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When block making turns goldmine

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Maduka Nweke;   08034207864, 08118879331

Block molding is a trade a lot of people have often neglected over the years. Those who engage in block molding are seen as doing dirty business. This is so because the technological know how for mechanical methods has not become popular with Nigerians as many still rely on the traditional process to get blocks for their buildings.

Concrete blocks, sometimes called cement bricks or cement stock bricks, are widely used as building material. Automatic or semi-automatic machines are available for making concrete blocks, but it is possible to make them in the free available space of your home. And if you are serious, you can start your own home business of making and selling blocks.

It is pertinent to note here that because of the technical and operational methods, the machines for making blocks are still not enough in Nigeria so a lot of people still use the traditional and the primordial system of making one block at a time. Despite the fact that the system is a delayed method, people who are into it still eke their living and add a little buoyancy in their lifestyle.

For those who want to go into block making without knowing how to start or the needed strategies, here are some of the ways one can go into block making with relative ease and fend for his family.

The first thing to do when starting a block making business is to prepare the concrete mix. To do this, you need to get a large container, as large as you can get in your work area. You will require cement, sand, gravel and water for making the concrete mix. Put the cement, sand and gravel in the container at a ratio of 1:2:3. Start mixing water in the container and stir the mixture continuously with a shovel. Pour water until the concrete mixture becomes pliable enough to be poured into the mold.

When you are done with the concrete mix, it is time to start making the raw concrete blocks. And how do you do that? You now pour the concrete mixture into the mold and vibrate the mold so that the concrete gets settled in it and reaches the extreme corners. Scoop the excess concrete mixture using a plywood plank at the open face of the mold. Level the open surface smooth by running the plywood plank across it.

The concrete blocks need to be kept in the mold for 24 hours for drying. After they are dried, you remove the blocks from the mold and put them in a water tank for curing. The curing process will provide the required compressive strength and will take around two weeks. Although this process is a little cumbersome, it is the kind that can give you a franchise that can draw patronage when you less expect it. This franchise can be an advert material by itself as the few people who may struggle to use it may not hesitate to make a repeat buy. But the system that can shoot your business up is, once you have sufficient numbers of concrete blocks, you can print a few leaflets or fliers or on the other hand, place a small local newspaper advert and build a website where you can do information dissemination regarding your service.

But aside the above, you can start your cement brick or concrete block making business without investing in machineries. You can even try to provide customised hollow cement bricks by using different types of molds. Remember that the strength of cement stock bricks depends on the proportion of the mixture and allowing sufficient curing time.

Although the above is confirmed, some experts believe that concrete blocks made with Concrete MD are much stronger than what is being produced at the moment. They noted that the introduction of this machine into the Nigerian market is in fulfillment of GEMS 2’s primary mandate, which is to improve the construction sector through income growth and overall empowerment of workers and artisans.

Some experts noted that since the arrival of the machine, GEMS 2 has launched nationwide demonstration and training sessions to showcase the efficiency of the machine to key stakeholders. The training session, which kicked off in Abuja attracted businesses in the construction sector. The highpoint of the event was when concrete block made from the MD Concrete machine was placed side by side the one made with the local mixer; the difference was glaring to all.

Relatively, the MD Concrete machine provided the artisans what they expected. However, most of them that participated in the Lagos training were concerned about the probable cost of the machine. But whether the machine is cost-effective or not, the role of the company introducing it (GEMS 2) is to introduce innovation that will ultimately result in growth and sustainable solution to the sector.

Although the cost of the machine could be high at the initial time, when production increases and local artisans start to fabricate some of the parts locally, it will become like the rice thresher that was costly when first introduced but later dropped as a result of quantity supply. So the cost will definitely be determined by market forces, as what is important now is to determine acceptability and value of the solution. Once those have been established, the market forces will take care of cost issues. The only thing is that attention should be focused on the big picture, which is the fact that stronger concrete blocks will result in stronger building construction.

The company that introduced the machine further noted that the organisation has been investing in research and improvements, which have the capacity to evolve innovations, build local capacity, grow income and empower labour, in this case, the artisan. It noted that putting these goals side by side the current challenges in construction in Nigeria from the input supply perspective, GEMS 2 has so far sponsored studies that will assist in market uptake of bricks in the country while strengthening the use of concrete blocks as well.

On the economic implications, a lot of professionals have blamed housing collapse on the strength of blocks used in buildings. For this reason, anyone who has the financial muscle to build a house, whether for residential or as estate business, will not be happy that after a lot of spade work has gone into block making and other inclusive expenses, the building, getting to its finishing point, collapses. That, aside attracting government attention, will also make the builder to incur extra undue costs. So to avoid this and other exigencies, it is advisable for one to carry the loads once and for all.

For those who want to do it for commercial purposes, if a mistake is made such that those who bought your cement bricks could come back complaining that the blocks are not solid and could not give them the purpose for which they were bought, then you are sure to go out of business because it will result to each one telling the other. Block molders should, therefore, endeavour to make their blocks strong to give the market what they want. It is not being able to give the market what is wanted that made those who went into block molding at the first time to discard the business with argument that it does not pay.

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