PROBLEMS FACING SMALL-SCALE MANUFACTURERS
OF BUILDING CERAMIC
I. A. Zhenzhurist
Translated from Ogneupory i Tekhnicheskaya Keramika, No. 4, pp. 28 – 30, April, 2001.
Factors underlying the current tendency to put in service low-productivity manufacturing lines are discussed.
Principles of organization of cost-effective plants for production of building ceramic are outlined.
The capital consumption in the brick-manufacturing
branch of the wall materials industry has at present reached
40%, and about 60% of the total of enterprises bear losses.
The main reason for this uncomfortable position arises from
the setback in production . In the next several years, one
can hardly expect a significant improvement in capital re-
newals because of the shortage of investments. Despite the
fact that certain large enterprises of the ceramic industry
have been modernized — for example, Pobeda Co. (St. Pe-
tersburg), updated through the assistance of Knauff Co. (Ger-
many) — the global problem of providing the national econ-
omy with ceramic building materials is far from being
solved. Under such conditions, a realistic way of resolving
this important issue may be the involvement of small-scale
enterprises whose share in the wall materials industry by
1998 amounted to about 84% .
At present, it has been recognized in the ceramic industry
that manufacturing lines with an annual productivity of con
ventional brick items (CBI) of less than 10 million, that is,
25 – 30 thousand CBI per day, are economically ineffective.
Exceptions to the rule are seasonal enterprises with a mini
mum daily productivity of 3000 CBI .
The worldwide automation of production has necessi
tated the use of manufacturing lines with a productivity of up
to 100 million CBI per year. The development of advanced,
mostly highly productive, processing and forming equipment
for such lines and the use of updated technologies made it
possible to fabricate high-quality products from raw materi
als of various grades .
In Russia, there has recently been a distinct trend toward
the development of low-productivity manufacturing lines —
3 – 5 million CBI per year. There are a number of underlying
reasons for this:
– at present, large deposits of raw clay are either ex-
hausted or located far from the traditional centers of the ce-
– small- and medium-scale manufacturers are incapable
of sustaining the burden of developing new large deposits
and putting in service automated processing lines, especially
based on foreign-made equipment and advanced technolo-
– development of small-sized deposits or erection of ce-
ramic plants to meet the needs of regional building industries
requires putting into service low-productivity lines, prefera
bly based on domestic equipment. In Russia, such facilities
in the needed range were virtually unavailable.
Recent studies of high-rate sintering of coarse ceramics
using kilns of a new generation  and the thermal analysis
of massive sintered ceramics  give reason to believe that
low-productivity lines, with properly developed technologies
for specific raw materials, can ensure the production of
A challenging problem is the development of energy-
saving technologies, especially for sintering processes. An
other problem that is difficult to resolve even for large enter
prises is the replacement of obsolete equipment. Viewed in
this light, the “Termogaz” kilns of a new generation [4, 6],
available from the Institute of Ceramic Engineering (Sla
vyansk, Ukraine), might be a welcome solution to the prob
lem of modernization of existing large enterprises and the de
velopment of cost-effective small-scale enterprises. The new
facilities allow the sintering cycle to be shortened by a factor
of 2 – 3, and the annual gas consumption to be reduced by a
factor of 2 – 5 (for tunnel kilns) or 5 (for chamber kilns)
Refractories and Industrial Ceramics Vol. 42, Nos.3–4, 2001
1083-4877/01/0304-0160$25.00 © 2001 Plenum Publishing Corporation
Zavod ZhBI-3 Joint-Stock Company, Republic of Tatarstan,