What does one million loads mean in the digitalisation movement?

Putting digitalisation into practice in the flat glass processing industry has taken some time but now, momentum has picked up and the number of users is accelerating rapidly. Kai Knuutila explains why. The full version of this article appears in the May/June issue *.

Pioneers like Glaston have helped fuel the demand for greater digitalisation by educating customers about the benefits, demonstrating real progress along their digital strategy roadmap and adding more customers and their data to the cloud to accelerate the entire movement.

The majority of 2018 was spent building confidence by implementing ideas and collecting data to bring the benefits of digitalisation that other industries are starting to enjoy to the glass processing sector. Now, it is possible to look back and see the progress made. Even greater progress has been made than the initial aim and Glaston is proud to present these developments to customers and to the entire industry. This work has led to a lot of information that now offers value.

Reaching the first milestones

By the end of 2018 and according to plan, Glaston successfully reached several of its big milestones: Over 100 tempering and laminating lines are now cloud-connected and data from one million loads has now been recorded.

Growing numbers of glass processors are joining the digitalisation movement because they understand the advantages. At the moment, 38 countries are represented, with the largest number of processors being located in the USA and Europe, followed by Asia-Pacific.

But what do all these figures mean in practice?

These processors understand that by connecting their information, they can learn and improve their operating processes. They know they can fully trust the data so that everyone connected benefits. For them, the more they are tapped into the cloud, the more they can learn about running their equipment smarter, finding ways to raise productivity and discovering ways to improve their quality. In short, making better business decisions that lead to greater profitability.

For machinery suppliers like Glaston, the information gathered helps offer new services based on data analytics. It is possible to see, for example, how the company’s machinery is used, how various glass thicknesses are tempered and laminated and learn more about the types of glass being run and their parameters. This helps to improve Glaston’s own service offering to support customers in reaching higher capacities and better quality.

Real progress with AI

Another development along the company’s digitalisation roadmap is to take artificial intelligence (AI) to the next level, which means enabling tempering and laminating machinery to become fully autonomous. Glaston is currently working intensively on adding machine learning and vision to its technology.

As part of this exercise, the company has implemented augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) to help its own people and customers with training and maintenance tasks. Glaston’s Support Room concept using AR was showcased for the first time at glasstec last autumn and by GPD this summer, further advances will have been made.

There is great excitement around this entire movement, since customers can see the real benefits of AI and also how other digitalisation technologies can help them reach their own business goals. They can use these technologies for better production follow-up, to reach higher capacities and to learn ways to improve their glass quality with more intelligence.

For operators too, digitalisation will make their jobs much easier and less stressful. Still, even with fully autonomous machines, humans will always be needed to take care of the machines, develop the processes and explore innovative types of glass for their markets. The industry will not be operating without humans for many years to come, if ever. People are needed to ask the questions and partner with AI to create the world that is envisioned.

About the Author: 

Kai Knuutila is Digitalisation Manager at Glaston

Further Information: 

Glaston Finland Oy, Tampere, Finland

tel: +358 10 500 500

email: info@glaston.net

web: www.glaston.net

* The full version of this article appears in the bumper 148 page May/June issue, alongside a series of exclusive interviews with industry figureheads, topical market reports and technology updates. Subscribe now to receive the full paper and digital versions (subscribers receive a free copy of the Who’s Who / Annual Review yearbook!).

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