Glass Industry Focuses on Automation at Vitrum

By Jordan Scott

Automation and increased efficiencies were major trends at Vitrum this year, given the labor shortage which has been driving companies to seek alternate ways to meet demand during a strong economy. The show, which took place October 1-4 with 267 exhibitors, brought nearly 12,000 people from 85 different countries to Milan, Italy, for a first-hand look at the latest in glass processing machinery and glass products.

While Vitrum has a global reach, the majority of the exhibitors and attendees were Italian. European hospitality was evident with coffee and hors d’oeuvres aplenty as glass company representatives networked with current and potential customers. A welcoming party, complete with drinks and a DJ, gave the industry another chance to interact off the show floor.

Typical of Milan, it was difficult to tell apart some of Vitrum’s attendees from attendees of the leather trade show being held for the fashion industry in the halls next door, as everyone is so stylish.

The trade show floor was the main stop for Vitrum attendees but four seminars took place, giving them a look at some of the trends facing the industry, particularly the glass machinery side of the business. The show also featured a section devoted to art glass, a nod to the cultural heritage of Murano, Italy, an island off of Venice known for its glass artistry.

A Combined Effort

Glaston and Bystronic shared a booth for the first time at Vitrum. Glaston Corp. chief operating officer and deputy CEO Sasu Koivumäki said the company has been increasing automation across its product lines, and reducing the operator’s role through software such as Glaston Insight Reporting and Insight Assistant Pro. Koivumäki said the company is applying these processes on the Bystronic side as well.

Glaston has also partnered with Heliotrope to manufacture the machinery that can be used to make NanoEC smart glass. The product includes a thick polymer layer in between two glass lites that allows the unit to achieve a dark tinting state.

The company also showcased its Glaston Siru app, which is free to download. The app allows fabricators to take a picture of broken, tempered glass using their phone or tablet to count the cullet pieces within a specific area.

Automation Station

Automation and Industry 4.0 continue to be major themes. CMS’s Connect software implements the Industry 4.0 concept, connecting machinery with maintenance, inventory and processing. The unified interface will be available on all of the company’s machines going forward, no matter what type of control system it has.

“It’s easy to use with a touch screen and big buttons,” said Chris Cullum, national sales manager for the glass division.

The cloud-based software can export status reports and CMS can use the data to help develop updates to its machines.

The company also highlighted its Speed Double-Head CNC machine which uses two heads, doubling its output. Cullum said this is especially useful for laminated glass and IGUs.

Mappi recently entered into a partnership with Siemens to use its MindSphere software system. The cloud-based system will allow its customers to track energy management and production data. It can be connected to a computer or phone, providing real-time consumption and production data. Automation manager Giulio Dalla Costa said that the company’s existing machines can also be upgraded to include the software.

Forel showcased a few of its new machinery solutions, including the Art.FA large size frame applicator and the Art.SS sorting system. Frames can be assembled directly on the applicator horizontally. Then the machine tilts the glass vertically and the frame adheres to the glass surface due to a localized pressure system. The glass can then be placed on a vertical line. The applicator can be used with glass as large as 236 by 130 inches and as
small as 118 by 59 inches.

Forel’s sorting system organizes and manages glass lites until they are ready to be moved to another line or process. This reduces operator risk and glass waste.

Adelio Lattuada is increasing its automation capabilities with motorized spindles on its TRL AV-11 straight line edger. According to technical service manager Joseph Gates, an operator doesn’t have to look under the machine to make sure the 11 spindles are functioning properly. The operator will receive alerts when it’s time for them to be adjusted. Gates said that when the machine is installed it comes with several recipe selections. The operator just needs to select the thickness and the machine will set the
parameters.

“I hope people in the U.S. find it as interesting as I do,” said Gates, adding
that the company can automate any of its 38 models.

The company has also increased the speed of its robot solution for loading and unloading glass. In the past it took an average of 12 seconds. By changing the direction in which the robot moves the company was able to reduce that to 8 seconds.

Automation was also a theme at Schiatti Angelo’s booth. The company is celebrating its 50th anniversary and how far it’s come technologically during that time. According to Pete DeGorter, manufacturers agent for DeGorter, Schiatti’s distributor, the company has added a self-adjusting diamonds feature that eliminates operator influence. It automatically adjusts the machine according to the ware of the diamonds. The operator
will receive notifications about the adjustments.

Improved Efficiencies

DeGorter is also a distributor for Pujol, which highlighted its new chemical tempering oven at the show. DeGorter said the oven is able to temper thin glass that can’t be tempered by thermal ovens. He expects chemical tempering to become more popular within the glass industry as thin glass becomes increasingly in demand for digital storefront applications. The company’s new Pujol 100 continuous oven can produce a batch every 19 minutes.

Evalam CIR was another focal point of the Pujol booth. The EVA-based interlayer has many of the same performance characteristics of low-E glass, according to DeGorter. It is laminated between two lites of glass and two EVA layers. It allows 90% of visible light to pass through the glass while maintaining clarity, unlike traditional low-E coatings, according to DeGorter, who adds that it blocks UV and infrared rays.

New Directions

Bavelloni’s booth included a dedicated section for its tools company. The tools were available for attendees to see and touch and experts were on hand to answer questions. The company recently became a majority owner of Yalos, creating the company Yalos Bavelloni Srl. The company displayed an HW2600 stainless steel washing machine. The company also demonstrated a new function for its CNC vertical drilling machine. It can now process parallelogram shapes and create notches and holes on irregular shapes. This can be used for applications such as balustrades and stair railings.

Intermac has entered into a new market and is now also producing washing machines. Its Aqua range consists of a series of vertical washing machines which can be integrated with the company’s Vertmax vertical machining centers. Director of product department Matteo Traini said the advantage of this new washing machine series is that customers can have a complete cell made by Intermac that is completely integrated.

The company’s Sophia platform also has new features, including preventative maintenance capabilities and the Sophia calendar, which allows operators to schedule maintenance actions manually or semi-automatically. Intermac’s booth also featured the Master 33.3 machining center in conjunction with a Robotically Operated Systems robot. The machine also features helix technology, a tool that can create up to 95% of hole sizes.

Vitrum 2021 will take place October 5-8, 2021 at Fiera Milano in Milan.

Jordan Scott is an assistant editor for USGlass magazine. She can be
reached at jscott@glass.com.

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