In India, brick making is a labour intensive activity, and while machines are used to combine the raw material and make bricks, manual labour is required to pick them up and dry them individually. Satish Kumar (45) from Sonepat, Haryana faced this issue firsthand while running his family-owned brick kiln. Eventually, Kumar and his family had to shut down their business because of the losses they were facing.

“We could not meet demand on time, and the cost of manual labour was too high for us. That’s when I realised that this system needs to be automated — right from mixing raw material to moulding and laying bricks,” says Satish, founder of SnPC Machines. He is a Class X dropout, who believes experience is the only education he needs.

Designing the prototype

Satish spent four years, from 2010 to 2014, coming up with the design of the machine. To get it right, he spoke to engineers and other brick kiln makers with an automated system in place.

“Though automated systems existed, they were static machines. Manual labour was still required to move raw bricks to open spaces for drying. That’s when it stuck me, that the machine could move like a truck and lay bricks instead,” he says.

With help from a few welders and local manufacturers, Satish designed a prototype of the brick-making unit. Third party vendors helped him get parts, such as the moveable truck, fit in. “I registered the business along with my brother, Vilas Chhikara, who is an MBA graduate. The final prototype was launched and tested in January 2015,” he says, adding that the prototype was of a small machine that could lay 9,000 bricks in an hour.

The company has now upgraded its machinery and launched two more versions, which can lay 12,000 bricks in one hour. Compared to conventional bricks that cost 60 paise per block, SnPC’s bricks cost only 20 paise per block.

Satish has a manufacturing and assembly unit in Haryana, but outsources the production of a few parts to third-party manufacturers.

How does it work?

The truck, which is also the brick-machine, holds a generator, a mixer, and a mould to produce bricks. Once raw materials are added into the truck, the bricks are ready to be laid. A driver has to operate the machine and move it over the field, where the bricks are to be baked.

“The mixture is supplied through a system and finally reaches the mould, which is placed behind the wheels. From one foot off the ground, the mould gently drops the bricks and continues to do this with every inch the vehicle moves,” says Vilas

To date, the team has distributed 250 machines across Asia, and continue to receive such orders. In 2017, Satbir Chaudhary, a Uttarakhand-based brick manufacturer purchased the BMM 300 to switch from manual brick making to automatic.

“We wanted to expand our manufacturing capacity and chose SnPC’s services. From designing customised machines in terms of size of the brick, logo, and thickness, to providing post-delivery services, they cover everything. Our business has expanded in terms of supply, and has reduced expenditure in production,” Satbir says.

In October 2020, SnPC machines received the National Startup Award from the Government of India. They won under the ‘construction development monitoring services’ category, received a cash prize, and got the opportunity to present their solutions to relevant public authorities and corporates.

Source: 14 February, 2021, The Better India