Safti First Designs Glass Border Wall as Alternative to Steel, Concrete

Border wall discussions have been the source of much debate in Washington, D.C., and the partial government shutdown has kept these debates in the news. One glass company believes it has a glassy solution for the wall that would be less expensive and offer more overall protection than the steel or concrete wall prototypes currently being considered.

Safti First president and CEO William O’Keeffe says his company has designed a glass wall with a triangular base that is compatible with other materials such as steel, concrete and pipes. He has visited lawmakers in Washington, D.C., to pitch the company’s idea since there is no formal request for statements of qualification out currently from the U.S. government.

The proposal includes 1-inch laminated security glass that is bullet-resistant. A single glass lite would be approximately 14 feet 6 inches by 7 feet and weigh 1,320 pounds. Each unit has two panels. The glass would be positioned at 45-degree angles to help deflect projectiles.

“The glass would be used wherever aesthetically necessary along the border such as golf courses and in cities. Instead of looking at a solid barrier, people would be able to look through to see what’s on the other side. A solid barrier is uncomfortable,” says O’Keeffe.

He says the triangular base is key to the design because of its compatibility with other materials. The design can be modified easily to suit many applications. The 4,600-pound base could be placed by a crane or helicopter and then filled with concrete. With glass and supporting hardware/equipment, the total installed unit weight would be approximately 8,000 pounds. The units would be attached to adjacent units to form a linked barrier. Each unit would have a seismic detector to identify tunneling underneath the wall. O’Keeffe says this is more cost effective than having to do construction at the site to place rebar and concrete 6 feet underground, the method that is being considered currently.

“We are still in the development phase and costing for each configuration is in process. We are confident our product can be produced and installed for less than traditional construction methods. Our barrier will be built in a controlled mass production facility and because of its modular design it can be simply placed onsite with little to no excavation required,” says Peter Reid, vice president of special projects at Safti First.

The units would be packed with technology such as 24-volt batteries run on solar panels for each unit that power lights and day and night cameras. Drones can be sent remotely to patrol an area and then charged through contact charging. Portions of the wall can be opened remotely to allow wildlife or people to go through as needed.

Billco Celebrates 70 Years

Equipment manufacturer Billco celebrated 70 years in business in 2018—an accomplishment that officials attribute to innovation and adaptability.

Billco was founded in 1948, in Zelienople, Pa., by the Billinger family. In 2008, the company was acquired by a group of its managers, who, according to company president Phil Plant, have continued to foster the same tight-knit family business atmosphere, while remaining dedicated to its founding qualities and values.

“Over the past seven decades, we attribute Billco’s success to the hard-working individuals who have worked together with a constant focus on upholding the quality and values our company was built on,” says Plant. Billco marketing manager Danielle Blewitt says the company owes its many prosperous years to its hard-working individuals.

The company has reached many milestones over the years, beginning in 1962 with the first flip-top glass washer. Its most recent innovations include the Remnant Storage solution, which automatically tags and stores leftover glass for automated retrieval.

The company has faced a number of challenges including foreign competition and market recessions.

According to both Plant and Blewitt, Billco has continued to look for new opportunities that help the company remain competitive during challenging times.

“In order to weather the challenges posed by the ups and downs of the market, we have also been diversifying our equipment offerings and have been marketing to new industries,” says Plant.

Going forward, Blewitt says one of the company’s main goals includes companywide improvements and automation.

“It’s an exciting time for us as we improve our processes, innovate new products and improve existing ones,” says Plant, adding that they are looking forward to the next 70 years.

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