Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS



Project ID: 672390

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - SLIGHT GRANULATION (SLIGHT GRANULATION process reducing Water consumption in ceramic tiles industry)

Reporting period: 2015-06-01 to 2015-11-30

Summary of the context and overall objectives of the project

The overall objective of SLIGHT GRANULATION project is to validate on the market an innovative production process, reducing both the use of water in ceramic industrial processes and the energy consumption. The new process will address a specific phase of ceramic tiles production chain (i.e. granulation), reducing by 40% the use of water and completely cutting off the energy consumption in this phase.
To achieve this ambitious objective, Manfredini e Schianchi (in the following M&S) has defined an overall innovation plan, split into three main project pillars:
1. Technology evolution. The purpose of this task will be to analyse technology readiness for the innovative SLIGHT GRANULATION process and implement the required actions, in terms of technological evolution of the pilot plant: functional specification of the plant, identification and design of plant items, technology development of required improvements.
2. Market readiness and marketing and sales plan. This activity will define and early implement the marketing and sales plan supporting the market deployment of SLIGHT GRANULATION process and to execute the required market actions to achieve the proper awareness targets.
3. Industrial scale plant. Set up an industrial scale plants, aiming at testing the SLIGHT GRANULATION process on real use cases, starting form operational environment and requirements. As second step, this phase will address test and results analysis on operational deployment of SLIGHT GRANULATION processes;
In order to achieve these objectives, M&S carried out a feasibility study (supported by EC through SME instrument ph1.) in the period June 2015-November 2015. The feasibility study had the following objectives:
1. Lead an extensive market analysis on potential markets addressed by Manfredini and Schianchi.
2. Laboratory test aiming at demonstrating (in pilot environment) the features of the new process, replicating working parameters of industrial processes;
3. Addressing of IPR activities aimed at scouting the opportunity for an international extension of the patent.

Work performed from the beginning of the project to the end of the period covered by the report and main results achieved so far

The feasibility study was aimed at obtaining direct feedback from potential users, before starting the full industrialization of the process. Following table summarise main conclusion of the study, according to the objectives defined in Project proposal:
Main results achieved were:
Preliminary business plan
- Identification of market drivers and definition of three market segments for initial product commercialization
- Identification of first panel of potential customers
- Preliminary P&L account defined and related financial performances defined
- Definition of timing and go to market strategy
- Definition of preliminary P&L and sales forecasts

Market validation
- Identification of customer needs and requirements and identification of current alternative solutions;
- Collection of preliminary customers feedback and information on energy, water and gas consumption;
- Technology validated in lab environment, with excellent results that need to be validated in industrial pilots;
- Identification of potential partners for the innovation project (set up of pilot line at industrial site)
- Application filed and first positive feedback received by WIPO

Progress beyond the state of the art and expected potential impact (including the socio-economic impact and the wider societal implications of the project so far)

Main societal implications of Slight Granulation project refer to the (positive) environmental impact that the solution may bring to ceramic industries, allowing for strong water and energy saving.
Actually, water is used in virtually all ceramic processes and for different purposes: basically, as a raw material for the body and its preparation, as a raw material for glazes, as a washing fluid and as a cooling medium. As regards energy consumption, the primary energy use in ceramic manufacturing is for kiln firing and, in many processes, drying of intermediates or shaped ware is also energy intensive. Spry dry units are a further part of the plant with high energy consumption, since is the phase of the process where the slip needs to be dried from 40% humidity down to 7%. Plants and machineries used for the comminution and mixing of raw materials, and the forming of ware, require electrical energy.
The SLIGHT GRANULATION innovative process aims at completely replacing the current traditional granulation process in the ceramic and non ceramic industry. According to the raw material available, the new system will eliminate the existing performance gap still present in those circumstances in which the old traditional atomization system provides substantial advantages. There will be, as a consequence, obvious savings in terms of energy consumption and environmental impact. In a nutshell, thanks to the innovation process, the ceramic tiles producers will be able to combine ease of handling of granular particles in the stages of flat forming in the ceramic process, typical of the atomizing system, with the increasing necessity of energy saving.
M&S received excellent feedback from the market: potential customers are aware that strong interventions are needed to reduce the use of water in ceramic process, that implies of course, reduction in energy use and this costs. Companies identified in better plants and in continuous monitoring of environmental indicators the main solutions to solve the problems they are currently facing. In this view, Slight Granulation perfectly fits with market requirements identified so far.

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