The glass industry in Europe has fully embraced the idea that factories should be heavily automated instead of being labor intensive. In North America, the traditional approach has been just the opposite. By foregoing investments in cutting-edge machines, companies have decided that economic downturns and business slowdowns could be better addressed with layoffs.
America’s recent recession turned the status quo upside down. “Since 2012 when the recession ended, nearly every company I talk to devotes tremendous energy to staffing their factories. As a result of this labor shortage, North American customers are more interested in automating than ever before,” said Carey Brayer, Vice-President of Sales/Glass for Intermac America.
Automation works so well because of all the steps it takes to get each piece of glass to downstream processes such as edging, washing and tempering. Each of these steps (glass storage, transfer to the cutting line, cutting and break-out, and racking) processes glass at different rates.
To add to the complexity, most glass wholesalers fabricate a wide variety of glass. Different glass shapes, different applications and different glass processes foster reliance on batch processing. All of the processes involved in segregating and scoring different thicknesses and types of glass have traditionally been done manually.
With so many challenges, how is a company supposed to move toward modernization? Brayer sees a growing desire to automate the initial steps of the process. Intermac – Movetro supports that objective with complete turnkey packages for three-piece lines with glass storage, glass loading and glass-breakout.