The technological wave crashing over the glass and glazing industry took center stage during the final day of the Building Envelope Contractors (BEC) Conference. The annual event occurred in Nashville at the Omni Nashville Hotel. It was organized by the National Glass Association.

According to Stefanie Couch, founder of Build Women, the future of technology doesn’t just mean highly advanced computer numerical machines and robotics but more nuanced applications, such as artificial intelligence (AI).

Embracing the Power of Artificial Intelligence

According to Stefanie Couch, founder of Build Women, the future of technology doesn’t just mean highly advanced computer numerical machines and robotics but more nuanced applications, such as artificial intelligence (AI).

“The great part about AI is that you don’t have to be an expert on it because most people don’t know how to use it,” said Couch. “… There’s so much you can do with it.”

But how can people use AI in daily life? Couch said the technology is used daily, from phone facial recognition technology to self-driving cars and software programs such as Canva, Grammarly and ChatGPT.

ChatGPT, in particular, is changing how companies conduct business. Glass and glazing firms can use the software to optimize machinery, improve leads, organize data, conduct research, brainstorm, create outlines, generate summaries and more.

“AI saves companies time by starting the framework of where they want to go,” said Couch. “It doesn’t replace people.”

Couch added that younger workers love AI. She explained that if glass and glazing companies want top talent, they must embrace and be on the leading edge of technology adoption.

Exploring New Tech Entering the Glazing Industry

Conley Oster, co-founder and chief operating officer of Raise Robotics, walked attendees through recent technology advancements in field robotics and their implications. Raise Robotics recently partnered with TSI Corp. to install curtainwall brackets on a project in Virginia.

Oster explained that modern robotics can recognize patterns in data to identify components and highlight environmental discrepancies, plan motion decisions based on processed data and execute planned commands while streaming sensory data.

“Another massive improvement in robotics is the advancement of machine learning,” said Oster.

Machine learning helps robots improve machine algorithms’ speed, accuracy and robustness.

Oster said field robotics are used to reduce hazards, such as fall injuries, minimize uncomfortable working positions and remove repetitive motions.

Overall, Oster explained that robots can work in dynamic environments using AI and are constantly improving because of machine learning. He added that startups are better to work with than entrenched technology companies due to more freedom to adapt and innovate.

Project Manager Perspectives on Workflow

What makes a positive project experience? According to Alyssa Wolf, an estimator at Assured Glass, accuracy between estimators, project managers and field teams is key. This includes outlining accurate and complete performance requirements, including specification review, deviations and exclusions, detailed scheduling, timely product procurement and constant communication.

Matt Kamper of Woodbridge Glass said documentation is necessary because of the constantly moving pieces associated with a project.

“You fall to your systems; you don’t rise to your roles,” he said. “Miscommunication is a force multiplier.”

Kamper added that everything on a project needs to be documented, including dates, details, dollars and dimensions.

Daniel Cothern of Alexander Metals Inc. explained that thoroughness is often overlooked, especially from the information transition from the office to the field. At field kickoff, various details need to be known, such as system tolerances, the installation date and duration, pre-installation commitments, degree of shop fabrication, delivery methods and more.

“It’s important to determine your plan, approach, and how you want to land the plane,” said Kamper.

The BEC conference ends on March 5 and transitions into Glass Processing Automation Days, which runs until March 6. Stay tuned to usglassmag.com and follow USGlass Magazine for more news and updates on social media.

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