Glaziers deal with numerous challenges, from learning how to deal with many suppliers and parts to coping with different job conditions. Technology has helped alleviate some of the burden, which, in turn, has reduced the number of errors leading to callbacks. This is especially true for projects that require glass railings.

While uncommon, callbacks still occur despite the many systems that counter human error. Reasons for callbacks range from trade damages to measurement miscalculations to changing conditions.

Michael Mims, project manager and safety director for San Diego-based Long Glazing and Doors, says glass railings usually have tight clearances, particularly at handrails, adding to the complexity. Photo courtesy of Long Glazing and Doors.

Andy Russo, vice president of engineering and business development at Wixom, Mich.-based Glass + Metal Craft (GMC), says callbacks are extremely annoying, adding extra time and expenses.

He explains that callbacks can result from changes throughout the project, especially for projects that require glass railings around stairs. If a glazier takes measurements early in the process and changes are still being made to the structure, the conditions will fluctuate, impacting the final product.

“Your measurement starting and ending points may change,” he says. “Often, we install a stairway, and when we get out there, the conditions don’t match what was in the drawings and measurements. Along the way, someone added a plate, straightened something out, or changed the structure itself.”

Russo says that glass railings around stairs are complex. That’s because a staircase is a three-dimensional (3D) environment with a downward slope that could even feature curves. As such, it’s difficult for glaziers to measure properly. This contrasts with glass façade installations, which are mostly a height and width type of environment, says Russo.

Michael Mims, project manager and safety director for San Diego-based Long Glazing and Doors (LGD), adds glass railings usually have tight clearances, particularly at handrails, adding to the complexity. Angles must be precise, or a 1/16th of an inch will “stand out like a sore thumb.” Coordination between trades enhances the difficulties, he adds.

Additionally, Russo says the rigidity and lack of flexibility of glass railings often make installation difficult for glaziers.

“The stringers and mounting plates are mild steel, so those are fairly rigid,” he says. “The connection points are definitely rigid. You’re talking about posts, railing systems, and, in many cases, the glass. So, there’s not as much tolerance or flexibility in the loading. What tends to happen is that if one measurement is off, the entire thing is off.”

To minimize measurement errors and reduce callbacks, glazing companies use various methods and cultivate a culture of responsibility. Jason Wroblewski, executive vice president of Dallas-based Haley-Greer Inc., says glazing companies can reduce callbacks via proper training, planning, experience, leadership and culture. Mims says LGD adopted several quality management practices, leading to the company becoming the first glazing company in San Diego to earn the North American Contractor Certification.

“We hold ourselves to a higher standard than most,” says Mims. “Rigorous quality management processes leading up to the installation and verification procedures upon completion are how we mitigate punch list deficiencies…”

To read more of this story, be sure to grab a copy of the upcoming October 2023 issue of USGlass magazine. The story continues on page 24.

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