Volume 42, Issue 11 - November 2007
In addition to the trends spotted on the floor of the Georgia World Congress Center (see Trend-Spotting in the November USGlass on page 44), exhibitors had lots of information about new products and product upgrades.
GlassBuild America, held September 10-12 in Atlanta, provided an opportunity for glass industry professionals to gather and discuss what’s new and what’s coming down the pike, from glass handling equipment to machinery to components and more.
Schodorf Truck Body and Equipment also had a vehicle on display, and plenty more information about the glass carriers it offers. Whether attendees were interested in vans, pick-ups, dual wheeled cab or chassis trucks, or customs vehicles, Schodorf representatives were able to answer questions and provide options. Rick Carlei of Quattrolifts USA LLC said the safety factor has been the most important aspect of the company’s lifting equipment, which allows one person to be able to move and install a lite of glass. Carlei said that products such as the company’s Nomad and Rotating Head portable glass installation system have been popular among the small- to medium-sized shops that have been most affected by labor shortages.
David Tang of Smart Line, based in Rego Park, N.Y., told visitors about the company’s new glass loading and unloading machine. According to Tang, the machine automatically loads glass from the conveyors to the rack, or vice versa. Tang said that this helps to save labor at the end of the insulating glass (IG) line and, much like Carlei’s equipment, provide a safe environment for glass workers. A standard machine is capable of handling glass units 24 to 50 inches wide, 48 to 96 inches high and up to 120 pounds. Wood’s Powr-Grip Co. received interest in some new products. The company’s air-powered rotator 400 was designed with an integrated Demag hoist, so that it is able to lift up to 400 pounds and provide 180-degree rotation. In addition to this display was a new air-powered vacuum cup. No repumping is required with these vacuum cups, which company representatives say are suitable for light production.
Equipment for Glass Product Assembly
Ron Ober of Wakefield Equipment was excited to share “something slick” with attendees. On display was a new system for cutting grids that Wakefield is distributing for Opticut Technologies Inc. Upon a table in the booth, a projector shone down the pattern so that a grid could simply be laid on the table and cut based on the projected pattern.
The DaVinci Works GridLock program was designed to capture all of the measurements required to construct complex grilles, according to company information. Using drop-down selections, the program allows users to choose from pre-defined window styles, arrange them in the desired configuration, choose the style and shape of grilles and then align windows and grilles with adjacent sections. When the design is complete, a full-scale image is projected onto a work surface, allowing the user to trace the image. Edgetech IG Inc. also displayed a system for speeding the process of measuring. E-Z Rad, brand-new with Nupro, is a grid placement system “It’s got a lot of people’s attention because of cost savings,” said Erin Johnson of Edgetech. The vertical workstation was designed to simplify cutting, assembly and installation of the 3- or 5-spoke muntin starburst pattern in a shaped glass IG unit. Attendees watched demonstrations of how muntins could be placed against the workstation, held into place by an end clip and easily measured to the desired length for cutting. According to the company, the system decreases the application time it takes to place the muntins in the unit and allows for precise muntin placement.
A Few Booths with Big
Jordon Glass also had new additions to its machinery offerings at this year’s show. According to Beatriz Dominguez, the company continues to update product features as well as its offerings in response to customer demand. “As we sell one,” she said, “our customers say, ‘well, you could add this …’”The company was spotlighting its IT GD 1200 automatic glass drilling machine, which features automatic and manual top drill control, as well as automatic bottom-up drill control. The company’s new IT GS 1800 automatic sandblast machine features a built-in self-clean system, according to information from the company. Azon USA Inc. showed the latest head and cutter components for its Azo-Brader™. The machine was designed to surface-condition an aluminum extrusion cavity mechanically before the pour-and-debridge process. Sommer & Maca Industries Inc. offered a couple of new products as well, according to John Czopek. The company is now distributing a thermal heated press from Thermal Express Systems Inc. Czopek said the line uses TruSeal’s DuraSeal product. Sommer & Maca also introduced a new tape storage/dispenser system and a new air float table, also from Thermal Express.
Billco Manufacturing Inc. introduced a new washing line. The Titan Elite glass washing system offers enhanced processing capabilities with easy maintenance, according to company representatives. A low-profile design improves area visibility and minimizes the amount of floor space required. Configurable zone cleaning allows the user to run four cleaning zones to maximize cleaning. A reformulated roll covering reduces markings when processing sensitive coated glass. The system’s enhanced air knife design improves throughput up to 40 percent over standard designs. The system also features a stainless steel design, energy-efficient components and a screwjack lift system for convenient access to interior components. Representatives from Billco say that the line’s simplified maintenance features make it more convenient to service the machine on a more regular basis, without significantly disrupting processing. Bystronic Inc. brought its Automatic SuperSpacer® IG manufacturing line to the trade show floor. The company focused on the advancements made for the line since its 2005 debut. Among these, the line is now able to provide simultaneous assembly, gas-filling and pressing of IG units, short filling times, minimized gas loss due to program controlled filling parameters and adjustable, precise press plate movement.
Little Pieces and Finished
Among the new window products available was a new product from VEKA—a window with integrated storm protection. The window is equipped with a polyester fabric that is designed to cut down on water damage in the event of a hurricane; likewise, the glass is designed to be impact-resistant.
In the area of hardware, Bronze Craft in Nashua, N.H., offered a multi-point locking system designed for bomb-blast conditions to fill the needs of those wishing to offer bomb-blast-resistant windows.
AGC Flat Glass North America (formerly AFG) was sporting its new name and a new vice president of marketing, Serge Martin. He said that the company plans to roll out some big news about solar glass later this year.
Chuck Crosson with Taco Metals Inc. said his company focused on some new railing components for handrail systems that are adjustable for height. Steve Howes, chief executive officer of Pompano Beach, Fla.-based Glasslam, noted, “We’re introducing a hurricane window which is constructed using two pieces of glass and a resin coating which is put on while the piece of glass is flat so that it just coats the one piece leaving an air space. That way it’s a third lighter than if the space were completely filled with resin.” Plans call for the product to be introduced this month.
Mark Mitchell, marketing manager for Major Industries, the Wausau, Wis.-based manufacturer of translucent panels, wall systems and skylights, told attendees to keep an eye out for a project that it has in the works. “We have lots in the pipeline but the timing wasn’t right for this show,” said Mitchell.
Be sure to look for more information on these new products, once they are ready to hit the market, in the Showcase department in future issues of USGlass magazine.
Garibaldi Glass Industries has been keeping busy with new work. “There’s a lot of activity in the Northwest,” said Richard Porayko, marketing manager. “It’s fantastic.” Charles Michie said that Southern Stretch Forming has recently opened a new facility in Denver, and is definitely still growing. Representatives at Intermac AGM said the merger with AGM Machinery Inc. is going well. However, they have discussed plans to drop the “AGM” from the end of their name by the end of the year.
After joining the Glaston Group in July, Albat+Wirsam, which offers specialized software solutions, launched the new partnership at the show. As a Glaston subsidiary, Albat+Wirsam will remain independent.
Glaston presented a united “seeing it through” theme at the show. Next to the glass processing booth, represented by the Bavelloni and Tamglass brands, Albat+Wirsam was clearly identified as an independent Glaston member. “We had numerous qualified contacts to new potential customers, especially on the second day,” said Horst Mertes, executive director of sales and marketing of Albat+Wirsam North America. “The interest of the visitors confirms us that we are on the right track with our unique product spectrum, within our OSP philosophy.”
Jeff Dietrich Forecasts What to Expect
Despite the struggles of the residential construction market, those working in the commercial construction industry will continue enjoying a strong market—at least for the next couple of years. Jeff Dietrich with The Institute for Trend Research shared that sentiment, as well as an outlook and economic forecast during a GlassBuild America presentation titled “Building Profits into Tomorrow.”
According to Dietrich, the global economies of the world are moving in sync. In other words, what happens in places such as China and India [with oil, gas, etc.] will eventually be felt in the United States as well. “The demand there raises the cost of business for you,” he said. “What happens in the global economy affects you.”
He also talked some about what is happening currently in the United States economy. The U.S. industrial production index is forecast to increase 2.7 percent this year and 2.4 percent next year. “This is slower growth, but it’s still above year ago levels, so there’s still opportunity,” he said. He expects a hard landing though around 2009 to 2010.“The housing market is in a deep recession and it will take a while to clear out,” he added. “The rest of the economy will come back quicker.”
Dietrich predicted that the housing downturn will continue for the next two years and 2009 will be tough and 2010 will be worse. On the nonresidential construction side, things are very strong, and will continue along that path for the next few years, he said.
“Office construction peaked at its highest level ever in June,” said Dietrich. He said that while this side of the construction market is still profitable, material costs are up and square footage is down.
“But commercial construction continues to provide income and opportunities over the next couple of years,” he said.
He also said that while commercial buildings construction is not at the same level as office building construction, it is still good. According to Dietrich, casinos/resorts and schools will do better than other building segments and may not experience a recession at the end of the decade. There are good prospects for the nonresidential market for the next couple of years, according to Dietrich. “But 2010 and 2011 will be difficult because the nonresidential market lags the general economy,” he said. The seminar also touched on international trade. The United States is still the number-one exporter of goods and services in the world, followed by Germany, China, Japan, the United Kingdom, France, Italy and Canada. Dietrich noted that only two years ago China was in France’s number-six position. However, he sees a number of issues with China that will help “level out the playing field.” Those included the country’s government interference and control, negative demographics and competition for resources and cheaper labor from countries such as India, Vietnam and Thailand.
Looking ahead to the U.S. economy, Dietrich advised his audience to pay close attention to what happens going forward.
“When you get to 2009, 2010, there’s no reason to stare at what might have been. There’s always opportunity.”—EGR
IGMA Hosts Seminar on IG Failures
The Insulating Glass Manufacturers Alliance (IGMA) held an educational seminar on the prevention of insulating glass (IG) failures as part of GlassBuild America in September. Approximately 25 attendees listened closely, as industry experts shared the associated “do’s and don’ts” for their respective fields.
IGMA executive director Margaret Webb opened the session by providing an overview of the IG quality manufacturing procedures guideline currently under development. Webb also took time to explain the recently completed 25-year field study performed by the association, and explained that a new study will begin incorporating the new ASTM standards.
“People don’t expect the refrigerators they buy to last 25 years,” Webb said, “but they expect the windows they buy to last a lifetime.” In order to meet that expectation, Webb urged attending IG window makers to do their due diligence. “Make sure—whoever is handling your windows when they leave your facility needs to know how to handle them properly,” she said.
“If your workmanship is up-to-date and your people are proud of the windows they make, you’re going to make good units,” added speaker Tom Dangieri of UOP LLC.
The session also featured advice ranging from topics such as glass washing and cutting techniques to the role of desiccants and information on spacer systems and internal muntins/grids.
Dangieri took on the topic of desiccants. When windows aren’t assembled correctly, they breathe, Dangieri said. He offered his audience some tips for insuring that desiccants are chosen and used correctly. For example, Dangieri advised listeners not to select a desiccant before considering other factors in the IG construction, including low-E glass, gas filling, sealant, internal muntins or blinds colors. When receiving desiccants, he advised his listeners to inspect the drum or bag for damage, seal integrity or any holes that might compromise the moisture barrier and not to use bags or drums that were damaged in transit or storage. When in production, do check each lot or drum for residual water with heat rise test kit provided, he said. Don’t use supplier A’s test kit on supplier B’s desiccant.
Jeff Haberer of Cardinal IG’s product development group offered information on handling coated glass. He explained different ways for handling the two types of coating: pyrolytic (hard-coat, fire-applied) and sputtered (soft-coat), and noted that sputtered coatings require more handling care. The number-one rule for either, Haberer said, is to wear gloves. Either white cotton or nitrate gloves are acceptable, but both should be changed regularly. Ron Vollmer, business manager - construction products for ADCO Products Inc., offered suggestions for providing the best surface for a sealant. “It is very important for you to edge-delete to give the sealant a good surface,” he advised. “For non-gas filled units, we recommend 3-mm; for gas filled, we recommend 4-mm.”The biggest IG sealant “don’t,” Vollmer stressed, was to not use expired or secondhand quality material. “The deal you’re getting on it isn’t worth it.”
Lori Postak, associate director of research and development for TruSeal Technologies Inc., covered gas filling. “If you’re not heating and pressing well, you’re not going to get a good seal and your argon is going to leak out.” Postak noted that poorly sealed units will lose gas faster than designed and warranted. One emerging method for monitoring gas leakage is a sensor that can be placed in every IG unit. This technology, emerging out of Ireland, is supposed to last 10 years. Consumers don’t have to know the sensors are there or, Postak suggested, though IG fabricators can place their logo on the sensors to draw attention to them.
Ken Collier of GED Integrated Solutions discussed glass washing. When washing products with low-E coatings, Collier said the first step is to contact the manufacturer to ensure the brushes you are using are acceptable, and also to find out if special soap solutions are necessary. He warned against using spray lubricants, and noted that silicone is particularly vulnerable. Mike Burk of Edgetech IG reiterated the importance of keeping commonsense on the forefront of IG operations. “In your plants, you see people doing unsafe things everyday,” he said. “But you say, ‘Well, that’s okay,’” he alleged, quickly following with, “but it’s not.”
“You have to take all the steps you possibly can to make sure nobody gets hurt,” Burk said, after sharing a story involving a fatality in an IG manufacturing facility. He explained the human nature of getting “comfortable” and, therefore, becoming complacent about safety. “The key way [to ensure safety] is: train,” he explained, “You can’t just hand [workers] safety equipment,” he said. “And the best way to train adults is—show them. Then, make them do it in front of you.”
In his discussion of forensic investigations of IG unit failures, Bill Lingnell of Lingnell Consulting Services said that some manufacturers like to think that they don’t have IG failures. “Well,” he said, “that’s often because customers aren’t reporting them, or the reports aren’t making it up the line through management.” Lingnell advised getting to the people who know the condition of the problem to learn details. “Don’t be afraid to go to a maintenance person, or a homeowner, to find the history of the problem.” With this overload of information, listeners were likely to heed a promise from Lingnell: “You might not use all this information now,” he said, “but you will use some of it, someday.” —DV
Talking to an International Audience
An international presence could clearly be felt on the show floor. Genly Co., based in Hong Kong, took the show as an opportunity to look for a U.S. distributor. “We’re the largest picture frame manufacturer in China and expanded into mirror several years ago and now we’re looking to expand our mirror sales,” said Eugene Chung, chief executive officer (CEO).
Intex Glass—the U.S. name for Mimga, the largest float glass manufacturer in China—also was looking to expand, according to Erik Delie, sales manager for the Long Beach, Calif., branch of the company. Intex sells to end-users and fabricators that have short-term needs. “We started exporting to North America in 1996-97. Our primary activity in North America is fabricated glass. You have to be 7 to 8 percent below domestic suppliers to have an impact. We have 200 clients and 65 percent of our product goes to shower door companies and 30 percent to furniture and furniture-related companies. Because the U.S. furniture market is disappearing, we have to find a new market and we’re looking to Europe. I’m going to start focusing my efforts on developing the European market for our company,” he said.
Lincy Xia, general manager of Keyee Hardware in China, offered information about the components offered by the company for its aluminum doors and windows. Jade Hardware Co. Ltd. also had plenty of glass hardware products to display, from handles to hinges, according to sales manager Irene Wang. Su Gui Fang, engineer and general manager of Zhaoqing Dali Vacuum Equipment Ltd., had the latest on the company’s vacuum coating and glass processing machinery. Kim Nguyen, senior account manager of Zhong Wang Group USA, the Walnut, Calif.-based subsidiary of China-based Zhong Wang Group, was at the show with information about the group’s aluminum and vinyl extrusions. Carolina Chang, manager of exporting for Rechella Glass and Stone Co. Ltd. in Shanghai, was on-hand to tell attendees about the 13 options for decorative glass block available from Rechella. Huang Jian Qui offered information to attendees about the engineering capabilities of Zhongshan East Curtain Wall Engineering Co. Ltd. In addition, CIEC Group Corp.’s Chen Leung was preparing this show’s attendees for upcoming trade shows in China, including Fenestration China in Shanghai and the 2008 show in Beijing. But China wasn’t the only global company with a presence on the floor. Stefan Grenzebach, president and CEO of the Newnan, Ga.-based U.S. operation of the German company, reported that last year was the company’s best year ever. “Internationally, the market is very strong. The U.S. is down a bit because of housing,” he said. “Because we don’t see any float lines being built for the next few years, we think there are other opportunities and we are moving in those directions. We’re moving more into automating the fabrication process-coating lines. We have shifted from float to fabrication and that’s why we’re here. With the competitive pressures, fabricators have to look into efficiencies and automation.”
Grenzebach expects a 5- to 10-percent increase in U.S. sales over the next few years from new markets. “We have tripled our sales in the U.S. in the last few years. Our growth will be in fabrication equipment from both the primary manufacturers and fabricators. It will be targeted growth, not the big projects like we have had in the past with the primary float manufacturers.”
Tom Noe of Glasstech Inc. said that business was going well and they are still growing their international presence, especially in India. According to Noe, India is a big market right now.
Chip Steele of Emmegi USA Inc. said that as of October 1, 2006, the Italian company stopped working with AGM in the United States and opened an independent North American branch. Emmegi had had a presence in the United States for 20 years, but always through dealers, he explained. He says his company will now service their customers as a factory-direct operation. The company makes fabrication machining centers and saws for the architectural door and window industry. According to Steele, exhibitions such as this one are now useful in making and finalizing sales, rather than trying to secure leads. In the Glassrobots booth, Charles Cocagne, the Finnish manufacturer’s U.S. representative, said that the company has sold a couple of machines in the United States in the last few weeks. “The need to produce low-E glass is driving the need for tempering equipment and the need is for really flat glass. Also the production of hurricane glass is driving tempered and laminated equipment buying,” he said. Tommi Salenius, the new vice president of marketing and business development for DIP Tech, the Israeli company whose decorative screen machine has garnered attention at international glass exhibitions, said, “We’re trying to open the market and we’ll be surprised if we haven’t sold a machine in the United States by the end of the year. We have sold 10 units in Europe (five in Germany alone). Of course, Europe is different from the United States, which is more volume-oriented.”
Day-Long Forum Held for Contract Glaziers
Contract glazing executives got a chance to network at the second Annual Glazing Executives Forum, which was held at the Georgia World Congress Center on September 10 as part of GlassBuild America. Approximately 140 people attended the day-long event. The session opened with a presentation by John Brandt of MPI Group on the results of a recent study his company performed. Most survey respondents—66 percent—had sales of under $5 million and they are privately owned, he reported. The median 2007 wage was $18.50, according to the survey.
Survey respondents reported a median 20 hours training per employee per year, 66 percent of it on the job. “You should try to get 40 hours because there is a big correlation between the amount of time spent on training and profitability of a company,” he said. Brandt focused on the factors he sees in his research that companies in all industries have to do to be successful. This included adding value to what your company offers. He told attendees that as revenues go up it is harder to make and maintain margins because of price increases not keeping up with rising costs (health, material and workers). “We have taught our customers that they will get more value from you every year and cutting prices to give more value leads to you becoming a commodity. You have to figure out some way of giving more value without cuts,” he said.
He said that 24 percent of respondents reported that they had good or high integration with suppliers and 30 percent with customers, while the same numbers said they had little or no integration with suppliers and customers. “This is a problem because we live in a relationship economy,” he said. “If you collaborate with customers in the right way, then you enter into a situation where you can add value and be of use to them,” he said. He provided general business examples of companies that have and have not managed to reposition themselves in the market and achieve new success. On the positive side was Guiness, which was seeing sales decline and decided that it needed to focus on “community” and started aiming at a younger demographic to reverse the perception that it was an older person’s product. On the negative side was the auto industry, which Brandt said surveys show has one of the worst perception quotients of any industry. It is the second largest purchase that consumers make and the Internet has provided them with new information, but it is hard to translate that into the showroom experience when consumers are becoming more comfortable with the Internet.
“If you don’t take care of your margins now, your margins won’t take care of you later. You have to invest in things such as training that are going to allow you to keep your margins,” Brandt said. “You have to ask yourself how to build a customer value machine,” he added. “Too often people don’t know where their companies are going and so are not able to let customers know where they are going. Then they understand how you are going to add value to them.”
There were, indeed, some very barbed exchanges between the two, and it was obvious that the two speakers are still far apart on the NFRC effort. Benney began the discussion. He said that he wanted to provide background about NFRC and the evolution of its commercial rating system effort rather than give an explanation of the component modeling approach (CMA) his group is moving forward to measure the energy efficiency of commercial architectural glass and metal products. Webb then explained how IGMA got involved in the CMA several years ago when a member expressed its concern about the certification of custom-made products. “One of our issues is that there are now five material ‘libraries’ (information on components). Not only is there glass and metal but also spacers and gas,” she said.
The system is too time-consuming, she said. Webb said that while IGMA believes the architect should be considered the party responsible for the energy efficiency of the product (because he is the one who specs it), most fear the contract glazing company may end up being the responsible party.
She also said that, while Benney didn’t think the contract glaziers would be interested in the technical details of the approach, they would be very interested in them “because that’s what will come back and bite you in the tail.” Webb agreed that the system would work well for standardized products but it does not work for custom products. “You look at a wall and you have 45 fenestration products in it. This approach does not work for that.” She said that while the site-built program has not worked in the past, she finds it more attractive compared to the CMA. They then discussed some of the technical aspects of the program where they disagree. Moderator Rod Van Buskirk interrupted to ask “Why do we need this?”
“We provide you better, more accurate ratings,” Benney responded. “CMA will give you more accurate ratings.” “Who is asking for this?” another attendee asked. “Energy efficiency,” he replied. “With this system, you will be sharing information [on the efficiency of products] and that’s a powerful tool.” He added, “It will result in higher efficient products.”
Attendees were very interested in the costs of the program and the field installation issues that could undermine the ratings which are developed under controlled circumstances. “We’re trying to give you a standardized bidding tool,” Benney said in response to a question on how CMA fit into the bidding system for contract glaziers. “Changes are coming. Buildings are going to have to be more energy-efficient,” he concluded.
Focus on Glazing
The discussion ended with the impact that LEED is having on contract glazing companies. The point was made that while contract glaziers are finding themselves involved in LEED projects, because it is so new and there is confusion and lack of knowledge about it, the contract glazing companies are finding that dealing with LEED is more time-consuming. Metal Products BreakoutA second breakout session focused on metal products. Kevin McMahon of K-Man Glass Corp. led the discussion. Problems with hardware was a major topic. The contract glazing company functions as hardware installer and must often deal with inappropriate hardware solutions. Owners who use their own sources for hardware, with resulting compatibility problems and missing parts, lead to headaches for installers. There was also a discussion on the increased use of canopies instead of skylights. The importance of the engineering of the canopy was stressed. The pros and cons of stick versus unitized curtainwall was another topic. Most of the attendees do not do unitized systems although many said they were very interested in what those companies that are doing unitized have experienced. One point was the need for a large storage area because the units have to be done and ready to be installed once the project moves to that point. The consensus was that there is more up-front time but overall time is saved on a project. —CC