Regardless of the kiln you are planning to invest in, you will ideally want to find a balance between size, budget and access. However, you will also want to take into consideration the following 6 factors to help you make an informed purchasing decision.
1) Type Of Product
Kilns are used by a number of industries to create a variety of products, the specific needs of your product will affect your choice of kiln. Continuous and Batch kilns are used throughout the industry i.e. ceramics, heavy clay, sanitary ware, bone china, glassware, steel industry, industrial and technical ceramics. It is important to invest in a kiln that is purpose designed for the product you are manufacturing.
2) The Temperature Range
The temperature range you require will depend on those products you wish to fire. If you are planning to fire ceramics, for example, you’ll require a kiln capable of reaching temperatures of between 950-1300 degrees C, also some items may require multiple firings. Other items may require firing temperatures of up to 1800 degrees C, however it’s important to mention that the temperature capability of your kiln will only be one factor, you’ll also need to consider oxygen levels, and firing cycles.
3) Do You Need An Intermittent Or Continuous Kiln?
An important factor in making the right decision on kiln choice will be whether to invest in an intermittent or continuous kiln. There are advantages to each type, but ultimately the choice comes down to your production volumes. If you only need small batches you should consider an intermittent kiln. However, these use more fuel than continuous kilns, so for mass-produced products a continuous kiln is more cost-effective. Please refer to the previous section for explanations of the different types of kiln available within each category.
4) The Firing Cycle
The firing cycle you will require your kiln to achieve will depend on your product, some items may require a longer firing cycle than others. The aim is to achieve the fastest and most efficient firing cycle, while maintaining high quality and minimising wastage. Your product dictates certain firing conditions, beyond which it is a false economy to try and shorten the cycle. To achieve optimum firing cycles and get the best value for money you should always use modern, well maintained equipment. With the right equipment and control systems – such as enforced cooling – it is possible to reduce your firing cycles. Please get in touch to chat with us about the best solutions for your industry and product.
5) Your Production Volume
The volume of products you plan to fire is another factor which will determine the type of kiln you choose. With firing to order becoming standard practice in the industry, it is common for different products to be included on the same car.. For all kiln types, you’ll need to consider the total number of products you can fire over a pre-determined period of time. In mixed batches the firing cycle is determined by the most difficult product – the one that needs the highest temperature and the longest time. The risk is that other, more sensitive or shorter firing products suffer as a result. The most cost effective investment is to buy a kiln that strikes a balance between these factors: that lets you maximise mixed batch volumes without risk to some of the products. We always advise businesses to start their search for a kiln with an understanding of their different product firing cycles and the required volumes, rather than trying to ‘make do’ with whatever equipment they have available.
6) Practical Factors
There are several practical factors to consider when investing in a new kiln. These are the questions to address:
How much space have you got in your premises?
It is important to take into account the position of the kiln/furnace making sure you have enough space for personal to carry out their duties and for maintenance. Access is another important consideration for the installation, also building height and mains gas and electrical supply.
What environmental factors and legislation do you need to comply with?
Each industry is subject to rules on fuel emissions, pollution risks and energy efficiency standards. Please check that your kiln ensures compliance with all current legislation.
Do you need planning permission?
If the kiln involves building a new chimney then you may need planning consent before you install the kiln. Check with your local authority and kiln manufacturer for clarification before purchase.
What are your fuel requirements?
Do you have sufficient fuel volumes and storage space to accommodate your new kiln? If gas operated, is this available in the sufficient volumes and pressure?
What is your required delivery timescale?
Think about when you need the new kiln and how this fits in with your current production targets. What transitional arrangements (if any) do you need to put in place to cover production while the new equipment is installed and old kilns removed?
Does the kiln allow for future expansion?
Your production requirements and even the products you make are likely to change over time. How adaptable is your new kiln to accommodate expanded production targets and new products? Plan your investment not for where your business is today, but for where it plans to be in five or ten years’ time, taking into account potentially unforeseen circumstances. Be optimistic don’t buy a kiln that is too small without thinking about future expansion/flexibility.
Although finding the right kiln can be a daunting task, taking the time to carefully consider the above factors will ensure you get the most benefit from the kiln you choose. At Therser we have experience in designing, manufacturing and installing hundreds of kilns to suit all industries - download our FREE buyer's guide to Industrial Kilns & Furnaces. Give us a call and let’s chat about the options that work best for you.