by Tara Taffera
Instant enlightenment in more ways than one could have been the theme of
Glass Processing Days, the sixth International Conference on Architectural and Automotive
Glass, Today and in the 21st Century, held June 13-16 in Tampere, Finland. The 850 people
who attended the show were continually enlightened, whether it was by one of 160
educational sessions, 18 short courses, a conversation with a colleague, or by the
midnight sun that didnt set. But attendees, who represented nearly 50 countries,
were challenged as well. They were probed to consider their position in the glass industry
and the future of their
Ebeid Challenges the Industry
Russell Ebeid, president of Guardian Industries Glass Group, was the opening speaker and one of the first to challenge attendees when he asked, If the price of glass was zero, why should a customer do business with you? Whether or not attendees were able to answer this question, Ebeid certainly gave the industry a lot to think about.
He began with a discussion of the glass industrys dramatic changes and evolution. The industry is shifting from the producer to the user, he said. It wasnt long ago that an enhanced product commanded a premium price. This is no longer the case. Ebeid said better products are needed to maintain sales and customer appeal. Never has the consumer gotten a better value for his money, he said.
Jeff Granato, architectural marketing manager for Dupont Company was one attendee who agreed with Ebeids theory of evolution. He said this industry is changing and we need to evolveregardless of where we are in the value chain, said Granato. We at Dupont agree with this philosophy and have to change our products accordingly.
Ebeid also stressed the industrys need to become more efficient, inter-dependent and integrated on an international scale. According to Ebeid, lower barriers to entry and newer continental niche entrants are challenging the global players. Whether it is actions taken by foreign competitors, Pacific Rim economic turmoil, or global expansion, these events will create opportunities for all who see the shifting pattern within the customers value chain, said Ebeid.
Ebeid also addressed the topic of competition and urged companies to look toward the future. Mergers and acquisitions of the weaker competitors are on the horizon due to their inability to foresee the future, update their competencies and revise their archaic business designs, he said. Ebeid warned: Your company will face evolution or extinction.
Another warning he issued to attendees: Competitive advantage is temporary. According to Ebeid, to truly be a leading innovator each individual has to learn to move quickly and improve products and manufacturing processes in ever-shortening time frames. In the past, there was plenty of time to think about decisions, but this time the competition is already acting on their decisions, he said.
With all the talk of competition, one might think this is a negative force, but Ebeid disagrees, saying competition will benefit the industry with better products, services and innovations. This suggests that you can look at new competitors as a threat but also as a very strong motivator to focus and refine the position of your own company in the market.
So, how do companies enjoy success? According to Ebeid, it is by employing leaders who anticipate the future. Whatever success a company enjoys today is because it prepared for it yesterday, he said.
The educational sessions offered at Glass Processing Days covered the gamut of glass industry topics including discussions of tempered glass, quality control and pre-processing, automotive glass processes and new technical developments and applications.
Granato said he was very impressed with the quality of the presenters and the technical papers. I had heard that in the early days of Glass Processing Days, some of the papers were company advertisements and not too technical in nature, said Granato. But this years presentations represented all aspects of the industry.
But, if you missed a presentation because you were chatting with a colleague or attending another session, there was no need to worry. The Specialist Corner provided transcripts of all presentations mounted on poster boards. This venue also allowed attendees to talk with the papers authors.
And if you were unable to travel to Finland for this event, look for adaptations of some of the presentations in future issues of USGlass. Additionally, all presentations are bound in a 700-page book and available for purchase from Tamglass, organizer of Glass Processing Days.
In addition to the presentations, the conference included short courses covering topics such as: flat glass tempering, coated glass applications and design techniques for glass in buildings.
While Glass Processing Days is known for providing a wide breadth of educational opportunities, Tamglass may be just as well-known for its ability to entertain its guests. On Sunday, attendees were treated to an opening night get-together over a Finnish buffet. Mondays conference dinner provided high-quality modern Finnish cuisine and Finnish entertainment. Tuesdays city reception was a bit more formal, and allowed attendees to visit Tamperes City Hall. Those wanting to experience more of Tamperes culture moved on to a concert at Tamperes cathedral, complete with international and Finnish music. The social events concluded on Wednesday with the informal farewell party, complete with a Finnish tango.
One thing unique to Glass Processing Days is each evening all attendees come together for dinner and socializing. Where else do you have the ability to see that many customers in one place? asked Granato. Everyone socializes together providing great opportunities.
According to Tamglass, dates for Glass Processing Days 2001 should be announced by the end of August.
Tara Taffera is the editor of USGlass magazine.
Architectural and Safety Glass Exhibition A Success
While Glass Processing Days was packed full of numerous events and educational sessions, attendees also had the opportunity to visit the Architectural and Safety Glass Exhibition. Visitors to this venue had the opportunity to familiarize themselves with Tamperes leading architectural safety glass technology companies and their high-tech products and innovations.
The companies in attendance were event organizers Uniglass Engineering Oy, Tambest Oy and Glassrobots. Glassrobots presented its latest product series, the Rainbowmaker TSF, a new-generation bending and tempering system for architectural glass. These state-of-the-art machines allow production of large size top-quality bent tempered architectural glass, according to the company.
Glassrobots Rainbowmaker TSF Combi was shown to many interested glass processors who attended a factory tour. According to Glassrobots, the high quality of the glass and the simple and genius design of the machine itself astonished the visitors.
In addition to viewing products, organizers say the exhibition provided attendees the unique opportunity to exchange opinions with glass professionals from around the world. And thats not all. Event organizers also hosted an evening banquet, The Night of Glasses, featuring a sampling of seven local wines and seven regional dishes.
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