Brick producer Vandersanden installed a new packaging line at its facility in Bilzen, Belgium to further enhance quality and improve customer service, transport efficiency and safety. The project involved carrying out complex renovation work at the production facility, all the more challenging since production activities needed to continue at the same time. “I was pleasantly surprised to find a company delivering flawlessly.”
Constructing while production continues 24/7
A family business for over 90 years, Vandersanden produces facing bricks, façade solutions and pavers at various production locations in Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany. With a network of sales offices across five European countries, the company has become the largest brick-producing family business in Europe, employing 650 people and producing 500 million bricks per year.
New packaging line calls for renovation
The company’s headquarters and prime production facility are both in Spouwen-Bilzen, Belgium, and the facility is continuously updated to meet changing market trends. The most recent adaptation concerns the installation of a new packaging line to improve customer service and transport efficiency and safety. Maikel Duchateau, the site’s Technical Manager, explains: “An additional step was introduced in the brick production process involving a finishing treatment to improve quality. With that, a new packaging line was developed to allow bricks to be mixed to homogenize delivery to our customers. It also involved improving the stability of the packs and the effectiveness of the truck loading procedure, an important safety gain.”
Production continuity complicates the project
Installation of the new packaging line required Vandersanden to thoroughly reorganize and renovate its facility. Duchateau elaborates: “It was a rather complicated project for several reasons. The new machine needed to be installed within the existing building perimeter due to lack of available space at the site. We decided to locate it on a structure above a storage space which is a receiving area for bricks. This meant we had to increase the building’s height by approximately two metres while allowing 24/7 production to continue below. Production continuity also made for very limited manoeuvring space around the building, given that trucks must be able to pass by constantly. The presence of several large gates in the building as well as a 10kV high-voltage line and a gas pipeline in close proximity further complicated the project. And construction was scheduled to happen between December and April, with high risk of unfavourable weather conditions.”
They described exactly how they would build a new structure around and on top of the existing building before dismantling its roof
A workable plan
Duchateau contacted no fewer than seven construction companies for the job and found that only one had a convincing proposal. “Most of the proposals I saw involved too many uncertainties for me. But TCS had developed a comprehensive plan, describing exactly how they would build a new structure around and on top of the existing building before dismantling its roof. They also proposed to install an overhead crane which during the project would be used for construction activities and later serve as a maintenance crane. Detailed construction scenarios convinced me that it was a workable plan.”
And workable it was. “They started just before Christmas and delivered in the first week of April. Consistently I was pleasantly surprised by their proactive attitude, identifying potential issues or difficulties before they became problems. They were flexible too. I remember them even working at temperatures around -10°C. Remarkable.”
- 1340 m² area (46 m x 22.44/31.4 m)
- 15,400 m³
- 90 tonnes of steel
- 2-tonnes single-beam overhead crane
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