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 weeks blog is the tenth in a series of changes we've experienced in the glass and window industry in the last 25 years, and changes we've made to our company and its products to suit the industry we serve.

Many of the very large glass processing companies have employed senior managers from outside of the glass industry to assist with management of the factories. Traditionally knowledge of glass and the glass industry was the key criteria for these jobs, but increasingly we see senior managers with specialist manufacturing skills being inserted into key roles. As these factories become more highly automated the "touching" of the glass by staff becomes less, and it's almost like the uniqueness attributed to the glass product itself becomes less. It's all about the process.

The challenges for the factories remain the same. Cost of manufacture, speed to manufacture/deliver, reduction of rework and wastage, and addressing health and safety. These are the same challenges faced in all manufacturing factories and are not specific to glass. Any experience from any background which can assist a glass company with achieving improvements in these areas has got to be good for the industry as a whole.

As a company we help our customers to save time, reduce damage and rework, and address health and safety. This has not changed in 25 years.

This weeks blog is the nineth in a series of changes we've experienced in the glass and window industry in the last 25 years, and changes we've made to our company and its products to suit the industry we serve.

In the last couple of blogs we've looked at challenges resulting from standardisation of double glazing in some markets. 

From a glass manufacturers perspective this change has created rifts. There are those with the ability to purchase the capital equipment to process and manufacture double glaze units efficiently, and those that can't. Many smaller glass companies, many of which have been very successful in the single glaze market, have all but stopped manufacture. They now source their double glaze units from companies who have invested in DGU lines, and focus on installation work. The cutting tables and racks for storing packs of glass which were once fundamental to the business now lie somewhat dormant. 

For the DGU manufacturers the challenges in their factories are far greater than just funding a double glaze line. The issues of DGU weight and the space/capacity required to store and transport DGUs are very real. Much of this can be addressed more easily with scale, and we now see massive glass factories, far larger than ever before. These large factories use cranes (which we supply) throughout their factories for lifting individual units, and have storage and transportation solutions (which we also supply) which are very specific to large volumes of DGUs. This leads to efficiencies which it's difficult for small volume manufacturers to compete with.

Looking forward it would seem the large highly automated factories will continue to get larger, while smaller companies will specialise in niche markets and products to remain viable. Both types on companies will need the glass factory handling and transportation solutions we provide to create safe and efficient work environments.  

As a company we help our customers to save time, reduce damage and rework, and address health and safety. This has not changed in 25 years.

This weeks blog is the eighth in a series of changes we've experienced in the glass and window industry in the last 25 years, and changes we've made to our company and its products to suit the industry we serve.

Last week we looked at the volume increases required in factory storage and transportation for double glaze units. Another challenge is the increasing weights of double glaze units.

At twice the weight of a single glaze pane, double glaze creates all sorts of challenges for the window manufacturers and their products, be they aluminium or PVC. Overtime the amount of aluminium in the window sections has been increased to accommodate the weight increases, and very recently we've seen changes to the fundamental design of some window suites. We provide lifting solutions for window factories to assist staff to lift, handle and process these heavy units, plus we help with factory designs and equipment which limit the need for lifting and moving.

For transportation of finished goods to site many fabricators and installers have a renewed focus of reducing damage and rework. Damage to a double glaze unit on its way to being installed creates a far bigger problem and more lengthy and expensive fix than did damage to a single glaze unit. The actual costs of rework of finished goods has been discussed previously in this blog, and is quite horrific. It's quite simply unaffordable. Our pole based Window Transportation Solution protects the finished goods by ensuring no hard surface touches the product from the time it leaves the final glazing rig, and the poles retain the units perpendicular to the vehicles frame which greatly reduces movement while in transportation. All that means less damage, less rework, and lower costs.

As a company we help our customers to save time, reduce damage and rework, and address health and safety. This has not changed in 25 years.

This weeks blog is the seventh in a series of changes we've experienced in the glass and window industry in the last 25 years, and changes we've made to our company and its products to suit the industry we serve.

The adoption of double glaze as the norm for residential windows has been relatively new in some markets. The impact on the industry has been enormous. A single glaze window pane at 5mm thick is quite different from a double glaze unit of 5mm glass pane, a 10mm space and another 5mm glass pane. The weight doubles and the volume required to store and transport these units increases 4 fold.

In factories we've seen the space required for storing double glaze units suddenly become a problem. We supply our tooth style trolleys for storage of double glaze units at glazing companies and window fabricators which assists with making the units easier to access, but the issue of sheer space required remains.

With transportation traditional external racks were home built and used a steel channel as the ledge. Many of these had 80mm or less of width, which was acceptable in a single glaze market, but falls very short when loading double glaze. Our van and ute (pickup) racks have 200mm wide ledges with 120mm of useable load space which makes loading larger volumes of double glaze possible. (Making ledges any wider than this can cause weight load issues for the vehicle).  

Many customers now have dual external racks plus internal racks to allow them to load the required volume of double glaze units.

As a company we help our customers to save time, reduce damage and rework, and address health and safety. This has not changed in 25 years.

This weeks blog is the sixth in a series of changes we've experienced in the glass and window industry in the last 25 years, and changes we've made to our company and its products to suit the industry we serve.

An increase in the number of homes which are truly massive. During the weekend I met with a project manager for a building construction company which is building a complex of buildings for a wealthy client in a relatively remote part of Central Otago. The scale of the buildings and the build detail was astonishing. The home is already over 3 years in the build. Likewise we're doing some work on another monstrous home which is over 5 years in the build. The scale on these residential structures has not been seen before in these markets.

For glass and window companies there are opportunities to become recognised as specialists in this size and quality of build. The equipment needed for the builds and installations is more like commercial than residential. In some cases the interaction with the owners, building company, architects and engineers is quite different from traditional residential projects. 

Some glass and window manufacture and installations require specialist one-off equipment which is an area where we can help. Our skills and componentry designed specifically for the glass and window industry means we can design and build (and certify if required) all manner of equipment for challenging manufacture and installation projects. 

As a company we help our customers to save time, reduce damage and rework, and address health and safety. This has not changed in 25 years.

This weeks blog is the fifth in a series of changes we've experienced in the glass and window industry in the last 25 years, and changes we've made to our company and its products to suit the industry we serve.

The birth of retrofit double glazing. This new business within the wider glass and window industry has spawned new companies, new products and new ways of doing business. Within retrofit double glazing there are groups of companies which specialise in aluminium joinery, timber joinery, and those which can do both. Some aluminium die holders have developed aluminium extrusions to assist with retrofitting their old suites, and some companies have franchise solutions for retrofitting into timber window frames.

To help retrofit double glaze companies we've developed site trolleys and site lifting solutions which lift, hold, move and manipulate the glass items, reducing fatigue and the likelihood of injury, while also saving the installers time. We also provide glass frails (external racks), internal racks, trailers, trucks and other glass and window transport solutions. For complete replacement sashes and doors our pole based Window Transportation Solution is popular.

As a company we help our customers to save time, reduce damage and rework, and address health and safety. This has not changed in 25 years.

Changes in the glass and window industry part 4

This weeks blog is the fourth in a series of changes we've experienced in the glass and window industry in the last 25 years, and changes we've made to our company and its products to suit the industry we serve.

Automation of processing within window fabrication companies. 25 years ago aluminium and PVC windows were in their infancy in my home markets, with timber joinery being the established norm. The process for fabricating aluminium windows was relatively easy back then as the extrusions were very simple and the range of options available to the end customers were very limited. A drop saw and a powerdrill were the key tools for a start-up window fabrication company.

How things have changed. We see many medium sized window fabricators investing in the CNC processing equipment which was previously reserved for the very large fabricators. This equipment speeds production, improves accuracy, and in some cases is a requirement for processing certain extrusions.

We don't supply CNC equipment but we do supply much of the equipment which surrounds these expensive high tech machines. The trolleys, benches and storage systems. Maybe not so glamorous as CNC, but the things we supply do help our customers to get the most out of the CNC machines, and help them run their factories efficiently and safely.

Our equipment is more high-tech than it was back when we started. We've developed polymers which are non-marking and protect glass and windows, helping reduce rework. We've sourced a brilliant range of castors to assist our clients to easily move trolley loads of heavy product around the factories. Our tooth is a highly innovative solutions for DGU and sash/door storage and movement. Along with other components and products we've developed processes with reduce double handling and assist clients to maximise the productivity of their key staff and machinery. 

As a company we help our customers to save time, reduce damage and rework, and address health and safety. This has not changed in 25 years.

Changes in the glass and window industry part 3

This weeks blog is the third in a series of changes we've experienced in the glass and window industry in the last 25 years, and changes we've made to our company and its products to suit the industry we serve.

Health and safety is an area which has become more defined in terms of rules to protect the workers. It's no longer acceptable or legal to have "strong men" do all the heavy lifting in the factory and at sites. Law now dictates an allowable weight to be lifted per person, which leads to either high numbers of staff or mechanisation of lifting. 

We first saw the effects of this with an upswing in site trolleys to assist with moving glass and window items around sites. There was also a need for cranes within factories for operating underneath the main factory gantry crane and lifting individual units of up to 500kgs or 1000kgs. The efficiency gains over using multiple staff members was and still is a no-brainer. Most factories want more cranes. Most installation crews want more and better trolley solutions.

We believe that the next trend will be for robotic lift, carry and manipulate devices. The manipulation will be on and off factory machinery, and at the final point of installation.

The Glass Racking Company provides all these solutions, is continually developing new solutions, and continually seeking out specialist suppliers' products which we can onsell and service as part of our overall offering to the industry.


 

 

Changes in the glass and window industry part 2

This weeks blog is the second in a series of changes we've experienced in the glass and window industry in the last 25 years, and changes we've made to our company and its products to suit the industry we serve.

When we built our first glass van frails (external racks) we fabricated them in aluminium to a strength suitable for the weight of glass being loaded and carried by glaziers. Over the years the average size of glass units has increased dramatically, and with double and triple glazing the average weight of each unit has also increased. Around 7-8 years ago we made some major changes to the structure of our van frails to accommodate this increasing payload weight, with the new designs "over engineered" to provide for what we predicted to be the continual increase in average load weights. We were right as the glass loads carried on vans have continued to get heavier.

Clever design of our frails means these changes in design have been easy to implement, and the new stronger componentry is an easy and cost effective upgrade to older frails.

 

Changes in the glass and window industry part 1

This weeks blog is the first in a series of changes we've experienced in the glass and window industry in the last 25 years, and changes we've made to our company and its products to suit the industry we serve.

The first is in the factory environments. 25 years ago glass factories were most often wet environments. We supplied factory handling equipment such as A-frame trolleys which were all hot dip galvanised for longevity and appearance (galvanising reduces rust when in a wet environment). The glass items placed on them was often wet, and the floors often had water on them. Nowadays most glass factories are quite clean and dry. The need for rust protection is far less and hence our factory trolleys are most often finished with a factory paint job. The paint is more for appearance than for rust protection. The paint finish is lower cost and the relative cost of trolleys has come down because of it.