The labor shortage is impacting all facets of the doors, windows, and glass and glazing industry. This reality, paired with the desire for increased efficiencies and safety, is driving the rise of automation. At the 2019 Glass Processing Automation Days (GPAD) Conference, held last week in San Antonio, companies highlighted ways automation can save time and costs.

Doug Mangus with Salem Flat Glass & Mirror highlights the benefits of robotics.

Doug Mangus, machine sales director and owner of Salem Flat Glass & Mirror, highlighted the benefits of robotics using the Bovone Robotic System (BRS) as an example. He explained that robots move exactly the same every time based on the information input into the machine.

Everything is handled precisely which reduces risk,” said Mangun. “All of the work cell is contained by safety barriers. Operators are not allowed in there when producing glass. The risk of handling, dropping pieces, loading and unloading risks are gone which is a huge benefit.”

The reduction in safety risks also reduces insurance claims from repetitive motion or accidents.

Nicola Lattuada with Adelio Attuada speaks about automation.

Adelio Lattuada partner Nicola Lattuada’s presentation, “Automation, Robotics and Industry 4.0: Solutions, Not Just Products,” emphasized the importance of robotics software rather than the physical aspects of the machine. He also recommended that companies ask about the size of a robot when considering purchasing one because size impacts the speed of the robot. Bigger robots work slower.

Nate Huffman, president of Softsolution North America, highlighted its scanning technology, which combines several different types of scanning into one scanner, including thermal imaging, tempering quality and anisotropy. He said that adding the ability to scan for roller distortion is the company’s next goal.

During Forel’s presentation about high-speed insulating lines combined with sorting systems, sales director Marco Schiavon and U.S. service and parts manager Troy Lentner discussed the benefits of high-speed production.

Marco Schiavon and Troy Lentner with Forel discuss high-speed processing.

Every facility I talk to says they’re 25 short,” said Lentner. “With high-speed lines we now have three people working the line.”

He said that using these automated lines reduces the direct costs of labor including payroll, taxes and benefits.

Having less people also means a safer work environment,” he said.

Schiavon and Lentner also said that combined a high-speed automated system with a sorting system results in a reduction of waste and saved time because people don’t have to go looking for specific glass remnants.

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