State-of-the-art block manufacturing has evolved to a very high state of efficiency over the years.
Here in the US, two of the largest and better known block machine manufacturers are Besser Block and Columbia. Both of these companies have a global reach, and influence block manufacturing on a large scale.
If you've never seen a block machine in action, it's really something to behold. So much power, efficiency and speed both instantly and endlessly putting out block. The level of automation in a modern plant is amazing; the block are practically never touched by hand.
Here is a decent video from an Italian machine and plant manufacturer, Rosacometta:
I hope I've set the stage for a basic understanding of modern masonry. Tomorrow I'll start describing some of my own technology.