The original M9 Hydraform Interlocking Machine was first produced in 2012. The block production was up to 500 interlocking blocks per 8-hour shift, popularily known as a convenient machine for a start-up business. With the rising demands all over Africa, brew a new idea of a flat pack machine – that could be assembled onsite.

The technical team at Hydraform began the draft process to assess the most viable way in executing the flat pack method. The onset of the machine requirements stemmed from Mr. Frank Duffau of Wildlife Works a Hydrform client in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

Duffau opened up an international tender for the acquisition of brick making machines for a project in the DRC. Around twelve companies replied with generic products – Hydraform developing the real solution – the M9 Flat Pack, with competitive pricing making it feasible in the worlds harsh economic environment. 

And so, the journey of the M9 Flat Pack began (known as the M9 FP). First the shipping of the machine had to be reconceptualised in a broken-down crating format. The requirements were to ensure none of the components of the machine should be larger than 60 kgs in order to be handled effectively and transported in traditional baleinieres (whaling boats), to the field office in Inongo, a remote village in the DRC.

The three machines along with additional spares and accessories were packed in a 20FT container in Johannesburg, South Africa. This container followed a journey that included transporting to the port in Durban,South Africa to be loaded onto on a vessel scheduled to Matadi port in the DRC.

In Matadi it was loaded onto a terrain truck bound for Bandundu, a journey of about 650 km that tests a decent 4- wheel vehicle to its limits. Through a thick rain-forest on well used and abused tracks filled with vehicles bogged down in the mud 

Arrival in Bandundu sees the truck crossing the famous Kasai River to reach Isaka- the end of the trucks journey. At this point all cargo is off loaded from the truck by hand with tremendous human strength determined to see these machines reach its destination and reloaded onto the baleinieres. Chartering a 160 km journey on the Fimi River, passing Kutu and entering the large lake of Mai Ndombe- the lake of “black waters”. Mai Ndombe lake is incredibly shallow although 130km long and 90km wide, the depth is around an average of 8 meters making the water turbulent. Similar to an ocean with large and continuous waves, strong winds and currents and of course the human knowledge and experience of the waters to see them safely through.

Everyone was hoping for pleasant weather to make the waters calm and peaceful allowing for easier transporting-but as we know this is always challenging to plan and schedule. Arriving in Inongo, the cargo was offloaded from the baleinieres and transported to their offices. The Wildlife Works team scheduled to fly from Kinshasha to Inongo to meet the machines arrival had incurred unforseen aeroplane technical ‘errors’ the team decided to postpone the trip. Securing an airline whose aeroplane was available 3 weeks later, they arrived in Inongo. Duffau said, “We are indeed very happy with Hydraform thus far, they really stood to the challenge continuously, even air freighting parts that were necessary for the reassembly of the machine, at their own costs.”

Now that the team and machines are on site the next stage can begin. Following the Hydraform training programme,the preparing of the site and mobilizing construction materials for the Hydraform Machines is underway, an experienced Hydraform Trainer will fly to Inongo and assemble the machines. This will allow for machine operation training to all the Wildlife Works personal along with educating on how to maximize block production and finally start the construction of a planned workshop. This workshop is hoped to serve as a further training site to others on how to use the Hydraform bricks to erect walls.

The M9 Flat pack will serve as a way to produce blocks in the most remote locations. Together Wildlife Works and Hydraform will work with communities to improve education, dignity and defy the stereotypes. Together travelling further than imagined possible.