Things to know before investing in IG manufacturing equipment

Are you considering adding insulating glass products to your production mix? Or are you thinking of reconfiguring your current equipment to deliver new and better services to your customers? Growth and expansion are natural and essential for all businesses. But how do you do it in the right way to tap into the insulating glass manufacturing niche?

Despite the current fluctuations in the global economy, the overall demand for insulating glass (IG) is expected to grow steadily over the next few years. Benefits of insulating glass, such as the improved energy efficiency of buildings, are increasing the demand for this particular type of glazing material. If insulating glass is still not among your operating segments, by entering now, you can give your business the best marketing edge over your competitors.

But first, there are a couple of factors every glass processor should take into account before rushing into a full-scale investment process.

Define your business segment

The business segment determines many of the requirements affecting your IG manufacturing line and the infrastructure around it. For example, you need to consider special requirements for the line’s construction, its components or its size.

Therefore, to find the most suitable equipment that will correspond to your future production needs, ask yourself the following questions to help define your market niche:

  1. What is the business segment you want to be in?
  2. Who are your most valuable customers in terms of profitability?
  3. Can this change in 3–5 years’ time?
  4. What are the trends in this segment, and how will they impact the future requirements of your IG manufacturing?
  5. What is the expected share of jumbo-size glasses in your production?

If your current insulating glass manufacturing line doesn’t support your forecasted requirements, check whether it is possible to first reconfigure it rather than investing in a new one.

Optimize your machine size

Defining the suitable line size for your business is crucial, especially if you are aiming for high-volume production. This is because the line length has a direct effect on the capacity you can achieve due to the longer conveyors. Plus, your footprint will obviously be larger with a bigger machine.

The most important factor that defines the line’s dimensions is the maximum glass size required in your production. In this regard, your customers dictate the choice.

If only a small part of your business is expected to come from very large glass sheets, it might be worth purchasing those from somewhere else rather than investing in a larger machine.

Select the correct technologies

When investing in an IG manufacturing line, there are various technological choices to be made that affect your day-to-day operations and capabilities. The most important ones concern your frame application, washing machine, as well as your pressing and sealing technology.

Other things to take into consideration are mainly related to the line’s usability aspects, such as ease of use and the level of automation.

Here, it is wise to look for modern, fast and automatic glass processing solutions. Since the price difference among the reliable markets today is not so high anymore, it is much more reasonable to purchase a better-quality and more technologically advanced option early on. In the next few years, insulating glass manufacturers and even machine suppliers will be forced to gradually switch to modernized systems.

Choose the right partner

There is a myriad of IG manufacturing line configuration options. From rather compact and economical start-up solutions to more advanced high-speed manufacturing configurations to really massive systems for the production of maximum glass sizes – the versatility available can make the selection process somewhat confusing.

But if you have defined your business requirements clearly, you will be headed in the right direction. And it will be much easier for your future supplier to understand your exact needs and support you with the right solution.

When it comes to choosing a suitable solution supplier – a long-term partner – a thorough check of the potential vendors can be helpful in narrowing down your options. This is essential because way too often we see performance specifications promised on paper that are far from what is realistically possible to achieve. So, asking the right questions and making a comparison list will take you closer to a successful investment.

These questions might be:

  • What is the company’s industry experience?
  • What is the feedback from existing users?
  • Where is the machine’s production based?
  • How innovative is the proposed line?
  • Are there any future upgrading possibilities?
  • Is there any local support available?
  • What is the expected service and spare parts cost?

These are only a few of the many important points you need to bring up for a thorough checklist. Refer to our IG Manufacturing Line Buyer’s Guide for a full list of questions.

Market slowdown – time to act

As a business owner, you have targets you want to meet. And the temporary shift within the economy should not derail your growth plans. In fact, a successful growth strategy looks at the market at least five years ahead.

So, now is actually the best time to act on your entrepreneurial spirit. And when the economy picks up again, you’ll be steps ahead of the other market players. It only takes finding a reliable technology partner to support you along the way.  

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About the author

Uwe Risle

Uwe is a highly driven sales and product management professional with a mechanical engineering degree. He began his career with Glaston in 2002 in sales for the UK, Spain and Eastern Europe. In 2015, he was appointed sales contact for Germany and later promoted to Product Manager for Glaston’s architectural products. He has played a key role in developing and launching new products to grow the company’s business in this area. Uwe is deeply passionate about the glass industry and takes pride in his work, which he considers to be his calling. Outside work, Uwe enjoys hiking and riding his Vespa motorcycle. His hobbies help him stay focused and energized, enabling him to be more effective in his job.