glassblog

Monday, January 14, 2019

On Oct. 8, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change published its Special Report on Global Warming. According to the report, limiting global warming would require “rapid and far-reaching” transitions in land, energy, industry, buildings, transport and cities. Ever since the publication of the report, the discussion has been actively laying out different paths to solve climate change topics debating which sectors should contribute the most. The answer is quite clear: all sectors must contribute. However, some sectors consume more energy and omit more carbon dioxide than others.

Glass windows—part of the problem but also a solution
Glass windows are estimated to be responsible for almost 25 percent of heating needs in the European Union and for almost 10 percent of cooling needs. Upfront it looks like glass is a big part of the problem, and when looking at the numbers one would probably claim it is today. However, given new intelligent glass technologies currently being developed, glass has much higher potential as a solution to the energy efficiency and global warming problems we face today.

Emerging glass technologies and value-adding glass products, such as smart glass, are making a strong entry into the market. Smart glass has the ability to control the amount of heat and light passing through the window and thereby significantly reduce energy consumption. However, the issue is not just about how windows keep the heat inside or outside. Smart glass can convert sunshine into energy. Needless to say, that partially or completely energy self-sufficient buildings would play a powerful role in improving the energy efficiency of the sector. As a result, the potential for smart glass is big and the glass market is expected to see double digit growth during the coming years.

Emerging Technologies accelerate intelligent glass technologies
Smart glass is not the only new application within the glass industry being developed as an answer to current energy consumption and efficiency issues. As the technology leader within the glass processing industry, Glaston’s aim is to be the industry developer and accelerator for emerging technologies. By doing so the company combines commercial targets with societal needs. At the beginning of 2017, the Glaston Emerging Technologies unit was established. The unit provides consulting and engineering services for smart glass and energy glass window production as well as solar energy applications. The unit also sells and delivers the required production lines. Potential areas are solar energy solutions, smart glass and various aviation and automotive industry products.

Currently Glaston is engaged in discussions with several companies on the development and practical application of new glass technologies. Typically, these are pioneering companies in their own fields, operating in the global market. Through its technological expertise and extensive contact network, Glaston has in a short space of time achieved the status of a proactive, reliable partner for companies developing and commercializing smart glass inventions.

Originally published on Glastory

Joséphine Mickwitz is VP, IR, Communications and Marketing, Glaston Corporation.

The opinions expressed here are those of the individual author and do not necessarily reflect those of the National Glass Association, Glass Magazine editors, or other glassblog contributors.

Monday, January 14, 2019

Before we can really look into 2019, time to take a look back at 2018. Did my predictions come close or did I fail like I do when I try to pick winners in sporting events? Let’s take a look:

1. Trucking will be a bigger challenge
I believe it was tough, but was it a bigger challenge and did the Department of Transportation rules change anything? I am not sure. I know it’s a constant battle, but I’m not sure it cratered the way I thought.

2. Going big
I felt that sophisticated glazing would be in style, and in 2018 it was. No matter how challenging the project, it could be done and there were multiple avenues to get it done.

3. Security glass goes wild
I had this prediction in 2017. I had it in 2018. Believe me, I am putting it on the list next week for 2019. It was a better year for security glass, especially in the school segment. Sadly, the need is there.

4. Private equity in and out
I thought we’d have some exits along with new players. No exits, but plenty of new and aggressive PE’s are on the scene now. Half-right here.

5. NGA and GANA will merge and be great in the end
The merge formalized, and slowly, but surely the unified voice is really finding its footing. This was a massive undertaking and I am still extremely confident that it’s going to be a great thing. So far, so good; with streamlined efforts in place, this will only continue to evolve and improve.

I was not too far off, overall. Better than my pick for the Super Bowl this year, the Carolina Panthers. Oops. Anyway, next week we’ll have my predictions for 2019.

Elsewhere…

  • I had a lot of reaction to my overall economic look for this year and into 2020. Most of the reaction was that the positive indicators are outweighing the negative. That was very good to hear. We’ll keep on it. Still, I think we’re going to see a dip in the next ABI and I’ll be curious to see if a trend develops.
  • NGA Annual Conference is coming up fast! Have you looked at it or made arrangements yet? The keynote speech by Lisa Rammig is an absolute must-see. Staying ahead of codes, guidelines, and the technical movements in our world is crucial too. Click here to register.
  • I came across an older article about trends in smart hotels; there’s some specific areas that affect our world, specifically the modular building, which I have noted many times. It will be fascinating to see how that and some of these other trends take off.

Read on for links and video of the week…

The author is founder of Sole Source Consultants, a consulting firm for the building products industry that specializes in marketing, branding, communication strategy and overall reputation management, as well as website and social media, and codes and specifications. 

E-mail him at MaxP@SoleSourceConsultants.com.

The opinions expressed here are those of the individual author and do not necessarily reflect those of the National Glass Association, Glass Magazine editors, or other glassblog contributors.

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Construction may be going bionic.

Sarcos Robotics, a global technology firm that designs robotic systems, announced in November 2018 that the company developed a" full-body, powered industrial exoskeleton robotic system," the Guardian XO Max, according to a company release. The technology, the product of a nearly two-decade R&D process, allows the user to lift up to 200 pounds and is slated to be available in 2020.

“The potential for full-body, powered exoskeleton technology is immense—from giving our workers super-human strength without putting added strain on their bodies, to improving productivity and efficiency,” says John Santagate, research director, IDC, a market intelligence firm.

The new Guardian XO Max is a full-body exoskeleton
designed for industrial, public safety and military sectors,
according to Sarcos Robotics, the manufacturer.

Sarcos Robotics' innovation, designed for the industrial market, has clear implications for all construction and building industries, and specifically for workers on the jobsite. And survey responses from the Commercial Construction Index, compiled by the USG Corp. and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, suggest that construction contractors are ready to invest in these new technologies. The Q4 2018 report of the CCI, released in December 2018, showed that 74 percent of construction contractors surveyed expect to adopt new technologies, including wearable technology, over the next three years.

Current wearable technologies include a range of some automated equipment and robotics, but also wearable sensors connected to the BIM model that may denote what training and permissions employees have, says Donna Laquidara-Carr, Industry Insights Research Director at Dodge Data & Analytics. “These kinds of tags are designed to make workers’ abilities and movements transparent to a supervisor,” she says. “For example, workers moving into a section of a worksite that is beyond their training level might be flagged as a danger to prevent injury.”

According to the CCI, most contractors—83 percent—see wearable technology as a way to improve worker safety. Improved workforce management and productivity were other perceived advantages.

Increased affordability is also a likely variable in the adoption of these technologies. “Cost is always a major factor,” says Laquidara-Carr. “Costs for those technologies are coming down, contributing to contractors' interest in using them.”

Another factor in the anticipated adoption of these technologies is the growing tech literacy of workers. While the construction industry can be slow to change, says Laquidara-Carr, most workers at construction companies have become familiar with different forms of tech through regular use. “Workers no longer have this huge barrier to learn fancy new tech,” she says. “Normal consumers, including people in construction, have gotten much more tech savvy.” 

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

We’ve made it to 2019, and it's time to talk about what I see business wise for the upcoming months.   

Overall, I am taking a positive outlook. I am hopeful that 2019 features a more even-keeled performance than 2018. For many, last year was a tale of two seasons—the first half not great, followed by a strong finish. This year should have a more consistent performance and be a year with a slight amount of growth. Backlogs are filled on the glazing contractor side, and the metrics I follow for 2019 are all looking up.  

The big worry is what’s coming in 2020. That’s where there’s some concern. Normally at this point in the cycle you can start to see what is heading our way, and the initial view does show some choppy waters. Residential and auto futures are looking softer for 2020, and that is usually a signal that commercial weakening could follow right behind. If that is the case, we could see an uneven 2020.  

I will note that it is still very far off, and things can and do change quickly, but for now I have a little pessimism in my bones for 2020. I’ll keep monitoring and updating here. Over the next few weeks, I am going to post my prediction review from last year and offer new predictions for 2019. Stay tuned for more to come. 

And no matter what the predictions or markets say, please check out Katy Devlin’s Glass Magazine blog, “How to Recession-proof Your Business.”  Tremendously helpful piece. 

Elsewhere…

  • Related to the above, the last Architectural Billings Index was a monster, finishing up at 54.7. This was a nice gain over the previous month, which posted the barely breaking-even score of 50.4. However, I have a feeling that the next release on Jan. 23 will be the first one in the last 14 months under the break-even number. We’ll see…
  • Glass Magazine review time: the December issue featured the team from Steel Encounters on its cover, moving glass. The issue was dedicated to handling equipment, so those articles were fascinating to me—so much advancement in that area. Also, I love any time my pal Joe Schiavone of C.R. Laurence Co. writes, and he has a great piece in there co-written with Brian Stratton of Linetec. Well done! Also, check out Bryan Bush’s backlog calculator article—extremely informative.
  • Ad of the month was a tough one again. There was a good mix of ads from handling folks, along with others trying to get their messages across. My winner for this month is Midwest Wholesale Hardware. I liked the bold approach with the font, use of color and layout. Congrats to the folks there on this smart approach!
  • During the holidays, I saw a lot of ads for Mirror.co, which is a fitness application built into a wall mirror. I found that very interesting. Anyone else see it, or have one of these yet? TV makes it look very easy and makes the mirror look good. Who knows, this could drive more mirror business someday…
  • I found a good article on design build and project management, and the process involved, at Building Design+Construction.
  • Last this week, just a sincere thank you from my entire family for the thoughts and prayers shared to us upon the passing of our mother, Ettie Perilstein. It was a tough week, but the support shown by so many of our friends in this great industry truly was meaningful and greatly appreciated. Thank you.


Read on for links and video of the week…

The author is founder of Sole Source Consultants, a consulting firm for the building products industry that specializes in marketing, branding, communication strategy and overall reputation management, as well as website and social media, and codes and specifications.

E-mail him at MaxP@SoleSourceConsultants.com. The opinions expressed here are those of the individual author and do not necessarily reflect those of the National Glass Association, Glass Magazine editors, or other glassblog contributors.