It’s been now almost a month since Glasstec, and I thought it would be good to share some of our experiences with you. Since this bi-annual event is the largest event in the world, it is also an excellent opportunity to talk with people from different countries and form a global view on the whole industry. There are already several articles available about the general themes and new launches at Glasstec, for example, glasstec 2016: Final press release. These publications won’t be covered here. Instead, I will share the topics that were most relevant to glass processors who are considering investments in tempering or laminating equipment.
If I entered into a glass tempering discussion in 2010, it would be almost unlikely that we would have talked about anisotropy in tempered glass. At Glasstec 2016, this was the central topic of at least 75% of my discussions.
Anisotropy is a valid industry concern today. It is noticeable that building specifiers are becoming more and more aware of the issue and that some have even changed their glazing specifications from tempered to annealed laminated glass because of the risk of anisotropy.
There are still no standards for this phenomenon, but an increasing number of measurement systems are being developed. An offline measurement system IriControL has already been in the market for a couple of years. We are also starting to see some good online systems being launched.
Please note: If you want to know more about available online systems for anisotropy measurement, please shoot me an e-mail. I’ll share the latest information with you.
As long as I remember, we have talked about the fact that glass sizes are getting bigger and bigger. It seems there is no end to this trend. Years ago, the most common tempering line size was 2.1 m x 3.6 m or 2.4 m x 4.8 m. Today, the most common size has expanded to 2.8 m x 6 m – and very often, even the full jumbo size is considered.
These larger sizes not only give processors the capability to run larger glass pieces, they also provide a higher capacity in general production. This applies both to tempering and to laminating line investments.
It’s noticeable that only a few years ago, the production of jumbo-sized glass was concentrated in a couple of countries which then exported this glass. The United States is definitely waking up in terms of jumbo-sized tempering. Several new jumbo tempering lines will be introduced into operation in the coming years. Also, we can see that even small countries tend to have at least one company that can deliver jumbo-sized tempered glass.
It seems there are many glass processors who are analyzing their strategy in the solar business this year. Currently, the prevailing glass thickness is still 3 mm, but the majority of the solar panel companies and glass processing companies supplying glass to the solar industry are carrying out feasibility studies to switch to 2 mm tempering.
This is a great direction. Not only does thinner glass give the panel a better efficiency rate, it also significantly decreases the weight of the panel, which then reduces freight costs and CO2 emissions throughout the entire glass value chain.
You either need to be different or you need to be very cost efficient. The standard tempered glass business is becoming a commodity, which means the importance of production efficiency is increasing. Those who have the best information about their production will most likely manage it in the most optimized way.
This has led many machine suppliers to develop value-adding tools that offer users more timely information to make better decisions. With today’s tempering lines, this means you can check directly from your mobile phone what exactly is happening at any given moment, how much glass has been processed during the past shift and how well the production is doing in relation to the machine’s capability.
“Without data, you are blind and deaf in the middle of a freeway”
Another great example of today’s connectivity was, in fact, our booth concept at Glasstec. We did not want to bring a machine to the show. First of all, it would be very expensive. And second, it is only a piece of metal if you don’t have the capability to run it at the exhibition site. So, we came up with the idea to stream the video feed directly from our factory to the show, in real time. In this way, we were able to demonstrate the full capability of our new FC Series tempering line, including its real quality level, ease of processing, anisotropy level and more.
Here is a recording of one of the live streams run during Glasstec:
Today, most glass processors have a huge number of glass types in their production. In the worst case, this means hundreds of different recipes for the various glass types, which requires a lot of knowledge from the line operators. At Glasstec 2016, we started to see a growing interest in automation, which makes things much simpler for the operators. This is a challenge for both tempering and lamination.
In lamination, there is a very clear solution that eliminates a lot of complexity: the newly launched convection furnaces don’t really care what type of glass is run. This means that instead of hundreds of recipes, you only have a couple.
Again, if you want to learn more about these automation solutions, you can ask me by replying to this blog post or by sending me an e-mail.
Glasstec was once again a very energizing event with a lot of meetings, excellent discussions and a lot of new networking. This post is a summary of the main topics that are causing concern to tempering line investors. Does your list of concerns look similar or would you like to add to it? Let us know.
If you want to know more about anything I’ve written about here, let me know by replying to this blog post or by sending me an e-mail
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