“Explain this to me like I’m a 2-year old, because there’s an element to this thing that I can’t get through my thick head.” Those somewhat paraphrased words were from Denzel Washington’s character Joe Miller in 1993’s movie, Philadelphia. For me, someone with a non-technical background working in an increasingly high-tech industry, they’re also words I’ve all but said (at least thought) on more than one occasion when trying to understand glass and glazing industry products and technologies. It can be tough. But one thing that’s easy to understand is everyone’s goal is a happy customer. So, what makes a customer happy?

For one, receiving their glass on time; let’s make that receiving their high-quality glass on time. How do they get it? From a highly efficient, safety conscious supplier. And in this day and age of increasingly high-tech products and processes, the focus on safety, quality and efficiency is critical—critical to having a happy customer.

But how do we get there? For some companies the answer lies in automation.

At first thought, “automation” may conjure up images of fabrication facilities filled with robots rolling around. But Jetson-like facilities are still decades ahead of us. Simply put, the more a process can be automated, the less it needs manual control. This not only reduces the chance of error, but also increases the level of safety.

As incredible as it all seems, it’s not as simple as just buying some new equipment and plugging it in. There’s a lot to consider. Where do you start? What do you buy first? Which processes should you automate?

Machinery suppliers can help you navigate the process. You have to figure out what’s right for your plant and your business model. Do you turn out a lot of the same type of glass or are you more of a custom shop? These factors can play a part in where you go with automation.

What has your company done with automation? Have you invested in or considered new equipment? What made you do so? As always, your comments and feedback are welcome.