Staged by a collection of leading suppliers to the international glass industry including DSF Refractories & Minerals, Fives, Glassworks Hounsell, Graphoidal Developments, Heat-Up, Pennine Industrial Equipment, Pro-Sight Vision, Rondot GB and Sheppee International, 18 presentations provided glassmakers in attendance from various sectors with the opportunity to learn more about the host companies and improve their manufacturing processes via well-established technologies that were detailed alongside recent product launches.
Company and technical presentations
Representing DSF, a major supplier of bonded refractories to the glass industry with customers in over 60 countries in the different sectors, Paul Hutchinson briefed attendees on an extensive product range that includes DSF Frimul FX, a fused mullite product; Chemcast CAZ20, an ethyl silicate bonded cast AZS product; and DSF Calex TBR, using calcium aluminate. Having partnered with Fosbel to develop a different way of building regenerators from large interlocking blocks, the Reblock innovation was also introduced.
A leading manufacturer of silent inverted tooth conveyor chain and sprockets that are used in the transportation and handing of container glass, tableware and stemware, Pennine’s Graham Womersley detailed the Calibre two pin chain designed for high speed, as well as recent developments including Pennlock, a rapid connecting system, the Steel Head Protector and the Swift Link head protector for single pin operation. The company has released a number of special designs to meet the ever-changing demands of the glass industry.
Stephen Sherlock and Sergio Silva of Fives Stein, part of the Fives Glass Division and a leading equipment supplier for high quality melting and conditioning for all types of glass, emphasised the company’s commitment to innovation, research and development and its strategy for sustainability (lowering CO2 emissions for larger scale glass melting furnaces). Looking to the future with a roadmap towards industrial implementation, opportunities for the Eco-Flex hybrid furnace were described.
As a market leader in the development and supply of innovative hot ware handling solutions, Sheppee International’s Andy Ross and Roy Clarkson explained to attendees that the critical role of ware handling has never been more prevalent and that integrated systems can enhance and increase production, as well as eliminate human error during set-up. Recent innovations were presented such as the CCA-1250 cross conveyor with open belt return and the TRI-FLEX 7 axis ware handling system with lehr belt tracking to eliminate associated base defects.
Lincoln Brown of Pro-Sight, designer and manufacturer of an innovative range of small, flexible and mobile glass container inspection machines with a complementary series of cold end ware handling systems, detailed the success of the company’s Tuck Under Measurement System and introduced the Full Finish Inspection Machine for highly accurate dimensional measurements. Other innovations covered included the Production Efficiency Monitoring System with its mobile app for real-time production line monitoring and the recently introduced ‘Slo-Mo’ industrial CCTV video capturing system with slow motion playback, along with examples of custom-designed machines such as a pneumatic stacker for decorating lehrs, a lehr unloader and refurbishments of old North American ramp pressure testers.
Clive Ward from Heat Up looked at future developments for furnace cameras and image analysis to deliver refractory movements. Opportunities for a blow head camera and blow mould monitoring were also explored. Having built many combustions systems for forehearths and regularly made special adaptations to systems, Heat Up specialises in combustion engineering and camera systems.
Rondot GB was founded in 2010 to serve the UK market. Jordan Chappelow covered the company’s latest range of IS inspection equipment with added functionality and benefits, including the Speedgob 3, Handy 6 pyrometer and TOMCAT hot end coating thickness tester. Delivery equipment and hot end consumables made for increased performance were also described. For Sonicam, the latest generation of machines in areas such as vibration gauging, container volume inspection and automatic scanning were introduced, as well as RGB’s extensive range of IS variable equipment and state-of-the-art digital printing technology from Fermac.
On behalf of Graphoidal Developments, specialising in lubrication and coating products for the container and tableware sectors, Mark Johnston and Richard Pike detailed innovations including the Smart Gob 3D camera, the latest addition to its range of products. Benefits described include weight reduction, job change time reduction and stabilisation of the gob cutting process. Successful installations in France were referenced.
William Brinkman of Glassworks Hounsell explained how charger and charging improvements lead to a more scientific understanding of material behaviour and distribution within the furnace, as well as the overall effects and impacts that charging has on melting, glass quality equipment performance, furnace life and capital investment. Glassworks Hounsell is a global supplier of all types of batch charging and feeding equipment for furnaces of all shapes, sizes and glasses. The company is also renowned for tin oxide (SnO2) electrode and connector systems for use in the electric melting of special glasses.
Many fruitful discussions were also conducted at an associated tabletop exhibition area and during accompanying lunch and dinner events. The next seminar is provisionally scheduled for 2021.
Lincoln Brown (LB) and Graham Womersley (GW) outline the history, activities and future goals of the UK Suppliers Alliance
What are the origins of the UK Suppliers Alliance?
GW: The concept started about eight years ago when a select group of UK suppliers considered the options of working together to leverage influence with exhibition organisers. The initial idea was to consider sharing stands and costs by having increased buying power as a group. Strangely enough, there has not yet been an example of us all exhibiting together as such a group but we continue to evaluate all options.
LB: Where an individual member can’t justify the expenditure for a certain show, it could be that presence on a group stand would be beneficial… we certainly remain open to all future opportunities.
What initiatives has the alliance undertaken in that time?
LB: The original idea morphed into working out latterly that we could co-operate together as a group when beneficial to all concerned. For example, the alliance offers to co-ordinate visits to the UK of existing and potential overseas clients from the container, flat and fibre sectors, providing transportation and logistical assistance for visits to some or all members. When a customer is already visiting one member, we can help them maximise their trip.
GW: There have been many successful examples of this and when international customers have visited, we have been able to present them with other opportunities from throughout our group.
How pleased are you with the progress from the inaugural seminar to the second event last November in Barnsley?
LB: Very pleased. The first seminar went well but the second event grew significantly and attracted approximately double the number of customers. There is a technical emphasis on content for the seminar and we hope that everyone who attended learnt things they didn’t know previously. New technology and new innovation is what it’s all about.
GW: Many of the visitors and hosts really enjoyed the carefully planned format of combining presentations with coffee and lunch breaks that provided the chance to network in the tabletop exhibition area and to touch and feel what was seen during the presentations. It worked really well.
What is the target audience for the seminars?
LB: We were really pleased to see quite a few graduate engineers in the audience, because that was a key goal for our original concept. Although senior personnel would benefit from attending too, the vast majority of information presented at the seminar would have been new to graduate engineers. In the future, the technology from alliance members will be at the forefront of their minds when they are shaping the future of glass production… Pro-Sight received at least three interesting enquiries initiated by the seminar.
GW: There were hot and cold end personnel at the seminar, with eight factories represented, not just from the hollow sector but from other areas like glass fibre manufacturing too. As well as our core customers, the seminar provided Pennine with an opportunity to have potentially very interesting discussions with attendees that wouldn’t necessarily normally be considered our main target customers. Members of the alliance involved in melting technology are also interested in flat glass attendees of course and in terms of sectors attracted by our initiatives, we want to cross boundaries even further.