However, the rapid evolution of glass as a building material requires enterprises to keep developing and adjusting.
The growing diversity of glass products and applications provides glass-processing and finishing businesses with plenty of potential for a positive development. Whether it is the redesign of an interior or a facade or whether the energy efficiency of a building needs to be improved – glass is frequently the first choice. Suitable glass solutions are now available for all areas of application, all building designs and virtually all imaginable requirement profiles. Never before has there been such a variety of options in using glass as an alternative to other materials. There is a vast amount of potential for knowledgeable, well-trained glaziers.
This amazing evolution of a millennia-old material into a state-of-the-art, trendy and extremely versatile high-tech material is the result of intensive research and development conducted by the glass industry, glass machine manufacturers and suppliers of accessories. Working together, they have developed many new and highly dynamic manufacturing processes and finishing techniques. Over the last 15 years, in particular, this industry has produced and is now selling a wide range of innovative products. Many of these are totally new in their range of applications. Powerful performance and customisable designs are further important factors to create this boom in glass applications. In 2011, according to the German Federal Statistical Office and the German Association of the Glass Industry, this industry recorded revenues of nearly EUR 4 billion through the finishing of flat glass, i.e. four per cent higher than in 2010.
A competitive edge through knowledge
Floor, walls, ceilings – virtually anything can now have a special finish added to it with the use of glass products. This development does of course benefit the glazing trade, provided that it keeps up with developments and continually adjusts its products and services to the demands of the market. Many glass finishing jobs would simply be too expensive for today’s customers if they were still performed in a traditional manual process. This is an area where industrial finishing methods provide new scope. “Mechanical manufacturing makes products affordable again for end customers,” says Clemens Kastenholz, Managing Director of Kunst und Bauglaserei Clemens Kastenholz GmbH. He sees digital printing as a good example of an alternative to the traditional craftsman’s methods of glass painting and etching. Based in Frechen near Cologne, Kastenholz now manages this company in its third generation. He, too, has been continually expanding the product and service spectrum of his business and has been adapting it to market requirements. He believes that it is particularly important to keep an eye on current developments. “This is the only way,” he says, “if we want to understand the prevailing trends and use them in our business. Unless you know what can be done with today’s state-of-the-art machinery, it’s impossible to put such products on the market.”
Exclusivity as an asset
High-volume products such as furniture and showers can make life difficult for glaziers. It is important to make targeted use of one’s professional know-how and to offer exclusive products and services that are specially geared towards each customer’s needs. The general environment is currently ideal. Suppliers to the industry are offering a vast range, with plenty of products for the customised finishing of glass. According to Stefan Kieckhöfel, graduate engineer and General Manager of the Federal Association of the German Glazier Trade (BIV), glass finishing is already part of everyday life for about 30 per cent of all glaziers in Germany. “Even small glaziers’ businesses can now offer a broad spectrum of products and services and can gain a competitive and independent edge in the hotly contested market of standard products,” says Kieckhöfel when asked about the complex product range offered by suppliers. Any glasses that cannot be made with one’s own resources can be obtained either from the glass industry or from glass-finishing SMEs with their broad technical spectrum. This partnership has been a well established feature for many years now. It is vital to be aware of what this sector can offer and where the required products are available.
New developments at glasstec 2012
International trade fairs such as glasstec in Düsseldorf provide an ideal setting in which to gain a comprehensive overview of the latest glass products and trends and of state-of-the-art technical developments in the market. The world’s leading trade fair for the glass industry will be held from 23 to 26 October this year, showcasing the latest product range of the glass industry, the latest developments in manufacturing technology and the entire bandwidth of glass applications for both interior and exterior design. Wide-ranging innovations and information for glaziers will also be provided by a special integrated show entitled glass technology live and an accompanying international symposium. Running under the motto “Innovative Glass Functions”, the show will focus on tomorrow’s trends, on developments for new material requirements, on applications and on design solutions involving the use of glass. These will be accompanied by in-depth talks given by well-known experts.
Clemens Kastenholz believes that a visit to this most important trade fair is mandatory: “glasstec is bound to showcase innovations that are relevant to glaziers. Once you’ve got an idea of the overall spectrum of innovations, you can decide whether to go down a particular route or whether to ignore certain innovations,” he explains. Being a professional glazier himself, he is particularly interested in glass design for construction purposes and in filigree glass designs where structural load-bearing elements are minimised. He is well aware from his everyday professional experience that today’s customers want to see maximum transparency with as much glass as possible and with a minimum of framing material.
News and trends at the BIV Glass House
Traditionally, Messe Düsseldorf has always involved the glaziers’ trade in the general idea of glasstec and has provided a range of special facilities for this group of visitors. The “crafts center” in Hall 9 will showcase all the latest trends and open up new perspectives. The wide range of applications include interior design, interior decorating and even energy savings through glass, e.g. in the construction of facades and windows. Covering over 1,200 square metres, the Federal Association of the German Glazier Trade will be giving powerful demonstrations of the glazing trade and its capabilities.
This year’s focus will be on glass applications in buildings. The full diversity of glass applications can be directly experienced at the Glass House, realised together with companies from the glass and supplier industries. Commenting on the bandwidth of products and applications, Stefan Kieckhöfel says: “As well as realising our aims, we’ll be showing new trends in interior glass applications.” Moreover, the large amount of space at glasstec will used for an illustration of the central role of the glazier’s trade in the envisaged energy turnaround.
Working with Messe Düsseldorf, this will be the first year that BIV is setting up a special section for innovative achievements in the glazing trade. Glazing businesses will be given a highly attractive platform at this internationally significant trade fair – a platform where they can showcase their work, enter into joint ventures with other craft businesses and target both architects and planners. Ursula Beller agrees that such an opportunity must not be missed. Ms. Beller has a degree in engineering and is project manager at the North-Rhine Westphalian Technology Transfer Group for Craft Businesses in Düsseldorf. “For a craft business wanting to present a new development it is best to operate under a joint stand, together with others, as their business is more likely to draw attention, which minimises the risk that the exhibitor might remain unnoticed among all the others.” The specialist for the promotion of technical innovations and for the formation of networks recommends that if craft businesses are interested, they should make enquiries with their local Chamber of Crafts and with their own professional organisation to see whether the envisaged trade fair allows the option of joint stands.
Glaziers’ Award 2012
As in previous years, one of the highlights at the “crafts center” will be the Glaziers’ Award. The Association uses this much-coveted prize to award the most successful business in the glazing trade. The award will be presented on 25 October as a recognition of good leadership, dynamism, innovation, success, motivation and appeal. Moreover, the “crafts center” also provides a presentation platform for glazing businesses with an artistic focus. Like in 2010, glasstec 2012 will exhibit the works of glass artists in the glazing trade and will allow the sale of such items. The exhibition will be supplemented by a special show entitled Glass Art, featuring the works of international artists. Another much acclaimed showcase is the Glass Finishing Award. Many well-known artists have already given impressive proof of their skills through this competition.
Focus on automotive glazing
A further glazing sector that will be presented on a large scale can be viewed in the “autoglass arena” in Hall 10, set up together with the BIV Automotive Glazing Group. This discipline will also feature at the autoglass plenum with the professional presentation of a wide-ranging programme for automotive glazing experts. One highlight of this thematic complex will be the German Automotive Glazing Competition on 24 October, when a jury will identify the glasstec 2012 Autoglass Champion.
As before, on Craftsman’s Friday (26 October), Association members will have a chance to make their trade fair visit even more perfect by winning a lucrative prize. Working with its affiliates, the Federal Association of the German Glazier Trade (BIV) will be running a prize draw for a brand-new, fully equipped glazier’s van at its stand. The winner will be able to use the vehicle free of charge for a period of three years.
As the most important international trade fair in the glass industry, glasstec is unparalleled in its comprehensiveness, offering a broad range of different applications. The halls of the Düsseldorf Exhibition Center will feature the entire value chain of glass as a material. This leading world trade fair for the glazing trade is an outstanding event for two reasons: it highlights the very latest developments, and it offers an excellent platform for the presentation of this trade. Photo: Messe Düsseldorf
As on previous occasions, the special exhibition “glass technology live” will again provide a comprehensive overview of new glass products and applications. International experts have long come to regard “gtl” as truly state-of-the-art. Photo: Messe Düsseldorf
glasstec 2012 provides an opportunity for a close look at new products and technologies. Face-to-face meetings are a good way to resolve technical issues and to discuss the various options of using an application in one’s own business. Photo: Messe Düsseldorf
The Glass House on the stand of the Federal Association of the German Glazier Trade (BIV) will showcase the latest glass products and applications for interior design and for an improvement of energy efficiency in buildings. Illustration: The Federal Association of the German Glazier Trade (BIV)
Glazing businesses have new opportunities in automotive glazing, including the lucrative segment of smart repairs. The Autoglass Arena at glasstec 2012 and the accompanying plenary will focus on automotive glass and will identify the Autoglass Champion of the Year. Photo: Messe Düsseldorf