Author Archive Webmaster MGS

ByWebmaster MGS

Manifesto: The Strategic Importance of raw materials and natural resources in the manufacturing industry

The economic landscape has undergone significant changes in recent years. The disruption of globalized supply chains due to the pandemic and geopolitical tensions, along with the climate crisis and the necessity for a more environmentally friendly and sustainable development, have led to questions about the availability of raw materials and natural resources, their sourcing reliability, and their management.

This was the focus of the recent MEDEF Centre-Val de Loire conference on “The Strategic Importance of Raw Materials and Natural Resources,” which included a roundtable discussion with industry leaders including Christophe Webel, CEO of Trigano Remorques, Christian Bodin, Regional Director of Groupe Roger Martin, and Hervé Gaboriau, Director of Pôle DREAM Eau & Milieux and Jean-Luc Lesage, CEO of IFB REFRACTORIES.

During the conference, the CEO of IFB Refractories shared the company’s vision and strategy, highlighting several key points:


1. Awareness

IFB Refractories is a company that specializes in manufacturing Insulating Fire Bricks. It uses natural raw materials such as refractory clays mixed with sawdust, an organic filler from the local circular economy, and water to shape bricks, which are then fired at high temperatures in gas-heated kilns. These products are used in high-temperature processes for producing aluminum, glass, cement, lime, ceramics, and other materials. They provide thermal insulation for many years, resulting in improved energy savings. With a core activity based on the transformation of natural raw materials and by serving other materials industries, IFB Refractories has a deep understanding of the strategic importance of natural resources and the absolute necessity of managing them properly and effectively. Also, running its own quarry provides a sense of reliability in sourcing key raw materials, but it also creates an acute awareness that the sustainability of the business is linked to the efficient usage of this resource.


2. History

IFB Refractories was founded in 1919 in the Centre-Val de Loire Region. At that time, transportation, energy, and water resources were less abundant than today. Therefore, the plant was located near the required natural raw materials, which were the refractory clay basin of Limoges and oak tree forests, thereby eliminating the need for long supply chains. To compensate for limited water resources, raw materials were stored outside for weeks to capture as much rainwater as possible, reducing the use of piped water. Additionally, the company used time to reduce the amount of necessary energy by letting the batches rest for a certain time before shaping the bricks. This process provided the necessary homogeneity and particle cohesion to avoid high-energy mixing. As a labeled living heritage company, IFB Refractories has remained loyal to its historical processes, which are continuously fine-tuned to preserve materials, water, and energy. In a sense, the company has been involved in Corporate Social Responsibility since its inception.


3. Best practices

At IFB Refractories, recycling has been elevated to the status of an industrial religion. It has been incorporated into all internal processes, such as the shaping step, which can ultimately process 100% of the raw material without losses. At the machining step, dust is carefully collected to be reintroduced into the mixture batch, reducing the amount of required raw materials. During the final quality check, products rejected due to aesthetic flaws are re-machined into smaller shapes to avoid unnecessary material losses. Ultimately, non-sellable products are ground for other uses, such as manufacturing insulating concretes and cements. Over the years, these best practices have been reinforced with continuous improvement methods like “LEAN” and “KAIZEN” and embedded in the Corporate Social Responsibility strategy.


4. Innovation

IFB Refractories has its own laboratory and research team. Given the size of the company, incremental research is favored. Research projects cover different topics, such as increasing insulation performance or compatibility with new and reinforced specifications. Recycling also remains an important innovation topic. For example, we are currently exploring new possibilities for external recycling and innovative ways to valorize rejected materials.


5. Communication

As a medium-sized company, IFB Refractories offers to all employees first-hand experiences with various crucial aspects of the industrial life. For instance, successfully recycling more raw materials or, on the contrary, having to switch to pipe water when the rainwater reserve runs dry are concrete examples of daily shopfloor actions linked to our efforts to contribute to a more sustainable future. Although key performance indicators are essential for long-term improvement and official certifications, they also provide solid evidence of our dedication to more sustainability. As an example, over the last 2 years IFB REFRACTORIES has reduced its water consumption year-over-year by 15% and its energy consumption by 22%, while increasing its internal recycling at a level of 68%.
This instils confidence in loyal clients who prioritize environmentally-friendly, 100% made in France products over cheaper and non-sustainable alternatives.

ByWebmaster MGS

Transformation investment to the future industry at IFB Refractories

This project was financed by the Government as part of the Recovery Plan and by the European Union as part of NextGenerationEU

See the document

ByWebmaster MGS

IFB awarded Top International Company

IFB REFRACTORIES is awarded in the Top International companies category, in an event organized by La Nouvelle République and CCI Indre.

With 85% of the production being exported out of France, IFB REFRACTORIES keeps growing internationally, while remaining attached to its local heritage.

Watch the following video to learn more about our vision.

ByWebmaster MGS

Energy Saving initiatives

As a historical European reference for insulating fire bricks, IFB REFRACTORIES helps its customers to reduce their energy consumption and C02 emissions in their high temperature processes.

However, the refractory industry remains energy-intensive. Bricks need to be fired at very high temperatures (between 1000°C and 1500°C). Efforts must continuously be made to reduce energy consumption in the manufacturing processes.

Historically IFB REFRACTORIES, was created at a time when energy was not easily accessible. Our manufacturing process was therefore designed to save as much energy as possible. The use of saw dust from oak trees as the organic filler is the best example. It allows our bricks to spontaneously fire at the entrance of our kilns. This helps reaching the required high temperature from the start of the firing process.

Other steps to continuously improve the energy consumption in the process include better insulation, process control and enhanced adoption of eco-friendly practices. This led to a Year-to-Year reduction of our global energy consumption to a double-digit level per ton produced.

These results show that efforts pay off and encourage us to keep improving further.

ByWebmaster MGS

Resource Efficient Manufacturing and Circular Economy

IFB REFRACTORIES was founded more than a century ago. At that time, resources were not as easily available as today and transportation costs were very high. This explains why the factory is located in the center of France, close to refractory clays resources and where saw dust from oak trees is abundant.

As a living Heritage labelled company, IFB REFRACTORIES has remained loyal to the principles of resource-efficiency management, which structure the entire manufacturing processes.

Internal recycling has always been a major focus. 63.5% of internal rejections are reincorporated into the production process for new products. These rejections concern mainly the external aspect of the products and don’t affect the intrinsic quality of the products at all. The rest waste is carefully sorted out to fill our old queries. In the meantime, our R&D team works hard on the development of new valorizations for these rejections as well.

In terms of volume saw dust is the biggest part of our raw materials. The sawdust is incorporated in our mixtures to create the porosity of our insulation bricks. Saw dust is sourced from local sawmills, which produce different goods from local oaks, such as barrels for the wine or spirits. This saw dust is precisely calibrated to monitor the required porosity. The residual dust is then further grinded until the grains reach the right size to be processed. The final dust that cannot be processed is sold to cattle brewers ensuring 100% valorization of this key resource.

The future challenges are linked to external recycling at the end of life of the products. A complicated issue as it requires extremely precised sorting. IFB REFRACTORIES started to tackle the topic by starting with a specific raw material which could be incorporated in the near future.

We will keep you posted on the progress…


ByWebmaster MGS

Ecovadis Silver Medal Award – WATER savings (¼)

In the last 2 years IFB teams succeeded to save 32% of water per ton produced. How did we do ? The following article presents our water consumption reduction strategy.

Insulating Fire Bricks are mostly made of refractory clays with a high content of silica and alumina. An organic filler like saw dust is added. It will disappear at firing to create the porosity of the brick. Finally water is added to the mixture.

In the insulating fire bricks manufacturing process, water allows to set the right level of humidity for the mixture. Humidity acts as a natural binder between the different particles required for the mixture. It will also provide the needed plasticity to shape the bricks in a precise and repetitive way. A little bit further in the process, during the drying phase, water will be carefully removed from the bricks. This will enable the proper high temperature firing. No water is used at any other step in the process. Therefore no industrially polluted water is released from the factory.

Being a century old Living Heritage Company, IFB REFRACTORIES has inherited its processes from a time when resources were scarcer. This results in today’s healthy foundations for resource-efficient manufacturing.

For example, our key raw materials spend a long time outdoors to naturally absorb a high level of humidity from rainwater. This allows only the minimum amount of water to be added during manufacture.

Healthy foundations are key, but must be coupled with optimisations along the whole manufacturing process. Yield, dimension and quality Improvements, along with regular monitoring lead to substantial water consumption savings in the manufacturing process.

On top, rainwater is collected from our roofs to further reduce the consumption of running water. Other important projects are also underway to keep improving. This is probably just a drop in the ocean at worldwide scale, but a significant contribution at local level.

Get in touch if you want to know more about our bricks

ByWebmaster MGS

Ecovadis – Silver Medal Award

The IFB REFRACTORIES team is proud to announce that we have been awarded the ECOVADIS Silver Medal.

ECOVADIS is a globally recognized platform assessing CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) performances of more than 85,000 organisations in the world.
This label is a great reward for all the hard work done by our teams. It also reinforces our commitment to keeping growing as a responsible industrial player and trusted business partner.

Thanks to its rich history and French Living Heritage status, IFB Refractories will always keep a special relationship with its region and pay particular attention to environmental topics.

In the coming weeks, the different actions taken to be awarded this medal will be presented in more detail. Stay tuned

ByWebmaster MGS

IFB historical know-how is rewarded

The IFB REFRACTORIES team is honoured to receive the TotalEnergies trophy, rewarding IFB historical know-how and development perspectives.

The ceremony took place during the last Réseau Entreprendre Loire Vallée awards ceremony at Château de Chenonceau.

Special thanks to Annick Noble from TotalEnergies and the Réseau Entreprendre Loire Vallée team for this outstanding evening!

ByWebmaster MGS

At IFB REFRACTORIES, we care for local sourcing and short supply chains

Proximity is a big deal when it comes to reliable supply chains. Geopolitical tensions, lockdowns, congestion, and shortages of goods or transportation are all very frequent disruptive events, which lead to unreliable deliveries and delays.

At IFB REFRACTORIES, we have a long tradition of working with local suppliers to ensure short and effective supply chains.

More than 50% of our raw materials are sourced locally and 95% of them travel less than 500km.
This is part of our Living Heritage and explains why we are located in the middle of France since 1919.
Over time, this local sourcing strategy has been further strengthened with selected and long term suppliers.
Today it results in :
–       Less carbon footprint
–       Stabler quality
–       And reliable supply

Get in touch with us to know more

ByWebmaster MGS

Automation and modernisation of the production tool of IFB Refractories

Period of execution :

22/07/2019 – 30/06/2022

Investment amount:


EU financial support :


Project description :

This project of modernisation and automation of the production tool is co-financed by the European Regional Development Fund (FEDER) and aims to maintain industrial jobs in the Centre- Val de Loire region. The investments aim to improve the competitiveness of the IFB Refractories company, to reinforce the quality of production, to reduce energy consumption and the associated carbon footprint as well as to increase the recycling rate of the raw materials used.