Follow the Yellow brick Road

Follow the Yellow brick Road

08th March 2016

Carrying on with our series of articles on bricks, we’ve come across some incredibly innovative methods of laying bricks that have some quite serious implications for bricklayers in the future.  Bricks were once commonly used as road surface material in urban areas all over the world.  However, they fell out of fashion mainly due to the high costs associated with the labour necessary to lay and maintain them and nowadays are usually only kept in place for historical or aesthetic reasons.  They began to make a comeback in the Netherlands following a major, nationwide traffic safety programme in 1997.   Since then, more than 40,000 km of city streets have been converted to local access roads with a speed limit of 30 km/h.  The noise and vibration when driving on brick road surfaces results in motorists slowing down and this is why bricks are adopted as a traffic calming measure in many areas.

However, laying down paving bricks on roads is an expensive, time-consuming and back-breaking activity.  This led to a director of a Dutch industrial company coming up with an innovative new way of laying bricks – by machine.  Henk van Kuijk decided that kneeling and shoving bricks into place on the ground was just too slow so he invented a machine that would do the job – the Tiger Stone paving machine.  This machine is as wide as a road and when loose bricks are fed into the machine, it lays them on the road as it slowly moves along.  All that’s left to do is to give them a quick going over with a tamper and, voila, there’s an instant brick road in place!

From one to three operators stand on a platform on the Tiger Stone, feeding bricks from a hopper into the machine’s pusher slot by hand.  The bricks have to be fed into the pusher in the desired finished pattern, then gravity makes them slide together (in a road wide sheet) down onto the sand that has been laid in preparation for the brick surface.  You can watch the process in the video below.