When the going gets tough

Energy Saving Glass has continued its investment in its in-house manufacturing facility with seven-figure spend on a new toughening facility. The company’s Alex Walker explains why.

Bringing more of your supply chain in-house to increase controls on quality and cost isn’t new but it’s happening with increasing frequency across the window, door and, particularly, glass processing sectors.

We manufacture IGUs, and we have committed almost £2 million to a programme of sustained investment in machinery in the last two years.

Investments have included a Forel vertical laminate cutting table, supplied through machinery specialist Promac Group, in 2016. This was followed in 2018 with purchases of a new Mappi furnace, MTL Panther cutting table, and Forel vertical arrising machine and washer – to provide a dedicated toughening line.

Our decision to invest in our own toughening line was driven by a number of different factors. First, we were encountering problems in our pre-existing supply chain and we weren’t getting the reliability in the supply of stock glass that we wanted. Ultimately, that was something that had started to impact on the service that we were able to offer to our customers.

We also wanted more flexibility to supply shaped toughened glass. Capacity to toughen glass in-house means we can offer faster turnaround times, guarantee quality and offer a better service to our customers.

The third reason was that it would allow us to keep a control on cost. We’d seen successive price increases in the last year, totalling more than 10% on the previous year, which we had simply absorbed. Doing that long-term wasn’t sustainable.

The MTL Panther shape cutting table is a high speed XY glass cutting table specially developed for the IGU sector. Capable of cutting at up to 120m/min, the computer-controlled platform features inbuilt optimisation software, while the Windows user interface means that the machine can also be programmed manually.

It’s constructed on a welded steel chassis incorporating integral air flotation allowing freefall loading of the machine. It also features edge deletion for soft coated glasses and a high speed shape cutting option.

The Forel EG2201 offers high degree of flexibility. This includes installation as part of IGU manufacturing lines or in pre-processing of glass before tempering.

Automatically acquiring glass dimensional data, the series can process glass sizes from as small as 410mm x 230mm to 6,000mm x 310mm, dependent on specification. The EG2201 is also suited to processing of shaped glass, with two independent grinding heads guaranteeing a symmetrical arrissed edge, even where glass is cut with a flare.

This same focus on versatility is inherent in our new VW1600 vertical washing machine. It’s suitable for use with all glass panes, easily handling coatings, and a wide variety of different grindings and glass thicknesses from 3mm to 40mm.

With hot wash and cold rinse cycles and an onboard filtration system, features include the automatic adjustment of brushes and blowers at the point of glass feed-in according to thickness. Scrub brushes operate independently and are also automatically managed according to glass type and coating, including a low emissivity glass detector.

Your edge quality has to be spot on in toughening. Forel is a leader in glass processing technology and we already run a vertical laminate cutting table, washers and IGU lines, so we know first-hand just how good they are. If we’re going to invest, we’re going to invest properly.

We’ve worked with Promac on lots of different occasions and we met MD Joe Hague to nail down a specification. That’s one of the reasons why we work with them.

They’ll help you get the most for your money. They don’t just sell you what they want to sell you. We could have bought the washer and arriser new but there was an option on a reconditioned which allowed us to get what we wanted but at lower cost.

But it’s the largest of our purchases, the new Mappi ATS Eco 4.0 Furnace, which is key in delivering Energy Saving Glass’s new tempering and toughening capability. This has been developed by Mappi to offer reduced cycle times and increased productivity and efficiency, through a series of exclusive innovations.

Hitting tempering temperatures within an hour, this includes Mappi’s Multizone Heating System, which exploits a network of electronically controlled sensors to apply constant and highly focussed heat only where glass is detected. Energy consumption is reduced through its Energy Saving System, which uses a computerised ventilation system to optimise fuel consumption.

This is further enhanced using a technically advanced 350mm insulation. The ATS Eco 4.0 also uses a patented roller mechanism, which synchronises the movement of ceramic rollers providing perfect glass flow without the requirement for use of sulphur dioxide in the heating process. A smart cooling system also introduces more precision to the cooling process, reducing iridescence.

Each production cycle is automatically recorded and stored providing an automatic report simplifying the CE Marking compliance process.

The demand for toughened glass has just grown and grown and it’s such a staple of what we do. The investment in the furnace, arriser and washer give us control of supply in terms of both quality and cost. We don’t have to worry about whether the deliveries are going to come, if or a price increase is around the corner, because we have control. That’s a major benefit for our customers.