Making the cut

Glass processing companies looking to improve operational efficiencies should take a close look at the new Vertmax One from Intermac, as Glass Times editor Nathan Bushell found out when he spoke to Chris Arend, UK commercial director at Intermac.

Since the Vertmax was launched by Intermac in 2014, customers have benefited from the production efficiencies vertical processing provides, along with its smaller footprint.

The more compact Vertmax One was launched in March this year, and promises to bring those same efficiencies to a wider audience.

“The Vertmax One does everything in one operation, so there is a massive reduction in handling,” Chris Arend, UK commercial director at Intermac, said. “Plus, you can process a variety of products – shower doors, balustrades, furniture glass, and even commercial IG glass – suiting companies with a mixed order book.

“It is also very keenly priced to make it accessible.

“The Vertmax One reduces the overall processing time for companies who want to CNC, drill and do edgework all in one operation, with reduced manual handling. It does this with exceptional speed and efficiency.

“This also makes it particularly useful for companies processing toughened laminates: it improves the accuracy because a single piece is processed on one machine rather than several.”

One of the key benefits of the Vertmax range, Chris said, is the ‘zero set up’ time, as the positioning of the suction cups is defined in the machine software, with only those needed activated. It will also move them if they clash with where the glass is to be worked, like a cutout or hole.

This ‘dynamic repositioning’ (patented by Intermac) reduces manual handling and keeps the glass in the vertical plane, from rack to machine. The pieces can be either multiples of the same piece, or ‘batch one’ (single items), so the benefit of zero setup means time savings over traditional flatbed CNCs, including the Master series, and can save up to 30% in time.

Another benefit is that glass can be loaded on the infeed conveyor while other products are being processed. This is known as tandem loading. This increases efficiency further as once the machine finishes processing a glass, the next piece is collected for processing, meaning the machine has been loaded in ‘hidden time’.

“So, the joint benefit of zero set up and tandem loading means a continuous process and maximum efficiency of the available time,” Chris said.

As part of the continual research and development process across Intermac, the company has launched the new ‘IC’ software for the Vertmax series, and is built on the same ‘iCam’ platform that Master and Primus users will be aware of, and was developed on the principle of ‘five clicks’.

“It must be seen to be fully appreciated,” Chris said. “As we know, software plays a huge role in efficiency and IC reduces the work required compared to iCam, but you can still use the manual functions when required.”

Intermac also offers the Aqua range of washing machines that can be integrated with vertical machining centres, enabling processed glass to be washed and dried.

Satisfied customers of the original Vertmax include Specialist Glass Products (SGP), which chose it for its new glass processing factory.

Headline positives announced by owner Andrew Taylor include: 137% increased productivity; 50% increased efficiency; and a 10% reduction in waste.

“We were limited by what we could process,” Andrew said. “So we invested in a new Intermac Genius cutting line with a Movetro automatic glass loading storage and retrieval system, and a Vertmax vertical CNC machining centre. We can now process, cut, toughen and laminate glass up to 6,000mm x 3,210mm.

“When each piece is a different size, the machine comes into its own. It’s also opened up new markets for us. In addition to jumbo sheets, we can now edge-delete soft-coated glass prior to toughening or bending, which is something we couldn’t do before.”

Chris said these factors alone should encourage smaller glass processors to consider investing in the newer Vertmax One.

“Intermac also had an influence on our factory layout,” Andrew said. “Having visited their manufacturing plant in Pesaro, which is based on the Kaizen system, our own layout reflects the same principles, which again has contributed to improving our overall efficiency.

“Our relationship with Intermac, with their consultative approach and inherent quality of machines, has been instrumental in our success.”

With the expansion of the Vertmax range to include the Vertmax One, and the Aqua series washing machines, Intermac can offer a production line solution for vertical glass processing that incorporates the ability to load a glass from the end of the cutting line and for it to be ready for the toughening process with no other machines required.