Glassbuild America opened today in Atlanta.

GlassBuild America is open despite earlier uncertainties surrounding the path and strength of Hurricane Irma. The National Glass Association (NGA) cited contractual and logistical obligations for its decision to move forward with its three-day show.

“There are many behind-the-scenes details – anything from AV needs and catering, to meeting room availability and speaker schedules – that prevent us from being able to shift times or dates,” said the NGA in a statement.

Many of the approximately 450 registered exhibitors are set up and greeting show attendants.

One of the main themes among exhibits at GlassBuild this year is automation. From software to machinery, companies are trying to find ways to make up for the lack of industry labor.

Soft Tech Group is showing its new automation module and scheduling software.

The Soft Tech Automation Module allows users to connect their company’s production line with Soft Tech’s design and estimation software. Users simply choose the extrusion automation needed and send the information along to the correct machine. According to Soft Tech, the software is easy and requires little training, allowing for long-term cost savings.

The Soft Tech Scheduling Software streamlines scheduling by automating employee shift and production scheduling. It looks allows users to schedule the right staff for the right job by looking at workers’ skills and efficiency.

Tubelite Inc. looks at achieving labor savings from more than just a product standpoint.

“With everyone struggling to get people on staff and train them, we actually partner with some of our key customers in the design phase of our products. After we launch them we’ll go back with our customers and ask, ‘Is this giving you what you need as far as labor savings?’ We’ve got some really good feedback like that,” said Mary Avery, vice president of marketing.

Hegla Corp. is showing its ReMaster, a horizontal cutting machine, but much of the company’s focus is on reducing the industry’s dependence on labor during labor shortages. Its sorting machines automatically sort glass for the next step in production, removing the potential for errors and poor-quality products.

“The inability to find workers is driving automation,” said Tom Bechill, sales manager at Hegla.

Wood’s Powr-Grip Co. Inc. is showing its IntelliGrip system, a microprocessor that conducts safety checks of its lifters’ vacuum cups. The company plans to test cool, new features to expand the IntelliGrip system’s applications among its products.

Wood’s Powr-Grip is also showing an integrated hoist control. The joy stick allows users to safety control the tilt of lifters holding large panes of glass.

GlassBuild America will continue through Thursday afternoon. NGA announced in a release this morning that NGA and the Glass Association of North America (GANA) “have unanimously approved combining the two associations into one, strong and unified voice for the glass and glazing industry.” will continue to provide coverage throughout the show’s duration.