Welcome to Glass and Window blog. This blog has had weekly entries since April 2010, making it one of the largest, longest, and most verbose blogs ever, with specialist focus on the glass and window industries.

The Glass Racking Company, a specialist supplier of glass and window factory handling and transportation solutions, with customers across the globe. Over time we have enjoyed working with clients to create solutions for them which save time, reduce rework and hence costs, and address health and safety requirements.

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This is the seventh blog is a series on what makes a good glass factory trolley. 

I've had some interesting feedback on this series of blogs on glass trolleys. One reader asked about the health and safety implications of having (or not having) brakes on trolleys. For those that work in factories where the floor is sloping you'll understand this issue. Most trolleys have castors with a push down brake which locks the castor. These work well unless the castor is a swivel (and they mostly are) as the castor has the ability swing under the trolley preventing the user from activating the brake. 

One option would be to use a similar system to the trolleys used in airports where the trolley can only be moved if a sprung loaded arm is held. Letting go springs the brake into action and holds the trolley. Has anyone tried this? What were the results? I'm keen to know.

22 February 2016

This is the sixth blog is a series on what makes a good glass factory trolley. 

Further to last weeks blog on the lean angle of A-frame and L-frame trolleys, the other trend we see is a move to harp or toaster style trolleys. In this format items are not stacked against each other but are stored individually allowing staff to add and remove items without touching or relocating other items. This saves time, reduces damage and hence rework costs, and simplifies storage.

Historically the down side of harp and toaster style trolleys was that they were built for loads of a specific thickness. If wider units where needed to be stored they wouldn't fit. We've developed a tooth storage system which overcomes this. Our tooth is designed specifically for glass and window, works very well, protects the product, saves time, and is a cost effective upgrade to many existing trolley systems.   

Tooth glass storage


This is the fifth blog is a series on what makes a good glass factory trolley. 

The most common structures for factory trolleys are A-frames and L-frames. The main benefit of an A-frame is that glass is shared across two storage area providing easier and quicker access to items. The main benefit of an L-frame is that it's narrower and easier to move around a factory.

Rather than focus on the pros and cons, in my opinion, the more important aspect of the trolley is the angle of the lean. Ideally product will be placed on trolleys at around 7 degrees allowing safe storage and movement of the product. Most transport systems prefer around 5 degrees lean at this creates a more space efficient trolley for transportation. The crossover is when 5 degree transport trolleys are used in a factory. Unless there is a form of retention (such as poles or safety arms) 5 degrees is too steep and can lead to glass falling of the trolley with rework and health and safety implications.

As more companies move to transport trolleys for glass transportation this is becoming more of an issue.

This is the fourth blog is a series on what makes a good glass factory trolley. For many years we used to finish all our factory trolleys with hot dip galvanising. This was because most glass factories were wet environments. The nature of the equipment available at the time, the processes used and the factory layouts and setups meant there was typically a lot of water on the floor. Nowadays this has changed dramatically with most if not all water processes being encapsulated and a lot more use of drying within the overall glass process.

So what is the best finish – raw, painted or galvanised?

I guess this is more of a user opinion. Some customers like galvanising as it is very permanent and gives an attractive appearance to equipment which can lead to the equipment being better looked after. Paint finish is cheaper but does rub and chip which can lead to unsightly rust marks. As a cheap option raw steel finish can work for some factories. At the end of the day the level of rust experienced on glass trollies is unlikely to lead to product failure so the finish is more about appearance and the impact of rust marking on products.


This is the third blog is a series on what makes a good glass factory trolley. The bearing surface is that part of the trolley which the payload of glass and/or windows leans against. Glass is easily scratched or shelled which makes it worthless, so keeping the glass in pristine condition within the factory environment is vital, and difficult.

Key attributes for the bearing surface of a glass and/or window trolley are :

1. Soft to the touch. A hard surface will chatter and potentially damage the glass or windows as the trolley is wheeled over uneven surfaces.
2. Not rubber. Rubber has oils which will soak into the glass surface. They may not be noticeable but if the glass gets condensation the marks then the rubber residue becomes very clear.
3. Not carpet or foam. These products will hold debris and swarf and then rub against the glass and/or windows. The bearing surface needs to be difficult to penetrate.
4. Not slippery. The surface should hold the product.
5. Locked in place. Items which are glued in place will often come loose and the nature of most factories is that these trolleys can have sections of bearing surface missing for some time before they are replaced. An inserted section is better.
6. Long life. A product which wears or changes its consistency (such as becoming brittle) is useless.

There are very few products which meet this spec. We developed a polymer bearing surface specifically for the glass and window industry many years ago and it has proved to be brilliant in all the areas listed above. We have a version which fits into our 2 rolled steel sections, and a version which fits into our 4 aluminium sections. We supply these sections and inserts to the glass and window industry for upgrades to existing trolleys, but we don't supply trolley manufacturers as that is a large part of our business which we developed these components for!  

This is the second blog is a series on what makes a good glass factory trolley. The castors at the base of the trolley are one of the most important features and often overlooked. Features to consider on a good castor for the glass and window industry are :

1. Large enough to roll over debris such as shelled glass, aluminium or PVC swarf (shavings), wrapping and dunnage as found in glass and window factories. 160mm (6 inches) is a minimum.
2. A hard plastic wheel which provides a softer ride but is not subject to puncture or picking up glass and other sharp fragments.
3. A rating to suit the load. All quality castors have a manufacturers load rating.
4. Ease of maintenance through grease nipples to lube the bearings and bolt on design for ease of replacement
5. A range of design options such as fixed, swivel, and braked swivel.
6. Proven track record of long life and reliability.

Just last week I was at a customer site where low cost imported trolleys had been purchased. The customer had then sourced replacement castors (which takes time and money) and gone through the process of replacing all the castors. That's 16 nuts and bolts to be undone then redone up per trolley, so a time consuming and expensive exercise.

This is the first blog is a series on what makes a good glass factory trolley. The humble glass trolley is one of the most used items in a glass factory, and is essential for meeting health and safety requirements, has the ability to dramatically improve factory efficiencies if used correctly, and is often one of the most poorly constructed and maintained items in the factory. 

In this first blog I'll focus on the right trolley for the right job. The right trolley is one which is sized for the glass items it carries. Overhangs are a health and safety concern for staff and lead to breakages, wastage, and rework. The point here is that most factories benefit from a range of trolley sizes and designs. Just because one trolley is right for one job doesn't mean it should be standardised on across the factory. Factory managers should identify the types of jobs and glass items which require specialist trolleys and equip the factory with these. The benefits will come.

Wasted time

Last night I was butchering two deer that my son and I shot in the weekend. Two whole animals take up a large space in our kitchen. Before we made the first knife cut we worked out a process of how we would butcher the meat with minimal movement and lifting. By reducing these two aspects of the job it was completed quickly and efficiently. I liken this to glass and window factories – the good ones are well thought out and you don't see a lot of staff movement between machines and around the factory. The staff are in position doing their work.

When factory staff in glass and window factories are standing in one position doing their work we gain many benefits. These include :
1. Improved productivity by that staff member
2. Reduced disruption to other staff members
3. Improved health and safety (mostly)
4. Improved quality

On a blog a couple of years ago I challenged glass and window factory managers to track the movement of their staff around their factories for a day, and record how much time is spent walking around. For most roles walking around is downtime in terms of production, but incurs the same costs. Once you know the times and the costs you can look at ways to reduce movement, and in many cases that "expensive" piece of factory handling or storage equipment suddenly becomes very affordable. In fact it becomes essential.

Taking this to the next level, how about spreadsheeting the time spent by each staff member away from their workstation, and send me a copy. I'll do my best to work on solutions for the biggest offenders which will reduce their downtime cost.

Product development

We're currently manufacturing some factory equipment for a glass company which is similar to items we've manufactured before, but on a much larger scale. They are longer, wider, and taller, and hence the materials and some parts of the design have been re-thought to make them work as the customer requires.

As a designer and manufacturer of this type of specialist equipment there is an enormous cost associated with product development. Nutting out the design details takes a lot of time. Sourcing all the components required takes a lot of time. Double checking all the workings takes a lot of time. All that time costs money. 

Another option for us as a company would be to just do the easy stuff and say no to the more challenging jobs. We would not develop solutions but just copy what others do. Our companies running costs would be less, and our pricing for the easy items would also be less. We wouldn't really be helping the glass and window industry, but it would be a lot easier.

However, that's not who we are. We have a strong and compelling passion to help glass and window companies to be more time efficient, to have less product damage and hence reduced rework costs, and to address health and safety needs and concerns. We honestly believe that the work we do helps the industry far beyond the simple manufacture and supply of steel items. 

The lines are crossing

The lines are crossing.

Imagine a line on a graph representing the average weight of glass items on a construction site over time. Go back 10 years, and go forward ten years. Imagine the line going from small and manageable to large and difficult.

Now imagine a line on a graph representing the cost of robotic glass lifting equipment. Go back 10 years, and go forward 10 years. Imagine the line going from very expensive (low production volumes = high cost) to affordable (high production volumes = low cost).

I believe the lines have crossed. The more work we do with installation teams understanding the challenges on site the more we see that Robots can address these issues. The more work we do with suppliers of this equipment the more we see how affordable and cost justifiable they are.

A client said recently that they want to get into this technology now so that they can take advantage of opportunities that they know are coming, rather than wait. Technology which is about break even now will become very profitable over its useful life.