Energy efficient brick manufacture, Brickworks Wollert plant

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For the past two years, the Austral Bricks Wollert West brick and paving plant has been rolling out bricks more efficiently than any other plant in Australia.

Adjoining the Wollert East plant which has been in operation since 2006, the combined plants have exceeded design specifications, reducing waste, cost, energy use and emissions over conventional brick plants.

The Austral Bricks factory is one of the largest, most modern and efficient brick plants, supported by massive onsite reserves of shale. It operates 24/7, with a small number of staff per shift helped by robots to produce 170 million bricks per year. This works out to enough bricks to build more than 24,000 typical Melbourne homes. Careful planning and technological advances mean the operation of the brick plant has a low impact on the environment. The kiln is fuelled by natural gas and the plant uses about one third less fuel than our previous Victorian plants.

Electricity consumption is also significantly reduced, due to the replacement of large hydraulic power-packs with highly efficient variable frequency electric drives, which use only the power required to do the job. This also eliminates the use of hydraulic oil and the need to safely dispose of hundreds of litres of oil per year.

Water management is a priority too, and the site has been self-sufficient in water for many years. Runoff water is captured from roofs and in quarries and stored in deep reservoirs on the site. The water is reused in the brick making process.

Together, these innovations deliver a double return: a more efficient and profitable plant for Austral Bricks, and a cleaner environment for all Australians.