A leading Rustenburg-based block-making company recently acquired an additional two Birkenmayer block-making machines facilitating its production capacity increase to 13 million bricks a month. The significance of this is that the 32-year-old company, Cemblocks (Pty) Ltd, has only ever used Birkenmayer machinery and attributes its success, in part, to Birkenmayer’s quality equipment, professional installation, support, advice and machine spare parts availability.

Cemblocks, which supplies leading national contractors and retailers within the greater Rustenburg area, opened its doors in 1981 and decided on Birkenmayer as preferred supplier based on contractor word of mouth only. Three decades later and several Birkenmayer block-making plants, the company is recognised as one of the leading block manufacturers in the North West Province. Their current equipment comprises a VB1, purchased when the company began production, a VB4, two VB5 block-making machines and one VB6. The significance of the company’s expansion using only Birkenmayer equipment and services bears testimony to the reliability and durability of Birkenmayer machinery, while professional advice and OEM spares add to the equation.

“The VB1 purchased in ’81 is a mechanical miracle,” says Cemblocks CEO Francois Alberts. “Birkenmayer assisted with the plant assembly and we feel this a key contributing factor to their equipment’s durability – correct procedures from installation through the entire process up to initiating production.” He says the plant operated on 24-hour shifts for many years and that its lifespan in combined shifts amounts to approximately four decades. “Despite its age the plant continuously delivers 1 500 pallets of product per day in 9 hour shifts and we have only had to replace the PLC once,” emphasises Alberts.

“An endorsement of this nature,” comments Birkenmayer’s Monika Howarth, “proves the durability, reliability and consistency of Birkenmayer brick- and block-making machinery and parts.” She says that once a Birkenmayer plant is installed it is very seldom replaced due to production challenges. “More often than not the plant changes hands as company ownership changes, but machine durability ensures ongoing production.”

Reinforcing Birkenmayer’s equipment production potential, Alberts points out that when Rustenburg’s Midtown Mall was built in the mid-80s, Cemblocks supplied the only contractor with all their brick requirements making use of only one VB1 block-maker over 24-hour shifts. “In our 32 year history we have seen many other plants producing other suppliers’ products and spoken to numerous brick and block producers’ owners and senior executives. Our own experience, reinforced by these opinions, means we can say without fear of contradiction that Birkenmayer has contributed to Cemblocks growth through its equipment, guidance, support and parts availability,” Alberts expresses.

The company’s product range comprises solid large blocks, maxis, stock bricks, several paving products, retaining wall blocks and Rock Face bricks. Cemblocks also manufactures tailor-made products on request. Although 1 200 tons of material is used to produce the daily production average of between 1 200 and 1 600 pallets per shift, Birkenmayer’s equipment versatility means Cemblocks can produce normal daily requirements of a particular product on any one of the Birkenmayer plants. This results in far fewer mould changes and ultimately increased uptime.

The Birkenmayer range of brick- and block-making machines was re-branded several years ago from ‘VB’ to ‘HB’ to steer away from competitor branding. “Aside from design upgrades and changes in pallet sizes there are no significant changes to our range,” Howarth explains. “Clients can rest assured that regardless of model name or class, our block-making machinery is as reliable as it has been for over 30 years.”