New Options Emerge in IG Equipment

May 14, 2012
FEATURE ARTICLE | Operations
This article accompanies our main equipment market overview in the June/July issue.

 

Last year, GED Integrated Systems introduced the Automated Tri-Lite Assembly System, an automated line for producing triple-glazed units at a competitive cost. Featuring unique capabilities such as “touchless” handling of the center lite of the triple-lite IG, the line has received positive reviews throughout the industry, reports the company's Joe Shaheen.

 
 The "touchless" center lite assembly system in the GED Atlas line for triple-lite IG production.

“Everybody in the industry has been very impressed. People came to see it at the GlassBuild show last year, and they are going to see the beta line that’s up and running,” he says. “Everyone says it’s a great step forward in technology.”

However, there’s “absolute hesitation” in the U.S. to make that kind of investment, he continues. “For most manufacturers, it will be hard to justify the line until the demand for triples is there.” That won’t happen until codes or Energy Star require that level of performance.

Right now, GED sees the Environmental Protection Agency moving to a .27 U-factor requirement for the next Energy Star update, expected to take effect in 2014. As that U-factor number gets closer to .25 or lower, more manufacturers will move seriously into triples production, Shaheen says. That is happening in Canada, he notes, but in the U.S, the shift hasn’t started yet.

For most manufacturers making triples, such units account for 3 percent to 5 percent of their production, he says. Noting that the GED line is designed to integrate production of duals and triples, Shaheen expects that once companies start seeing demand for 10 to 15 percent of their production to be triples, an investment in such equipment will be more easily justified. “We still think there’s a great opportunity with the Atlas line,” he concludes. “We’re just not quite there yet.”

Erdman Automation, on the other hand, sees now as the right time for its new line of IG equipment. It has developed a new modular system designed to bring the benefits of automation to companies with lower volume needs, Donohue reports. For production of units using flexible spacer, the system is designed to produce about 400 units in an 8-hour shift with two people, and also costs less than most other automated IG lines on the market, he notes.

Donohue sees an untapped niche for the equipment, as lower volume IG producers have been looking for higher levels of automation, but had no alternatives. “The industry increasingly sees the value of automation. People appreciate the consistency, the quality. They see the payback,” he continues.

The new line will be unveiled at GlassBuild America, scheduled for September in Las Vegas.