Author Archive Webmaster MGS

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:

€474,588

EU financial support :

€193,500

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.

ByWebmaster MGS

IFB Refractories plays the carbon neutrality card

Buzançais – The company specialising in insulating firebricks and awarded the Living Heritage Company label wants to capitalise on its century-old know-how and the 100% made in France card to conquer new markets, while becoming a major player in the objective of carbon neutrality by 2050. “Due to European deindustrialisation, IFB is one of the last four or five European producers of insulating firebricks in the face of essentially Chinese or Turkish competition. Today, the climate challenges and the health crisis have made aware many countries and industrialists, willing to save energy and reduce their carbon footprint, that a return to European supplies of insulation products is necessary. We therefore have a very good card to play in very buoyant markets (Western Europe, the Balkans, North Africa), especially as France has clay soils that allows this very special production“, explains Jean-Luc Lesage, an engineer who became head of IFB Refractories on 31 August last year after having spent his entire career within the Saint-Gobain Group.

The products in the range of firebricks (notably those made of sawdust from hardwoods from sawmills around Buzançais, mixed with clay) or other insulating pieces are just as attractive from a technical point of view for large industrialists (Rockwool, Rio Tinto, Corning, etc.) as they are from an environmental point of view for the very top-of-the-range companies (Cristallerie Daum…).

IFB Refractories’ ambitious objective is fully in line with the desire of the highest authorities to relaunch industrial production in France. Discussions have therefore been initiated with the Centre-Val de Loire Region to acquire new machines as part of the Relaunch Plan, in order to support the developments hoped for within the next 3 to 5 years.

Article published in “Commerce et Industrie de L’Indre” in which our president Jean-Luc Lesage (on the right) talks about environmental issues for European industry. (January 2021)
ByWebmaster MGS

IFB Refractories is «EPV», Living Heritage Company

We are proud to be part of the EPV, Entreprise du Patrimoine-vivant, in France.

Entreprise du Patrimoine vivant (Living Heritage Company) is an official French label issued under the authority of the Ministry of Economy and Finance, to distinguish French companies with craft and industrial know-how judged to be of excellence. In the face of global competition and trade globalisation, recognition of “made in France” can sometimes be difficult. In order to simplify the identification of craftsmen and industries mastering rare skills, the EPV label was created under the aegis of the public authorities and is based on a very rigorous selection procedure, its aim being to highlight the high technicality, creativity or cultural significance of manufacturing activity. IFB is a company that has existed since 1928, manufacturing products with the quality of 100% made in France using natural and local raw materials and exporting 85 % of its production.

Click below to find out more
https://www.lanouvellerepublique.fr/indre/ifb-refractories-est-un-patrimoine-vivant