The latest Hegla system to be installed at K2 Conservatories is no exception, raising the benchmark in relation to production standards. The investment in the Optimax system, which is worth in excess of £200,000 now enables K2 to deliver a broader product range in a considerably shorter timescale. Staff are now deployed into other departments where their technical skills can be put to better use, while flow-through and output on the production floor have increased considerably Formed in 1999, K2 Conservatories has since grown to become one of the UK’s largest suppliers of advanced, fully sculptured conservatory systems with over 300,000 UK homeowners having installed a K2 product. Andy Vint, Production Manager in K2’s glass department, needed to simplify the production methods to increase output at the company, and felt the extensive industry understanding demonstrated by the Hegla team, ensured that the right products would be installed to easily meet the growing demands of the glass production line. Some of Hegla’s recognized qualities include the ability to completely grasp individual customer’s production needs then to develop a fully tailored design specification and consequently forge strong business relations.
The highly experienced Hegla team, tailors every order and for K2 this personalization of the business relationship was a huge part of the deal. It was imperative to be able to discuss product developments and future corporate progression with a team who completely understood the market as it changes. As K2 has progressed, re-structured and further built the brand over the last 10 years, the company inherited Hegla equipment, so were fully aware of its capabilities along with the technical back up and after sales support. Technically, the Optimax cutting table now enables the company to automatically load and cut a more varied range of glass types for a larger market. Andy Vint believes that in order to produce units of real quality it is imperative to invest in machinery with a proven track record. His philosophy is simple: to supply customers with only the best quality products, it is essential to invest in machines that can substantiate the guarantees offered. He comments, “The products are only as good as the machines upon which they are made. If quality consistency falters then this will leave us vulnerable, damaging our reputation and losing us customers, quickly. With high performance roof glass being so popular it is vital that we can substantiate our product guarantees.” Prior to installation, bottlenecks had developed in K2’s cutting department which was starving the furnace. The Hegla cutting table is fed with cutting instructions by Clear Thinking Software’s glass optimizer.
This program nests the shaped roof glass which makes up 40% of the workload, in the most efficient way, whilst still making sure that the glass can be broken out quickly and efficiently without any unnecessary breakages. With the broad range of high value products that are provided by K2 (including market leading performance glass Celsius) it is essential that material waste is minimized while ensuring products are made efficiently. With this in mind via the Clear Thinking Software program, the work is deliberately sequenced so that there are minimum changes to the furnace settings per shift. This inevitably results in a vast improvement of throughput of glass through the furnace. The toughened glass is then automatically paired at the rear of the furnace and re-sequenced into job order for ease of manufacture and delivery. The popularity of the complete K2 range is attributed to the company’s quality focused approach. K2 products meet BSI standards (BS EN ISO 14001:2004, ISO 9001:2008) and are BBA (British Board of Agrément) accredited (01/3795). In order to achieve this BBA status both products and the entire business had to undergo rigorous independent assessments by a government backed body.
The company’s BBA certification provides the roof systems with a life expectancy of at least 25 years with the Celsius Range carrying the BS EN 1279-2 and BS EN 12150-1 standards. Another bonus provided by the Optimax cutting and loading system includes greater health and safety with the loader and cutting table being fully fenced to current standards and electro mechanically interlocked. Additionally the loader is sequenced fully automatically with the cutting table instructions via the cutting code. The quality of glass is improved also as there are fewer scratches during the production process. Since installation in July 2011, K2 has seen vast improvements with production streamlined through the ability to reduce staff in the cutting department and utilise their expertise in other areas. This flexibility has resulted in a volume increase and more efficient cutting of a large range of performance glass sheets. As part of the first phase of an investment programme at K2, Senior Management have been delighted with the seamless installation of the Hegla equipment. The initial CAD drawings enabled the production department to see how the company could physically accommodate the Optimax. This resulted in a carefully planned adjustment to the floor design which was the footprint for the new installation. When the machines were delivered and installed, manufacturing was not disrupted with downtime being only in one area of the production department over one weekend. Andy Vint comments, “Since installation of the Optimax it has proved its worth and more.
The after sales care from Hegla is second to none, so any issues we had with the system were sorted immediately, but we knew this would be the case based on previous experience. Historically other company’s service charges are known to be extortionate in respect of this so we are impressed with Hegla’s approach. He concludes “We have increased capacity and have the potential to further enhance manufacturing methods in the future, with further investment in Hegla equipment.” Steve Goble, Managing Director at Hegla UK Ltd comments, “This Hegla installation has strengthened other areas of the production process for K2. There is huge potential within the glass industry and we have put in place technical advantages that will help the company to develop the business substantially.”