Volume 46, Issue 12 - December 2011

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“glasstec is like Disneyland
for Glass People”
by Ellen Rogers and Charles Cumpston


So said Mike Kelley, who works in special projects with Tristar Glass. Kelly made his comment while surveying the event, October 23-26 in Dusseldorf, Germany. This year was Kelley’s fourth time at glasstec and he said it’s the one event to which he always looks forward. “The machinery is incredible. I could spend 20 minutes just watching those bottling lines. Do I need one? No, but they are so cool!”

Of course there’s more cool equipment to see at glasstec aside from those bottling lines. Companies traveled from around the world to set up their lines and demonstrate all the latest bells and whistles the machines had to offer the glass fabricating and processing industry.

Production Focus
In hall 17, Austrian machinery manufacturer Lisec occupied the majority of the floor space with its various pieces of equipment. Manfred Lesiak, the company’s marketing and event manager, said that in Europe the trend is toward triple-glazing.

“Lowe’s is now in the European market, and it is promoting energy efficiency, and this is helping the triple-glazing market,” he said, adding that more broadly around the globe, cost has been holding production down. “For example in Brazil they are building and using lots of glass, but it is not IG,” said Lesiak. “And Brazil is not a third-world country. In developing countries, it is difficult. There is less emphasis on IG.” He added, “But you can’t forget China and there it is growing for sure.”

Lisec displayed a number of innovations including a crane loading system. “We have a new way of transferring the glass,” Lesiak explained. “When the unit is going back to the pick-up position there is a time savings because it travels diagonally.”

So what does it take to fill the largest space at glasstec? Lesiak said that the company set up the equivalent of two factories in its booth if you consider all the machines that are in it. “We had 40 trucks just to bring in the machinery,” he said. “I have it set up in two U-shaped configurations, and it is an excellent use of the space.”

Edgetech GmbH also noticed a tremendous interest in energy efficiency and its warm-edge technology.

“The interest and buzz at the show was tangible as visitors to our stand were focused on energy efficient performance and cost effective warm-edge technology IGU production with our single-, dual- and triple-seal spacers,” said Andy Jones, managing director of Edgetech in Europe. “I honestly would say this year was bigger and better for visitors and exhibitors alike, and the quality of leads we got from across the globe was fantastic—in fact, just under 300 taken during the show.”

He added that attendees were very interested in productivity efficiencies and working with partners who understand how to take cost out of the manufacturing process whether manual, semi or fully automated.

“Following our 2011 acquisition by building products giant Quanex, we wanted to use glasstec as our first major glass exhibition opportunity to showcase the whole range of warm-edge technology solutions we now offer, including Super Spacer, Triseal, Duraseal and Duralite,” added Jones.

GED Integrated Solutions made its first trip to glasstec to showcase its IG solutions and company president and CEO Bill Weaver said it was well-worth the trip. The company featured its Automated Tri-Lite Assembly System (ATLAS), a glass fabrication system that automatically produces triple lite IG units in 20-second cycles (triples three units/minute, duals six units/minute).

“Triple glazing is rapidly becoming more popular with both specifiers and homeowners alike, but the normal production process is slow, cumbersome and fraught with potential for handling mishaps. This means the process is costly,” said Weaver. “The process is fully automated and facilitates a modern ‘no-touch’ approach to IG production that virtually eliminates breakages or remakes due to handling errors or accidental finger marking and scratches.”

Weaver reported that hundreds of attendees visited the stand where live demonstrations were being held throughout the event.

“Not only did GED log close to 300 international leads from 72 countries, but the exhibit itself was also sold from the stand,” said Weaver.

The new customer is UK-based Techniglass, an IG manufacturer with a factory in Mid-Glamorgan, Wales, which supplies window fabricators and installers all over the country. “The company is keen to be in a leading position for the rapid supply of triple-glazed units but sees the flexibility of ATLAS in also producing dual units every 10 seconds as an added bonus,” added Weaver.

Machinery demos in Grenzebach’s booth also drew lots of attention. The company featured its new stacker technology and, according to John Fluker, president and CEO, a key feature is the line’s ability to operate in various loading and unloading modes (tin and air side) without the need for additional mechanics. Plus, the machine is controlled entirely by software.

“We utilized synchronized motors on both sides,’’ said Fluker, who explained the rack can be auto adjusted without the need for mechanical changes to the stacker.

Robotic innovations were also on display in the Forvet booth, represented in the U.S. by IGE Solutions. Michael Spellman, IGE president and CEO, explained a robotic system has been added to the Chiara line that pics the glass up from the inventory, moves it to the cutting table for cutting and then transports it to the next table which cuts it in the X position before it’s moved on to the Chiara Game Changer, which grinds and polishes all four sides simultaneously. “There is no human intervention,” said Spellman. The next step, he added, is the glass moves onto the Francesca where it is drilled, milled and, new this year, water jet.

Getting Edgey
Neptun Srl, which was founded fewer than four years ago by Stefano Bavelloni (whose family had founded the former Z. Bavelloni), featured its line of glass processing machines, which included vertical and horizontal washing machines, straight-line edgers, vertical working centers and more. During glasstec the company launched the new straight-line edger Rock 11 with the exclusive Edge to Shape (ETS) function, According to Annemieke Van Orshoven, who works in sales and marketing the line has a laser system, which does the measuring, and is numerically controlled. She added that the line has a sturdy, solid body so there is little noise when in operation.

The ETS function is used to square the glass, set dimensions or bring it out-of square. In addition, it can define out-of-square geometries, which can be helpful for applications where the glass will be used on non-perpendicular walls.

Neptun also featured its new mitering machine, the Rock 10/45. The machine has 10 wheels and is made entirely in cast iron and steel. Van Orshoven said its sturdy construction, results in the absence of vibration when in use. Other features include spindles separated from the motor, an automatic centralized lubrication, a separated electrical cabinet, inlet conveyor with automatic adjustment and more.

Salem Distributing represents a number of machinery companies, including Bovone. Doug Mangus, Salem machinery sales manager, said Bovone was featuring a number of new lines, including a new 1145 edger. He explained this added an additional spindle to the traditional 1045.

“It gives flexibility to use air actuation spindles … which helps in polishing,” said Mangus.

In addition, Bovone featured a new robotic system that can transfer glass from one machine to the next, allowing one operator to work two machines.

Schiatti Angelo, represented by DeGorter Inc., also featured a number of new lines, including a new double edger. Dan DeGorter, vice president, explained the edger had been updated so the transformation shaft was moved from below to above; sensors and electronics were also upgraded, he said.

A CNC cutter with two heads and laser etching abilities was a new line for Bottero. William (Bud) Hudgins, sales manager, said it can edge delete, cut and label the glass.

“While one [head] cuts the glass the other is right behind it doing the logo,” he said.

Ashton Industrial was also on hand with its latest development, the ShapeSeam-Pro a robotic arrisser for automatically processing shapes without any pre-programming. Steve Ashton, managing director, said his company experienced a tremendous response and is expecting a lot of future business opportunities.

“Not only is this the world’s first seamer that fully automatically handles any shape and size without any pre-programming, it also has the benefits of handling very acute angles,” said Ashton. “It can even handle circles, ovals, etc.”

He added that it also comes at an attractive price point. “This is easily the lowest cost automatic seaming line we have ever built,” he said.

Hegla was also busy with a range of new developments. Tom Bechill, sales manager, said their new lines include a linear drive cutting table called the Optimax-Galactic, which has a cutting speed of 240m/m and the Galactic Plus, a 300m/m cutting speed. The company also has a new laser-marking option that can be mounted on any Hegla cutting table. Bechill said it can be used for marking product date, bar coding, etc. “Anything you want to mark on the glass,” he said.

The company also featured its new laminated glass cutter that can cut free-form shapes and models up to 360 degrees, but now can also store them.

One big draw for the company was its new two-line cutting solution for float glass and laminated glass, which is jointly fed by a compact loader. The ReMaster units buffer the residual glass above the cutting system until this material can be optimally used for the next cutting operation. Cost reduction potential can be leveraged with the SortJet at the end of the floatline. This feature stores the lites, which were processed in a chaotic, cut optimizing sequence, in its buffer and retains the sheets until all the glass required by an IG unit is available.

Bechill added that production developments are continuing to evolve and more and more options are being introduced. As an example, he added, “Sorting system [upgrades] are all geared toward triples.”

Clean Machine
Bohle featured a number of new equipment lines, including the recently introduced water treatment system. Dominik Hinzen explained the machine is used to clean water used in glass grinding, drilling and polishing. Clean process water within the machine circuit offers a number of advantages, such as high-quality grinding and polishing, improving the machine’s performance by up to 20 percent, increasing the service life of tools by up to 30 percent and keeping the process water alcaline free.

Hinzen added that his company was also showing its sandblasting machines, which Bohle built in its German plant. With the new SBM 2500P the dust-proof sandblasting cabinet automatically moves across the workpiece according to the specified program, frosting the surface in the required intensity. It has two high-end blasting guns with 4 boron carbide nozzles.

Also cleaning up, Benteler was featuring a new washer. Tom Burkholder, sales engineer, said it uses sponge rollers and has no blower.

“The water tank is off of the floor and insulated,” he said. “It also has a self-cleaning function.”

Strong Stuff
Nancy Mammaro of the Italian machinery manufacturer Mappi, said they enjoyed a strong turnout at glasstec and featured the new Lammiflex line for laminating PVB and EVA without an autoclave and without a climatic room.

“This is nice because not everyone has the budget for a full line and this is more flexible to use,” she said. “It’s a good solution for laminating PVB.”

She added while there seemed to be fewer Italian customers at the show, the U.S. presence was good.

“And we’re expecting the laminated market to grow in the U.S.,” she added.

Doug Canfield with Casso-Solar was also promoting his company’s autoclave-less line, and said the show was going well and he was quite busy seeing customers and others who were stopping by the booth.

On the tempering side, companies such as Yuntong and Glasstech both promoted their lines.

According to Jay Molter with Glasstech, his company featured a range of products for a number of industries, including the architectural market. He said in addition to the company’s ERH and FCH flat glass technologies, they’ve also increased the size of their architectural bender to 96 inches wide from 84 inches wide.

For the Finnish company Glaston, glasstec presented an opportunity to announce a new branding initiative.

“There is no more Bavelloni or Tamglass, only Glaston,” said Glaston president and CEO Arto Metsnen. “We are keeping all the brands. We will not destroy them; but, we’re not going to use them.” Metsnen said that everything will be known as Glaston from now on.

Looking Ahead
Just as machinery companies are already thinking about their next additions, launches and developments, plans for glasstec 2014 are already in the works as well. The event will again take place in October, though at press time dates had not yet been announced.

Italian Companies Take the Stage
The Italian association GIMAV had the largest national presence at glasstec. Its distinctive carpeting and signage dominated one complete large hall and its member companies occupied a total exhibit space of 15,000 square meters with 55 companies represented.

“We are optimistic,” said GIMAV’s president Cinzia Schiatti. “We think that things will be good here at glasstec and that we will be able to do business.”

“We have been seeing lots of people and they are hoping for better times. Certainly, conditions are better here at the show than they were two or four years ago,” added former GIMAV president Dr. Dino Fenzi. “It’s logical. You have cycles and there’s no way you can’t have a good cycle after a bad one.”

GIMAV director Renata Gaffo pointed out that the countries where growth was only partially slowed by the downturn (China, India and Brazil, most prominently), or the area showing the first signs of recovery (starting with North America), will be the core focus of attention for a global recovery.

“We want to be optimistic,” she said. “2011 was a good year after two difficult years, and 2012 started well, through May; but, by September there was a slowdown and now we think it will pickup by the end of the year.” The main problem, she said, is money. “Particularly small companies have problems getting loans from banks. And this is true around the world. With the lack of buying for two years, we think it is time for customers to start purchasing.”

Getting specific, she added, “Russia was a big market for us and it has slowed down, except for the big companies which can still get money.” She pointed out that luckily, “our companies are export-oriented, so when one part of the world is down, another part is up.”

The U.S. is “moving well,” she said. “In the last year, month by month, the market is growing again and we hope it is not just a move before the presidential election and that we will continue to see growth after the election.”

Ellen Rogers is the editor of USGlass magazine. Follow her on Twitter @USGlass and like USGlass magazine on Facebook to receive updates. Charles Cumpston is a contributing editor of USGlass magazine.


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