Visiting Florim’s ceramic tile factory in Italy
Last year architect Kirsten Stewart was invited by Ora Ceramics to visit the Florim headquarters and factory in Modena, Italy. It was an insightful trip, rewarding her with a detailed understanding of the product and manufacturing processes. Kirsten gave a presentation on what she learnt, allowing us all to better understand the journey from dust to tile.
Modena, Italy, is an area renown for tile manufacturing with some 300 different companies based there - Florim is one of the largest ceramic tile factories in this area.
They offer tiles for a variety of uses, projects and markets. The largest tile they produce is the magnum wall and floor tile, which is available in an extremely large format with sizes up to 1600 x 3200mm - huge! During our visit the Florim team demonstrated how this tile size is handled, which is similar to large sheets of glazing, with four men required to lift the tiles in to place.
Having seen bicycles parked all around the factory, we were amused to discover that because the factory is so large, the team ride them to get from one side of the factory to the other.
All the water used in the factory is recycled, cleaned, and reused on site. The majority of the factory processes are carried out by machines and robots, which transport materials around the factory; except the last process – the visual inspection – which can only be done by human eye in order to check for imperfections on each tile. Those carrying out this job are only able to do so for 30 minutes at a time, before they have to switch and take a break.
The impressive vertical warehouse used for storing tiles ahead of transportation, cost 14 million euros to build, and stores 35,000 palettes at any one time – which is however, only a relatively small part of the factory.