in square tiles and up to 600 X 1200mm in rectangular tiles. Production trials on slabs up to 1800 X 3000mm in size are planned, and when these are production-ready, they’ll be the only South African-made slabs on the market.

An in-line rectification plant forms part of the manufacturing process, producing perfectly square edges that allow for grouting gaps as small as 1mm, ideal for attaining an uninterrupted design effect. Initial production will commence in September 2021, and from early 2022 SAMCA+ will also manufacture a select range of shiny tiles. State-of-the-art printing equipment will allow for special effects and printed profiled finishes.

Environmental leadership

“We have ambitious plans to become a producer with zero carbon emissions, so the environmental credentials of any new plant equipment is crucial,” said Snyman. By the company’s current estimations, the new equipment will result in a 17% saving on electricity and a 21% saving on gas. Part of the efficiencies are won from heat recovery, with hot air directed from the kiln’s cooling chimney to the drier.

The continuous production method also reduces clay wastage from 12% to just 3%. However, the aim is to achieve zero waste on clay, and the new machinery allows for 100% recovery for reuse in the milling process.

Preparing for demand

A team of 14 Italian technicians will oversee the process in collaboration with the local SAMCA+ team. “Our team members are in a unique position, as they have the opportunity to re-build and install state-of-the-art equipment that they will ultimately be working with,” said Snyman. “We’ll be learning new skills from the SACMI team, enabling us to become the most technologically advanced tile producer in South Africa”.

Snyman emphasised the company’s track record of successfully reading international design trends and the needs of the local market. “We’re confident South Africans are going to love these new, high-quality, large-format tiles – made with ecologically responsible methods by a proudly South African company,” he said.

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