Volume 47, Issue 10 - October 2012
The USGlass Annual Guide
to Equipment AND Machinery
Looking for details on some of the industry’s newest machinery launches? Read on for an overview of some of these. Also, be sure to turn to page 42 for our preview of the upcoming glasstec show in Düsseldorf, Germany, and a look at some of the machinery that will be on display there.
INSULATING GLASS MACHINERY
Among its many offerings, the company’s automated secondary
sealer with integrated gas fill speeds cycle times by allowing operators
to gas fill and apply secondary seal to IG units simultaneously.
In addition, the “open” design of this high-pressure melter supports high-viscosity materials and the large-volume outputs required in secondary sealing of IG units. The melters also offer quick, easy installation on linear extruders as well as most other edge sealers, according to the company.
Additionally, VersaDrum melters support manual systems for
fourth-corner patch or handgun use.
GLASS HANDLING EQUIPMENT
GLASS CUTTING MACHINERY
Among these is the company’s laminated glass cutting machine, as well as glass cutting machines with a laser scanner system with electronic positioning, a precious cutting bridge made of aluminum, hydraulic tilting feature, straight and shape glass cutting feature, low-E edge deletion system for straight and shaped glass, and a vinyl glass cutting feature.
CMS processing machines include a vertical drilling machine, horizontal drilling machine, double edging machines, beveling machines, glass shape edging machine, flat and variable miter machine, glass sand belt grinding machine, and edging machine.
Additionally, CMS has insulating glass washing lines and
A Sharp Deal
The Union Tool roller coating applies smoothly with few
striations, according to the company. The company’s roller coaters also
are designed to provide easy changeovers from color to color or product
DECORATIVE GLASS MACHINERY
According to the company, the c-vertica is a futuristic
system that not only enables the cost-effective finishing of glass surfaces
with custom structures and motives but also the introduction of two- and
three-dimensional decors inside the glass. The system utilizes a high
processing speed to create new designs for interior rooms and facades
for glass sizes up to 3,210 by 6,000 mm.
New Silkscreen Printing Options Available
On the Front Line
Hank Groves, owner of Groves Inc. of Woodstock, Ill., has been in the glass industry for 50-plus years. His years working for, and then owning his own, glass and mirror company prepared him well to know what glass companies need in the way of equipment handling.
“My whole background has been glass and mirror, and since then, I [have] furnish[ed] racks not only for the glass industry but for the stone, marble and granite industry,” Groves says.
While not all equipment handling or machinery manufacturer employees have owned their own glass company like Groves has, many equipment and machinery manufacturer officials agree with Groves’ idea: new equipment and machinery ideas arise from customers’ needs.
The Initial Spark
“The initial spark for many ideas comes directly from the front line, namely the people who use our equipment for manufacturing their own glass products, our customers,” Ashton explains. “Sometimes it might come directly from the machine operators. An example would be the guy placing spacer frames on to glass lites on an insulating glass line.”
When Ashton asked this machine operator how he would change the machine given the opportunity, the machine operator pointed out the line was laid out to cope with large maximum glass sizes, and it was difficult to reach the top edges.
“[The operator] had to stand on a step ladder, and keep climbing down to move the ladder along the length of the glass,” Ashton explains, saying the solution came to him weeks later, as he was climbing into a tram in Vienna, Austria.
“As the doors opened, a step swung out from underneath. We subsequently designed a long step that the operator could swing out at the push of a button, wide enough to walk along to accommodate any length of glass unit,” Ashton says.
Tim McGlinchy, executive vice president of engineering, research and development for GED Integrated Solutions, says his Twinsburg, Ohio-based company also acquires machinery, software and product ideas when visiting customers’ plants.
“I often go to customers and not only see what they are currently doing, but also try to investigate and see what their challenges are in existing processes. A lot of customers don’t always know what to ask for in a new product or process to solve a problem. I just start asking questions, which leads to ideas and solutions,” McGlinchy says.
Most equipment and machinery manufacturers say they are approached weekly or monthly with new ideas, and while new ideas always sound like a good idea, there are challenges, too.
Communication is Key
The process that a product goes through from its concept to release varies greatly from company to company.
Andrew Weidenhamer, sales engineer for Nanuet, N.Y.-based Casso Solar Technologies, manufacturer of industrial infrared and combination infrared or convection systems for the glass industry, says the overall process from concept to customer proposal could take up to about a month’s time, but “since most equipment is custom-tailored, it requires constant testing for the particular application.”
Thomas Bechill, sales manager for Atlanta-based Hegla Corp., which produces glass handling equipment, says, “Some [products] can be as short as a few weeks while others take years depending on the complexity and research and development required. It really depends on the scope and complexity of the upgrade and other items also required or impacted by upgrade.”
McGlinchy says when customers work with GED, his company utilizes a new product request process. He explains that this new formalized product request procedure helps GED understand the scope of the product, feasibility and risk involved for both parties.
“We also establish an estimate for the scope of engineering hours that is required in order to adequately research, develop, build, test and install the product. In addition, we determine what the strategic value is that will potentially lead to repeat sales,” he explains.
Customers admit to challenges, but seem appreciative of manufacturers’ abilities to meet their needs.
Mike McHugh is president of Solon, Ohio-based Caliber Glass Inc., a glass company that manufactures mall storefront entrances, shower doors and mirror walls and has worked closely with Ashton Industrial. He agrees that a big challenge is making sure the machine concept is clear between the customer and machinery manufacturer.
“Properly defining the exact need and requirements [is a challenge],” McHugh says.
McHugh says he would work with Ashton again because “Steve Ashton has common sense and practical ideas as to the best way to accomplish an objective, and when Steve commits to making something work, he keeps his employees focused on the task until the customer is satisfied.”
Glasswerks chief operating officer Dennis Jasmer concurs with McHugh, but was more specific about a machinery challenge his company faced.
“The biggest original challenge [we faced] was to seam custom-sized tempered products, including soft-coat low-Es,” Jasmer says.
“The original line into the United States was found and negotiated by Lance Porter of All Weather in the Vacaville, Calif., location. It worked well, but needed some additional engineering to meet all of the customers’ requirements, which today has been accomplished. Steve [Ashton] has been very helpful with his ability to meet the need of our organization,” Jasmer adds.
Not all new equipment or machinery concepts have a happy ending for the manufacturer, though.
Groves tells of a time when he made a prototype for a solar company. He designed racks for the top of buildings to haul solar panels, and his company went back and forth with this solar company on the design of the product for eight months.
“We made the final product, turned around and put it on a truck and shipped it. The next day … they went under,” he recalls. “We got a hold of the trucking company and had the shipment turned around and the rack brought back. That was a sad scene because we had thousands of dollars invested in the development of these racks. Sometimes they don’t turn out so good.”
While others may have not have faced the disappointment Groves did, manufacturers warn that there can be delays in the process, but that’s why many of them have a beta stage of development. Delays or problems tend to happen especially in the beta stages.
Choosing Strategic Partners
“We actually go through what we call a beta test process,” McGlinchy explains. “After we’ve determined and developed a concept machine in R&D, [the Alpha machine concept], this process removes and reduces risks [and] concerns and proves that the new technology or concept will work and can be successfully used as a solution to the problem or opportunity that needs to be addressed in the field.”
He says his company will then build a production model similar but more refined to take to the market for beta test and prove this process and machine in the manufacturing environment.
“This process can take anywhere from a month to six months in duration,” McGlinchy says, adding that once the beta test has been successfully completed, the new product can be released for commercialization to the rest of the market.
Colleen McKeegan of Canton, Mich.-based McKeegan Equipment and Supply, which produces insulating glass fabrication equipment, says her company also reaches out to customers in order to develop, design and test its products, although the amount of time it takes to complete the process will “vary depending on the details.”
It’s clear that in the glass industry, equipment and machinery manufacturers are looking to help their customers improve their manufacturing processes.
Ashton says, “We always like to find a cooperative customer willing to take the first machine in return for a special deal … and work with us on long-term monitoring and improvements in a real production environment.”
Samantha Carpenter is a contributing writer for USGlass magazine.