This year’s TBE Annual General Meeting, again in combination with the meeting of the Clay Roofing Tile Product Group, took place at the invitation of the British association (Brick Development Association Ltd.) from 16th to 17th October 2008 in Cambridge, Great Britain.
Clay Roofing Tile Product Group
On the first day of the Assembly the Clay Roofing Tile Product Group met in the venerable Old Hall of Queens’ College, founded in 1448. At the stroke of 9.00 h the Chairman of the Product Group Paul Fanielle, Imerys, welcomed the participants and reported on the last meeting held on 27th March 2008 in Brussels.
Then the currently most important activities for the roofing tile sector were introduced and discussed, among other things from the fields of environment and emissions. Furthermore an overview of different standards was given, some of which are being revised at present. Thommy Bisgaard gave an insight into the work of the environment committee and informed about the most urgent tasks of the industry and about the various projects, regulation measures and rules on the part of the EU. One subject which the branch will certainly have to examine intensively in future is how to deal with photovoltaic and the risks and opportunities for the clay roofing tile industry.
Excursion to the Hanson Brick plant near Peter-borough
Following the assembly, a visit to the Hanson Brick plant near Peterborough was on the programme. Here, Hanson manufactures the London bricks, the so-called Fletton bricks. After a look at the clay pit located near the plant, the group drove to the brickworks to view the production process. The prepared mass with a moisture content of approx. 17.5% is stiff-pressed in mould boxes (several presses with one pressing mould each). Afterwards the shaped products can also be surface treated by engobing or sanding. The freshly pressed shaped products are set either by hand or by machine. The plant still has two Hoffmann kilns in operation, each with 36 chambers and a capacity of 65 000 bricks per chamber. The firing process works with two fires per kiln. For firing in a Hoffmann kiln, the bricks are stacked on pallets according to a special setting pattern, in order to make optimum use of the interior space of the kiln. The special feature of this production process is that the carbon-containing green products (calorific value between 1 700 and 2 300 kJ/kg) “fire themselves” after ignition. As a result the London bricks can be manufactured very economically, even in times of rising energy costs.
A few years ago a modern Lingl production plant was also installed at this location; this was visited subsequently by the group.
TBE Annual General Meeting
On Friday morning Alex Baxter welcomed the participants of the TBE Annual General Meeting in Cambridge. He was convinced that, even though the financial crisis has taken hold of the branch, brick as a product which has been in use for more than 2000 years will still endure in future.
The retiring TBE President Alfons Hörmann, Creaton, then expressed his thanks in particular to Christophe Sykes, Martin Roth and Gerhard Koch for their comprehensive support during his term of office. He was pleased to have Heimo Scheuch, Wienerberger AG, an experienced man with expert knowledge of the scene as his successor, who has to bring the branch forward in these times of crisis, and wished him every success in his work. Hörmann also expressed his conviction that the TBE, now as a new non-profit organization, will master the tasks of the future. An important field of activity in this respect was also the standardization work.
The TBE members elected Heimo Scheuch unanimously as President. In his inauguration address he appealed urgently to the participants that the crisis can best be mastered with joint action. Scheuch named the rising energy prices as one of the most urgent problems of the branch. Here enormous efforts are necessary in order to orient the production process to the future with new technologies. This also includes optimization of the energy input and the further consideration and utilization of alternative raw materials. A second important theme is emissions trading, which the industry will also have to deal with in future, for this development is not to be stopped. Here, the brick tile industry should pursue joint lobby work. The focal theme of “sustainability” is also a significant field of activity for European lobby work. It is necessary that the brick and tile industry with its excellent products should assert itself even more strongly against competitor products. For example, the concrete industry invests a great deal in very good lobby work. Scheuch summarized his message in a striking sentence: “The intensified and joint efforts of the European brick and tile industry are necessary in order to fight for brick in future and to demonstrate its positive properties.” Scheuch called on the participants to carry the impulses of responsibility into the industry and expressly thanked all members acting in an honorary capacity.
In addition to his report of activities, the TBE Secretary-General Christophe Sykes also gave an outlook on the work in 2009. An important objective is also to recruit new members for the TBE.
The Chairmen of the individual Product Groups then informed the participants about their work. Christine Paschoalique, Wienerberger AG, described the successful participation of the brick and tile industry at the World Sustainable Building Conference in Melbourne (see also report on page 7).
To conclude the Assembly, external speaker John Buchley informed the audience on the subject of emissions and gave a prognosis of the future development of CO2 emissions; he also introduced British and international initiatives. The lecture was followed by an extensive discussion.
Martin Roth, Federal German Association of the Brick and Tile Industry, invited the branch to the next TBE General Assembly 2009 in Germany. The meeting will take place from 21st to 23rd October during the next ceramitec in Munich. The programme will also schedule a visit to the exhibition, including a programme of lectures. Cultural highlights will be the Bavarian Evening and a gala dinner in the BMW Museum.
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