Engineering and Technology - Trends at glasstec 2014

glasstec held from October 21 - 24, 2014 in Düsseldorf is the best place worldwide for visitors to see that machinery and plant, equipment and technology used to produce, process and finish glass are as varied and as advanced as the material glass itself - all along the production chain.

Again, halls 11 to 17 of the glasstec trade show are dedicated solely to engineering technology.In a highly concentrated way, visitors can expect to see state of the art technology and high-tech solutions that help to save energy, resources and costs and at the same time improve yield and the quality of the end product. Some examples:

Glass batch preheating – less emissions, more productivity

In traditional glass production processes about 30 percent of the total melting energy is lost in form of waste heat. This energy exhausts into the atmosphere without being used. The glass batch preheating technology uses the waste gases of the melting furnace in order to bring the melting material to a high temperature level. The system can be provided and installed according to the customer's requirement and the batch composition like for example the cullet content. The problems of prior systems, especially the high maintenance efforts due to batch clumping have been  solved by now. Big heat transfer surfaces with small external dimensions allow high preheating temperatures and maximum efficiency. Plants in operation show considerable energy savings, high reliability and increased productivity. Resources are conserved and emissions are reduced considerably.

Fining-agent-free melting – for high quality glass

When producing glass with high melting temperatures, like for example TFT-glass (thin film transistor glass) manufacturers usually use a separated refining technology after melting where platinum/noble materials is required. The advanced refining system uses so-called platinum-tube-refiner in order to reduce costs and the amount of noble material. With this process fining-agent-free melting is possible, avoiding As2O3, Sb2O3 and allowing the use of low-cost raw materials. The melting concept with two separated zones is now consequently applied to other high quality glasses.

New conditioning system – energy savings of up to 30 percent

Glass production requires the cooling of the glass melt from the melting temperature to the forming temperature. This is done in conditioning systems. Usual conditioning systems are optimized for a small operation range in order to reach a high thermal homogeneity of the glass. However, such systems lack flexibility and are highly energy-intensive. Now, a newly developed conditioning system overcomes these disadvantages. It uses a tailor-made forehearth with continuously operating disc burners working in cooling- and heating mode. Thus, a higher flexibility can be reached as well as a high thermal efficiency. Energy savings of at least 30 percent for systems with high output can be achieved. Also, a high thermal homogeneity of the glass is guaranteed which is needed to achieve a high yield and perfect quality of the glass.

Continuous chemical tempering of glass – more productivity, less costs

Today, chemical tempering of glass can only be done in the batch process. Production costs are high, capacity is low and the process can be used for the production of flat glass only. German engineers have now developed a new solution, the process of continuous chemical tempering of glass. It can be applied to all glasses with Na-content. Also hollow glass can be tempered and what is more, the tempered glass has a higher strength than thermal tempered glass. Since the system operates continuously, productivity will be increased and costs reduced. The process is done in two steps: First, there is a special salt coating process which contains a high amount of potassium. It will stay on the glass surface even during tempering at high temperatures. This is followed by an ion exchange in a conventional heating tunnel.

High-end glass handling in the ultra-high vaccum range

Recent developments in high-end glass handling focused on systems for handling large substrates up to G8.5 in the ultra-high vacuum range. The handling covers up to 7 axes and includes horizontal-to-vertical-reorientation. Substrate reference point alignment and subsequent fixation inside the handling system cut costs and reduce space requirements. Scalability and adaptability to other substrate sizes makes the system a tool for combining most diverse processes. The system is ideal to connect different UHV process tools by needing less space without exposing the substrate to the atmosphere.

Flexible glass handling devices – for more safety at work

The tendency towards increasingly larger glass constructions in architecture and the growing usage of 2 gap insulating glasses pose new challenges for glass processors and assemblers. Elements which could previously be moved by two people have now become so heavy that they can hardly be transported manually on site or within company premises any longer. Now, an innovative handling and mounting aid was developed which can easily and safely move elements of up to 320 kg and a maximum width of 3.80 m like glass panes, window elements and metal or stone sheets.

Handling of glass residues – saves raw materials

Even today, remaining glass residues are often still taken off the conveyor by hand and then sorted. Any items that are of the right size need to be re-integrated into the production process. Dynamic glass storage systems help to be more efficient. After the cutting and breaking process the remaining residual scrap sheets are fed back into the system, where they are automatically lifted up and placed into intermediate storage. The computer knows exactly where which sheet is located and can then put it back into production any time should it be suitable for the manufacturing process. When using this system, the recovery rate for glass residuals is about 25 to 30 per cent higher compared to sorting by hand.

Insulating glass production – reduce cycle time; produce more units

Energy consumption in the field of insulating glass production usually amounts to less than one percent of the unit costs. Due to the fact that an investment is usually linked to other rationalisation effects, the machine supplier is able to accurately calculate which cost block will change and how. The greatest savings in the field of insulating glass production are achieved via a significant reduction in cycle times. This allows more units to be produced with an equal or lower energy requirement per insulating glass unit. Consequently, the objective of each insulating glass manufacturer must be to produce as many premium insulating glass units as quickly and as inexpensively as possible. Machine manufacturers consider the insulating glass line itself to be one of the most important cogs when it comes to increasing productivity. Together with the customers, they are able to determine which production line is suitable for the individual insulating glass operation with its unique Total Costs of Ownership-Software, thus configuring the individually ideal insulating glass line for each company. New insulating glass lines for example produce triple units in the same time it takes other lines to produce double units. However, opportunities also exist to optimise existing insulating glass lines. Each production line generally consists of individual process steps that are linked to each other. Even small changes can have a great impact. It can be worthwhile to significantly improve the cycle time of the entire line by replacing just one single component such as the sealing robot, thus reducing the energy costs per insulating glass unit.

New architectural glass coating concept – minimizes space requirements

The concept of new complete solutions for coating of architectural glass consists of the loading and unloading systems, the PVD coating equipment as well as the quality inspection systems. Here, data and signals are smoothly exchanged between the sub-systems; the control of the complete line is done from a homogeneous user interface. The use of innovative coating tools in combination with the latest equipment components ensures highest product yield and equipment availability for minimized space requirements. A clearly reduced spare part inventory is achieved by the usage of identical components for the complete production line.  An extension by an intelligent ware-house solution is already foreseen in order to minimize warehouse cost and reduce costly ware-house inventory.

Next generation of float glass inspection systems – increases productivity

Perfect glass requires perfect inspection. This is why German technology suppliers have developed new and innovative standards. The next generation of float glass inspection systems combines five optical channels in one sensor. Thus there is only one system to solve all existing float glass inspection needs. By employing the inspection systems’ tools for process monitoring and yield optimization the highest productivity and cost-efficiency is assured. In this way, not only are the defects detected, but also it is pinpointed where and why the defects occurred. The systems are placed in operation at every step of the production chain, not only to inspect visual defects and for quality control purposes, but also as a means to optimize the processes themselves.

Inspection of multi-dimensional bended glass – overall flexibility

On offer are also fully automated systems for form measurement on curved sheets in every dimension. By using reflection the system measures the facing surfaces of clear and coloured glass including shadeband and blackprint. The system is designed to work effectively and contact free and it offers overall flexibility. Data-processing determines deviations of the overall form, the distance between unlaminated pairs and of course the reflected optical distortion. It is designed for 100 percent in-line measurement. The superior technology is capable of measuring glass of any size. In addition, it enables automated inspection and increased throughput with less personnel.

VDMA technology symposium at glasstec

New technologies and trends is also the topic of a technology symposium which is organised by VDMA on October 22 during glasstec and in connection with the glass technology live exhibition. This year’s title is “production technology for the processing and refining of glass”. A focus will be on quality control, monitoring and process control.

400 companies have joined VDMA’s BlueCompetence campaign

The German Engineering Federation (VDMA) represents 3,100 member companies and is the largest European industry association. The entire German mechanical engineering industry produces a sales volume of 200 billion Euros. About 80% of the German glass technology producers are members of the association. The companies are leaders in the area of production technology for new glass application like for example thin glass or three- or four-fold insulation glass. By them major focus is put on the issue of sustainable development - from batch handling and the mixing process to the glass melt and shaping process through to further processing and finishing.

With the launch of its Blue Competence campaign in 2011, the VDMA makes it possible for its member firms to publically underline the sustainability of their products, production processes, logistics, in short their entire operations. Up to now, 400 companies have joined. The campaign aims at pooling together the interests, know-how and strengths of machinery manufacturers and thereby contribute to developing pioneering technology and market leadership worldwide. Under the Blue Competence label criteria were defined that every company joining the initiative must meet. Glass machinery technology under the Blue Competence banner stands for stable and energy- and resource-efficient production processes and highest quality end products. This benefits glass manufacturers, end consumers and ultimately society as a whole

The German glass machinery industry is internationally oriented and has representatives and production locations in many countries of the world. Export is its main economic pillar. The major export markets include Europe, in particular Russia, but also China, India and the Arabian Peninsula. The VDMA has been the professional and conceptual sponsor of glasstec and partner of Messe Düsseldorf for decades.

600450 Engineering and Technology - Trends at glasstec 2014
Date: 15 April 2014

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