Roca has launched a project, financed by the European Union within the LIFE+ program, to develop a more environmentally friendly technology for forming ceramic sanitary ware through isostatic pressing as an alternative to traditional production methods.
With this project, Roca aims to revolutionize ceramic sanitary ware production by developing more efficient methods that use water and energy resources more sustainably and rationally to generate a high quality product, while reducing the level of waste generated.
In the 1960’s, Roca solidified its commitment to the environment by developing and implementing new technologies to minimize water and energy consumption. Today, sustainability is one of the values that represent the company thanks to sustainable practices and environmental management being a part of its manufacturing processes and products.
In line with this philosophy, Roca has initiated the LIFE12 ENV/ES/000598 project (acronym LIFE ENVIP) within the LIFE + program, a tool of the European Union dedicated to the environment for the 2007-2013 period.
The project aims to develop a new, more efficient and environmentally friendly technology for manufacturing sanitary ware through isostatic pressing. The project involves designing and building a pre-industrial-scale prototype facility to demonstrate the feasibility and efficiency of this process in manufacturing sanitary ware.
The idea of applying isostatic pressing to manufacturing sanitary ware comes from a general study on forming systems used in different industrial ceramic sectors. Research revealed the feasibility of applying isostatic pressing to the manufacturing of sanitary ware as this system is cheaper than pressure slip casting and can produce thinner and thus lighter sanitary pieces. In addition, it contributes to water and energy conservation and reduces the amount of waste.
The main objectives of this initiative are:
· Reduce the consumption of water used in the pressure slip casting forming process.
· Reduce the volume of wastewater and solid waste, energy consumption and CO2 emissions.
· Confirm that isostatic pressing can be used to manufacture sanitary pieces of different shapes and sizes and demonstrate projected savings.
MILESTONES IN THE LIFE ENVIP PROJECT
July 2013: The first phase of the LIFE ENVIP project begins after the kickoff meeting, with the design of the pre-industrial scale basic structure of the prototype facility to allow sanitaryware parts to be shaped by isostatic pressing.
November 2013: Construction begins on the prototype plant’s components and machinery. At the same time, the design of the first part of this LIFE ENVIP project is chosen and work starts on the plans and on the development of the mould.
February to May 2014: As part of the promotional campaign, a series of actions and talks are carried out to publicise LIFE ENVIP and its expected results. The venues include:
21 February: Roca Barcelona Gallery
7 March: Roca London Gallery
13 March: Roca Lisboa Gallery
6 May: Roca Madrid Gallery
The Roca Galleries, which host a wide range of activities associated with the Roca organisation and its involvement in society, are the best platform for promoting the LIFE ENVIP project, given the amount of visits they receive from specialists in ceramics, architecture and the environment, in addition to consumers in general.
May 2014: Start-up of the conversion and foundation works at the Roca factory building in Gavà-Viladecans (Barcelona), required for housing the prototype.
September 2014: The first parts of the LIFE ENVIP isostatic press project are made at the supplier’s facilities prior to approval of the press and the first mould. The result meets all the quality criteria stipulated by Roca for its sanitaryware products.
October 2014: Commencement of installation and start-up of the prototype facility at the Roca factory in Gavà-Viladecans (Barcelona).
December 2014: Four further parts are chosen and designed for this new technology for manufacturing sanitaryware by isostatic pressing.
January 2015: Completion of Phase One of the facility, which begins working on a manual basis with the Unik Victoria 800 mould, to carry out the planned programme of tests, including enamelling and firing.
February 2015: The last two parts in the collection contemplated in the LIFE ENVIP project preliminary report are chosen. Together, all these parts, with their different shapes and sizes, will permit complete development of this technology, as applied to vitreous china sanitaryware products.
February 2015: Design of the part of the prototype facility for the automated robotic finishing of the parts is completed, pending the definitive modifications to the design of the tools.
April 2015: Conclusion of solving the problems in the start-up of the press and mould. Commencement of continuous obtaining of parts with manual demoulding and finishing.
April 2015: Definition, with practical testing at the supplier, of the final specifications of the tools for the parts’ automated finishing facility.
May 2015: Empirical testing begins of data relating to the different kinds of benefits comprising the initial goals indicated in the LIFE ENVIP project report.
May 2015: Testing at the supplier’s facilities of the tools designed for the automated robotic finishing facility, with Unik Victoria 800 parts.
July 2015: Installation of the automated robotic finishing facility is commenced.
September 2015: The first Unik Victoria 800 part prototypes are obtained with the automated robotic finishing facility working continuously.
October 2015: The automated finishing facility is used to develop differently sized and shaped variants of the Unik Victoria 800 part.
November 2015: The new table is installed and some of the automated finishing facility’s finishing tools are modified in the light of prior experience.
November 2015: The mould for the Unik Prisma 800 part is installed in the press and the first prototypes are obtained. Finishing of the parts is performed automatically in the robotic facility.
December 2015: The mould for the Pan Basic part (the project’s fourth) will be installed in the press. Finishing will be performed in the automated robotic facility, suitably adapted.
1 December 2015