August 29, 2017

What Comes After Automation?

by Joe Erb

In many ways, automated equipment has changed the way we think about manufacturing insulating glass (IG). In the best cases, it can help streamline production flows, eliminate the need for riskier physical labor, help create more quality consistency, and more.

But installing an automated line, or any form of automated equipment, isn’t the solution in and of itself. It takes a holistic view, new production strategies, and different thinking to get the most out of your investment.

Maybe you’re considering automating parts or all of your IG line. Or maybe you’ve already made the investment, but the transition has been more of a challenge than you anticipated. In an issue of Glass Magazine earlier this year, I wrote about some of the biggest challenges that IG manufacturers face after implementing automated technologies. Specifically, I noted:

While an IG fabricator realizes productivity gains with the incorporation of automation, they also face additional questions. For instance:

Is a fabricator able to get necessary raw materials efficiently and on time to handle more orders and allow for higher capacity?

Does the fabricator have the furnace capacity for the increased volume of glass that needs to be tempered?
Because many customer jobsites can only handle a certain amount of glass at once, is the fabricator’s production rate optimized for how much the company can store and ship at a given time?

These are critical questions for any IG fabricator to answer when looking to drive their operations forward. And at this year’s GlassBuild America, September 12-14 in Atlanta, I’ll have the opportunity to present my thoughts on some possible answers.  

I’ll be presenting After Automation: Next Steps for Fabricators in two Express Learning sessions at this year’s show. Mark your calendars for 11 a.m. on September 12, or 11:30 a.m. on September 14 if you’d like to attend! And don’t forget to stop by the Quanex booth, #1919, while you’re on the show floor.

You can find more information about all of the Express Learning sessions at this year’s show here. There will be plenty of valuable information to soak in, and I’m excited to be a part of it.

Questions or comments? Contact me directly at

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Posted: August 29, 2017 by Joe Erb Filed under: automation, industry, strategies