PPG Works on Repairs at California Glass Facility

PPG Industries has launched a $20 million repair project on its Fresno, Calif., flat glass facility. The company says it’s re-bricking its oxygen-fired glass furnace there after 15 years of continuous operation.

“The purpose of the scheduled outage is to restore the furnace’s original glass quality and environmental performance,” says Chuck Hanley, director of production for PPG. “We’ll also be using the time to perform plant-wide maintenance, including updating mechanical and electrical systems for continued long-term reliability.”

Hanley says the furnace is expected to be operating again in March 2016.

According to Hanley, re-bricking projects are undertaken in glass furnaces every ten to 15 years to replace worn-out refractory brick throughout the unit, including the containment vessel for the molten glass and the superstructure enclosure above the glass.

In September 2015, PPG suspended operations at the plant and declared a “force majeure” on the production of architectural, residential and specialty glass products for customers in the western U.S. and Canada because of “unanticipated mechanical production issues” at the location. (“Force majeure” is a legal clause in many contracts that relieves a company from meeting its obligations in the event of unanticipated causes that are beyond its control.) PPG lifted the force majeure at the end of September after it restored normal operations at the Fresno facility.

Problems at that plant appeared in PPG’s most recent financial statement for the fourth quarter of 2015. According to the company, glass segment income in that quarter, while up $5 million over the prior year, was “partially offset by weak manufacturing cost performance related to the Fresno, Calif., flat glass facility, which is scheduled to undergo a major repair project in the first quarter 2016.”

The Fresno plant, which has been in operation since 1967, produces flat and tempered glass for the residential and commercial construction markets. It employs 140 people and is one of the company’s key manufacturing facilities, along with its Carlisle, Pa., and Wichita Falls, Texas, locations. The company’s Mount Zion, Ill., facility was sold last year.

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