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Sacmi completes the first 4.0 ‘virtual start-up’ at Belite Ceramics

Sacmi has successfully dealt with the unprecedented challenge of its first remote start-up of a complete, automated line, which has started production at Belite Ceramics, in China

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, preventing the Italian teams from travelling to China. Hence the challenge of performing a fully remote installation and start-up of an entire plant.

In May, 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.

In practice, the start-up was managed by training local Sacmi Nanhai technicians. For certain machine types, a training course managed by the Italian parent company’s personnel - working via the web with the local tech team and Belite - was organised. The result is an undeniable success, as confirmed to Sacmi Nanhai by the CEO of Belite, Mr. Deng, who expressed his "complete satisfaction with the results achieved". "Our ambition", pointed 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".

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.

  • The plant

Thanks to this all-new 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 market. From this viewpoint, the company 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.

The new line stands out as one of China's most advanced in terms of automation, technology and digitization.

More specifically, the order included 2 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 2 Sacmi spray dryers.

Downstream, there are no less than 5 presses, produced by SACMI directly in China according to local manufacturers’ requirements, plus 2 horizontal dryers and Intesa digital decoration units. For the firing department, Belite chose 2 latest-generation two-channel kilns in the latest 'design' configuration, which combines style and performance.

Equally important is the end-of-line equipment. This includes 5 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.