Dragon & TC Kilns has announced its first major success in Korea for a number of years as it begins the construction of a 90 cubic metre, natural gas fired shuttle kiln for that country’s leading ceramic sanitaryware plant. Once again, this is a milestone order won against a line-up of strong international competition.
The contract to supply the new kiln – valued at around US$700,000 – was awarded by IS Dongseo Co Ltd, a Seoul-based group which employs over 1,000 people and is engaged in the manufacture of ceramic and concrete products as well as having a construction business.
The ceramic manufacturing, conducted at three plants (all in Korea) involves the full range of modern sanitaryware and wall, floor, stairway and façade tiles. Concrete products comprise PHC piles, segments and rail ties, while the construction business covers apartments, villas, schools, museums, leisure facilities and residential-commercial complexes.
Total group sales in 2008 for IS Dongseo amounted to 270,184 million Korean Won (approx. US$230 million) and in that financial year the Ceramic Division accounted for nearly 26% of sales at 69,703 million Won (approx. US$59.32 million). The Ceramic Division was established back in 1975 and is a market leader in Korea – it was awarded the status of ‘Excellent KS Product Company’ in July 2008.
The IS Dongseo directors, who are based at the company headquarters in Gangnam-Gu, Seoul, said they were in the process of strengthening the company “inside and out, with absolutely superior capacities and excellent competitive power”.
“IS Dongseo is modern, technologically driven and is pushing the expansion of the Korean sanitaryware and tile sectors,” said Adam Slater, director of Dragon. “In its ambitions, expertise and good name, it is a perfect match with the ethos here at Dragon & TC Kilns. We are excited to be a part of the company’s next expansion phase and this new unit should be operational in a relatively short space of time”.
The technically advanced shuttle kiln for vitreous china production will be installed at IS Dongseo’s sanitaryware plant in Tangjeong in Asan City. Sanitaryware has been produced on the Asan site, south of Seoul, since 1989 and the annual capacity before the addition of the new kiln was somewhere just in excess of 11,000 tons.
The Dragon & TC Kilns unit is an eight-car, two-deck downdraft shuttle kiln rated at 1180°C for refire, 1220°C for first fire and with a maximum firing capability of 1300°C. It is intended to operate six days a week, 50 weeks a year and cycles at 20 hours, cold to cold. Across the two 4 metre-wide decks the kiln will fire 384 pieces per fire, yielding just under 140,000 pieces per year (approximately 1100 tons).
IS Dongseo is well known in the area for its INUS brand, as well as innovations such as Ecocarat tile and Ecopul. It has the only advanced CAD/CAM sanitaryware design system operating in Korea and is striving to achieve a zero production error rate, using ultra-precision automatic systems and operating with an innovative product development system that reduces the production cycle to just one-third of that previously experienced. The new energy efficient kiln – with a fuel consumption of just 2000kcal/kg of ware (±10%) – is set to contribute further to the company’s goals in this area.
Amongst the special and sometimes unique products in the Korean market offered by IS Dongseo are premium bidet-attached WC, general bidet-attached WC, far-infrared WC, combined sink units, urinals and a range of quality taps.
The company is also a major Korean ceramic tile manufacturer and is thought to be the only one now exporting to South-East Asia, Europe, Australia and North America.
Floor tiles are manufactured at the factory in Goesan (east of Asan City) with both wall and floor tiles being produced at the Jinju facility in Gyeongsangnam-do in the south of the country.
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