Belite Ceramics, SACMI completes the first 4.0 ‘virtual start-up’
Working alongside the customer, we’ve successfully dealt with an unprecedented challenge: the remote start-up of a complete, automated line. Now, thanks to this new SACMI plant, Belite can think big and produce innovative top-of-the-range products
At the end of 2019 Chinese firm Belite already had all the machines on site, ready to be installed and started up by SACMI technicians. Then came the health emergency, quarantining the entire country and preventing the Italian teams from getting there. Hence the challenge of performing a fully remote installation and start-up of an entire plant, one of China's most advanced in terms of automation, technology and digitization.
Today came the announcement that the first white body wall tiles - products of outstanding added value - and glazed porcelain tiles have started coming off the new up-and-running production lines. SACMI, after standing shoulder to shoulder with customers all over the world ever since the earliest stages of the health emergency, has now proven it's ready for the post-COVID phase, when virtual assistance will be an increasingly essential element during the design, start-up and after-sale phases.
In practice, the start-up was managed by training local SACMI Nanhai technicians. For certain machine types, a training course managed by the parent company’s personnel - working via the web with the local tech team and the customer - was organised. The result? An undeniable success, as highlighted by the call SACMI Nanhai recently received from the CEO of Belite, Mr. Deng, who expressed his "complete satisfaction with the results achieved".
"Our ambition", points out Mr. Deng, "is to combine the best available technology with the most efficient organisation. That's the main reason why we chose SACMI, the world's number one supplier to the ceramic industry, for our new 4.0 factory".
More specifically, the order includes two complete, highly automated wall and floor tile production lines. These start with the body preparation department (consisting of two continuous modular grinding mills that receive raw materials from an automatic feed system) and two SACMI spray dryers. Downstream, there are no less than five presses, produced by SACMI directly in China according to local manufacturers’ requirements, plus two horizontal dryers and INTESA digital decoration units.
Style and performance form the bedrock of Belite's strategy, hence their decision to equip the firing department with two latest-generation SACMI two-channel kilns in the latest 'design' configuration.
Equally important is the end-of-line equipment. This includes five sorting lines, complete with vision system, and LGVs to pick the finished pallets, a choice that makes Belite one of China's pioneers in terms of total factory automation. The entire plant has also been designed to be managed via the new SACMI HERE software, which features advanced monitoring, maintenance management and order scheduling functions.
Thanks to this all-new SACMI plant, Belite, until now a major supplier of foreign brands, aims to give its own brand a boost by focusing on the medium-to-high-end of the sector. From this viewpoint, the customer is one of just a handful in China equipped to produce the stylish white body wall tiles that are the jewel in the crown of Belite's new product range.