With our visit to Glasstec in Düsseldorf this year, I was once again reminded what an innovative and thriving industry we have the pleasure to work in. Sure, we are all facing some pretty big challenges, but when you see the systems and solutions which are being created and invested in by our sector, there is certainly reason to be optimistic.
We spoke to a lot of business leaders while we were at Glasstec and there are some pretty clear themes dominating boardroom discussions:
- The cost of glass, as a raw material, is still increasing. Waste and breakages are a fact of life in this business, but right now it seems that the smart money is focused on optimising glass cutting, and monitoring processes and workstations to identify breakage hotspots.
- Energy price rises show no sign of slowing down, particularly in Europe. Managers have few options, but we are told that attention is focusing on the most energy-hungry parts of the business, particularly furnaces, and how clever planning and more optimal usage can reduce their running time. Furnace optimisation was a hot topic of conversation on the Jotika stand.
- Skilled staff who left glass businesses as a result of Covid are proving hard to replace. There is no question that work in the glass industry can be hard and Amazon jobs can look more appealing. We are hearing how business owners are investing in more automation projects and also integrating machines and systems to free-up time for their people and save them doing repetitive, data-keying tasks.
Members of our tech team had in-depth conversations with equipment manufacturers, to understand where the latest developments are leading. Without getting too excited about Industry 4.0, we can see the automation trend moving into analytics with live process monitoring and job tracking.
On the Jotika stand we had a huge amount of interest in barcoding. For most glass companies this is the key to understanding and improving processes, to improve throughput and drive down reject rates. By gathering real-time information at a piece-by-piece level, barcode tracking not only provides analytics, but also live updates for the most competitive customer service.
Beyond Glasstec, we have been working with leaders of glass companies to review efficiencies and trial improvements in key areas. If this is something that you are focusing on now, please get in touch and we’ll be happy to discuss the options.