Diversity and Wealth of the Municipality of Novi Bečej: Geographic Monograph with Overview of Natural Characteristics, Population, Economy, and Settlements

Explore the deeply rooted natural charms and economic potentials of the Municipality of Novi Bečej through a comprehensive geographical monograph. Familiarize yourself with fascinating aspects of the terrain, geology, climate, water bodies, flora, and fauna, while simultaneously delving into vibrant settlements and diverse industries. This informative book provides valuable insights into the richness of this unique Vojvodina region, offering a broad spectrum of information useful for education, regional planning, and preserving local identity.

Development of the Construction Ceramic Industry "Polet" in Novi Bečej
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Development of the Construction Ceramic Industry "Polet" in Novi Bečej: From humble beginnings to extraordinary achievements

Within the industrial development of the Novi Bečej sub-region, the most significant rise has been achieved by the Building Ceramics Industry "Polet" in Novi Bečej.

In a brief history of the emergence and development of this industry, it is important to emphasize that its beginnings date back to the early 20th century. Based on very high-quality clay and cheap labor, local resident Istvan Vagner built a brick and tile factory at this location in 1907. With only 30 seasonal workers, mostly unskilled, and primitive methods of work, initially, the production of bricks and tiles was very modest. Fifteen years later, the Bon brothers purchased this factory from the original owner, and then its more intensive development began. Since they already owned several similar factories in Kikinda, Vinkovci, Hungary, and Romania, the new owners, with richer experience, partially modernized and expanded production. Soon, this brick and tile factory became widely renowned for the exceptional quality of its products.

After World War II, the factory was nationalized and gained broader republican significance. Since 1950, all factory facilities have been entrusted to the management of the workers' collective. At that time, production was still very primitive. Manual clay extraction was carried out, and the clay was transported to the production site by horse-drawn carriage. Vertical clay processing and steam power with suspended transmission presses for tile and gutter production were the only partially mechanized facilities. Raw products were transported to drying areas using primitive carts along packed dirt paths. Raw products were dried in open-air drying sheds with small roofs. Natural drying lasted in cycles of 10 to 14 days. Open clay pits were filled with fired brick and tile debris. Finally, the labor force structure was also very poor. The majority consisted of unskilled and mostly untrained workers, from whom no improvement or advancement in production could be expected.

With very outdated production technology and an unsatisfactory qualification structure of the workforce, the capacity of pressed tile, gutter, and solid brick production was around 10 million pieces annually. Although, through exceptional efforts of the workforce and better work organization, after World War II there was a gradual increase in production volume, long-term plans and preparations were made for complete modernization of production, significant expansion of capacity, and product range.

From 1961, the realization of previously made, very ambitious plans for the development of the building material industry began. In the initial development phase, excavators were introduced into the clay pits, replacing earlier manual excavation with machinery; horse-drawn carts for clay transport to processing sites were replaced with motor trolleys; a steam locomotive for tile press drive was replaced with an electric motor drive; the issue of location and increased capacity of raw brick production was more successfully resolved; special roads for transporting raw products were constructed, and open transport wagons and small tractors were introduced; a special track was laid for handling finished products and repro-materials; various health and safety measures significantly improved other working conditions.

By introducing new electrified machinery and modern equipment, better work organization, and skilled labor, total production increased by over 10 times, and the product range became more diverse. The entire production takes place in several plants. The brick production plant consists of two departments: pressing and raw brick drying. The capacity of this plant is around 20,000 bricks per day. Tile production takes place in three plants, which differ in equipment and production capacities. One of them represents the most modern plant of this type in Europe, with a daily capacity of around 60,000 tiles. Production of various sizes of modular bricks for ceilings is carried out in a separate plant. Within this plant, there is also a line for gutter production.

Among other major facilities of particular importance are: the excavation and rough processing of clay facility, the construction block manufacturing facility, the expanded clay production facility (keramzite, used as an aggregate in lightweight concrete production), and the ceramic tile production facility, which is simultaneously the youngest among all facilities of the Construction Material Industry "Polet".

Among the various products of the construction industry in Novi Bečej, there are various types of corrugated roofing tiles for building coverage, ventilation tiles, finishing tiles, guttering, various types of interlocking blocks for ceilings and intermediate structures, hollow wall blocks of various dimensions, chimney elements, ventilation blocks, keramzite granules, keramzite plates for wall cladding and partition walls, solid and perforated bricks, double-pressed bricks for facades, and various wall and floor tiles. The total daily capacity of all the mentioned products is expressed in units of the normal format (JNF). The current average daily capacity of this factory is around 375,000 JNF. The annual production of "Polet" can meet the needs of builders for the construction of 18,000 apartments, which is the annual construction rate in the SAP Vojvodina and Belgrade, both in the social and private sectors.

In a comprehensive examination of production and its realization, special attention should be paid to the raw material base of production, labor force, and the market, i.e., the sale of finished products. In the more recent or younger phase of the geological history of this region, namely in the phase of the appearance of diluvial lakes, the process of creating loess sediments began. From the perspective of creating the basic raw material for the production of construction ceramics, this is the most significant in the geological history of the Novi Bečej subregion. Very fine dust particles, carried by winds, fell on the surface of the earth during moments of decreasing kinetic stress of winds and snow-covered lakes, marshes, and other parts of moist and dried soil. Fine dust particles, as the basic source material, were transported from different distances, reaching even thousands of kilometers. On such a long journey, due to frequent changes in the kinetic stress of winds, incidental separation of carried material occurred. In this way, in the same basin, layers of clay were formed, with layers of pure sand. Thus, in the upper Pleistocene, marshy loess was formed, grayish-white and yellowish in color, rich in fossils of marshy character. The possibility or thickness of the deposited typical marsh loess varies in different parts of this basin. Above all, the relief of the basin bottom and various vegetation influenced it. Measurements have shown that the thickness of marsh loess in this area reaches 16 meters. Beneath the layer of marsh loess lies fine-grained clay, dark blue to grayish-yellow in color.

The basic raw material for the production of construction ceramics consists of the mentioned clays of loess origin. They contain a great wealth of minerals belonging to the groups of silicates, oxides, carbonates, and sulfates. According to the established thickness of the clay layer and its wide distribution, it can be concluded that the construction ceramics factory in Novi Bečej has almost unlimited quantities of basic raw materials for its production.

Alongside the raw material base, the workforce represents a very significant factor in production. The analysis of the workforce employed in the construction ceramics industry indicates certain characteristics in terms of age, gender, and qualification structure. Over a longer period of time, there have been significant changes in the total number of employed workers. In 1970, there were a total of 497 workers at "Polet", in 1975 the number of workers increased to 856, and in 1980 it exceeded a thousand, precisely 1,099 workers. By analyzing the trend of the total number of workers, we conclude that from 1970 to 1980, the number of employees steadily increased, and in 1980, compared to 1970, the number of employees at "Polet" more than doubled. The gender structure is characterized by a higher percentage of male workforce due to the specific nature of the tasks performed in this work organization. In terms of age structure, the largest representation is of young workforce up to 35 years of age. With a significantly smaller participation, workers aged 35 to 50 follow, and the smallest percentage of employees are workers over 50 years of age.

From the presented data, we observe that in the observed ten-year period from 1970 to 1980, the number of workers with higher education increased by more than four times, the number of workers with higher education doubled, and those with secondary education tripled. The number of highly qualified workers also doubled, and skilled workers almost tripled. All these data indicate that significant efforts have been made in "Polet" to improve the qualification structure of the workforce, and the overall operation and development of the construction industry have confirmed the good orientation of this collective.

With a good qualification structure, exceptional dedication of the entire collective, and very good production organization, the Construction Ceramics Industry "Polet" has achieved outstanding results in increasing productivity, profitability, and cost-effectiveness of production, which is one of the main problems of the Yugoslav industry. If we take the year 1971 as the base year, then the productivity coefficient at "Polet" increased by 1980 as follows:

In the observed period, the profitability coefficient in 1980, compared to 1971, increased by 131%, i.e., income per unit of assets engaged increased by 131% compared to the base year of 1971. Unlike the profitability coefficient, the efficiency of operations in the first two years observed was declining. In 1973, efficiency decreased by 23%, and in 1976 by 44%. However, in 1979, the efficiency of operations increased by 10% compared to the base year of 1971, and in 1980 by 21%, i.e., the value of production achieved was 21% higher compared to the resources used.

The Construction Ceramics Industry "Polet" also has no problems with the realization of all its product types. With good product quality and a successfully organized sales network, this work organization often pre-sells the entire annual production of individual products. Among the largest consumer centers of "Polet" construction ceramics in our country are: Belgrade, Valjevo, Kraljevo, Skopje, Novi Sad, Zrenjanin, Sombor, Banja Luka, Tuzla, Zenica, Sarajevo, Mostar, Nikšić, Split, Zagreb, and other more developed cities. In recent years, the collective of the construction industry from Novi Bečej has been achieving increasingly significant positions in the foreign market through the export of its products.

By asphalt roads and railway lines, Novi Bečej is connected to all consumer centers in our country. Favorable transportation conditions are successfully complemented by the Tisa River and the Danube-Tisa-Danube Canal, which enable the transportation of raw materials and the dispatch of finished products through cheaper waterways.

In addition to IGK "Polet" in Novi Bečej, two other work organizations also contribute significantly to the creation of national income in the municipality: "Ciglana" Novo Miloševo and "2nd October" brickyard Kumane. More about these work organizations will be discussed in a separate section of the geographical monograph, in the individual treatment of settlements in the Novi Bečej subregion.

With a significant share in the creation of national income in the municipality, the Construction Ceramics Industry in Novi Bečej is among the main drivers of economic development in the Novi Bečej subregion. Therefore, special attention is devoted to the further development of this factory in the social development plans of the municipality. By opening new facilities, expanding the range of products and overall production, and making constant efforts to increase labor productivity, opportunities are created for the opening of new jobs and the employment of new labor. By building a factory for the production of ceramic wall and floor sinter tiles, in the past five-year period from 1976 to 1980, IGK "Polet" employed about 150 new workers. In the five-year period from 1981 to 1985, significant undertakings on further development and strengthening of this work organization are again foreseen by the social development plan of the municipality.

The development plans of the construction industry do not neglect the development of other work organizations in the municipality. In the current development plan from 1981 to 1985, reconstructions, expansions, and modernizations of equipment are planned in the brickworks in Novo Miloševo and Kumane. The primary goal of new investments is aimed at increasing production and creating more favorable working conditions and further strengthening the material base. By reconstructing furnaces and dryers in the "2nd October" brickyard in Kumane and by building a gas concrete factory, the capacity of this brickyard will increase to 7 million units per year. By expanding existing capacities in the Novo Miloševo brickyard, the production capacity of this factory will increase to 10 million units. All of this is expected to contribute to an overall increase in material production and the creation of greater national income in the municipality, as well as more economical, productive, and profitable operations in the construction industry of the Novi Bečej subregion.

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