More than 100 glass machinery and software industry members gathered this week in San Diego for GPAD.
More than 100 glass machinery and software industry professionals gathered this week in San Diego for GPAD.

Quality—not necessarily quantity—is the goal at Glass Processing Automation Days (GPAD). FeneTech president and CEO Ron Crowl said the conference, being held this week in San Diego, has grown at a rate of 15 percent per year. More importantly, key players in the industry are able to gain valuable knowledge, share ideas and make important networking connections.

“The objective is not to turn it into a huge event, but instead a focused event,” he said, noting the importance of education in the industry. “When you go to trade shows, you can see the equipment and talk to representatives from companies … but there’s no centralized conversation on automation integration.”

Ron Crowl of FeneTech speaks to GPAD attendees about the importance of automation integration.
Ron Crowl of FeneTech speaks to GPAD attendees about the importance of automation integration.

That conversation began Tuesday and continued Wednesday at the Catamaran Resort Hotel & Spa.

“Quality, productivity and safety—all of these things tie together,” said Cliff Green, president of TSS Sales & Service.

Automation has been driven by customer demand for higher quality standards, increase in employee costs and a bigger focus on workplace safety. Green said Europe has always been “way ahead” of the United States in terms of automation, but the U.S. is catching on.

He gave a presentation on the automation of glass processing from cutting through tempering, including seaming and furnace batching. Seaming, for example, is a difficult job to do manually and can cause back injuries. Also, he pointed out, an inconsistent grind can increase furnace breakage.

Doug Mangus, machinery sales director at Salem Distributing, discussed robotics, which depend on glass dimensions and cycle time.

He showed examples of Bovone robotic machines and their customability, noting that the robots’ ability to move glass from one machine to the next can reduce worker comp claims and ensure quality, as there is no room for human error in dropping the glass or risk of cutting.

Forel North America general manager Michael Schmidt gave an overview of current manual and automated insulating glass unit (IGU) processing techniques.

He noted the importance of ERP software such as FeneTech’s, which “provides more guidance to the operator.”

“That interface at the start of the line is allowing greater control, greater feedback and more effectively run units down the line,” he said.

Wednesday, Joe Erb, commercial sales specialist with Quanex, also addressed IGU processes and how they’re evolving.

“There are lots of drivers forcing manufacturers to be more efficient with processes,” said Erb, noting government initiatives, codes, energy bills, etc.

Erb gave a presentation showing how a structural silicon spacer and new advances in insulating glass production systems can increase process efficiencies, improve aesthetics and maintain high quality.

“Automated systems reduce potential for error and increase consistency and throughput,” he said.

Stay tuned to USGNN.com™ for continued coverage of GPAD.