Monday, March 25, 2019

Kai Knuutila headshotPutting digitalization into practice in the glass processing industry has taken some time. But now the momentum has picked up and the number of users is accelerating rapidly. Why is this?

Glaston has helped fuel the demand for greater digitalization 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.

We spent the majority of 2018 building our confidence by implementing ideas and collecting data to bring the benefits of digitalization that other industries are starting to enjoy to the glass processing industry. Now, we can look back and see our progress. We’re actually even further than we initially aimed. Our online reports have improved, and we’re really proud now to present them to customers and to the entire industry. Our 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 1 million loads has now been recorded.

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’re 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 us offer new services based on data analytics.

We can see, for example, how our 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 us improve our own service offering to support our customers in reaching higher capacities and better quality.

Real progress with AI

Another development along our digitalization roadmap is to take artificial intelligence 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, we’ve implemented augmented reality and virtual reality to help our own people and our customers with training and maintenance tasks. Our new support room concept using AR was showcased for the first time at Glasstec last fall – and by the coming GPD Finland this summer, we’re pleased to be able to show everyone more.

For operators, too, digitalization will make their jobs much easier and less stressful. Still, even with fully autonomous machines, we will always need humans to take care of the machines, develop the processes and explore new types of glass for their markets. We won’t be operating without humans for many years to come, if ever. We need people to ask the questions – and partner with AI to create the world we’d like to envision.

Originally published on Glastory

Kai Knuutila is Digitalization Manager at Glaston Corp.

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, March 25, 2019

It was an interesting week with regards to forecasts, indexes and predictions. As I expected, the monthly Architectural Billings Index (ABI) came back to earth. That big positive total in January made no sense. The ABI total was still in the positive range, but just by a hair. Now we wait to see if this settles into a trend or if it seesaws high again next month. Based on the forecasts from the start of the year, growth was supposed to be positive, but not by much, so seeing a big gain again soon would be odd. The key of this process is that this is a picture of where our economic standing will be in a year from now, and that year, 2020, has many of us in a fog. Trying to get a feel for it has been tougher than any forward-looking forecast since the middle of the recession. 

Also, rough news from the Associated Builders and Contractors with their backlog indicator down to 8.1 months. Those are 2014-like numbers. Ouch. But it has to be noted the report had serious bright spots, including the Midwest. In any case, I am going to keep digging and working the angles to see what we have upcoming but it sure is murkier than expected.


  • Speaking of forecasts, good read here: what happens if the auto business starts a downward trend?
  • This week is a big one for events: in New York it’s Glass Expo Northeast and in San Antonio it is the Glass Processing Automation Days (GPAD) event. I will be in Texas for that one; it’s my first time attending that event and I’m looking forward to learning and networking there. Whatever insights I can gather that are good for the blog I will share here next week. Those of you in Long Island, please let me know the same!
  • Exciting news for a very popular industry figure and long-time friend of mine, Jon Johnson. Jon was named national sales manager at Architectural Grills & Sunshades. Congrats, my friend! Super company, and you will do great there.  I am sure I am not alone in looking forward to seeing you at all of the industry events again!
  • Speaking of new positions, a trio of people at Tristar Glass picked up promotions recently. Tim Rome, Derrick Williams and Erica Couch all moved up the ladder there and it was good to see. While I don’t know Tim very well, I have always been a huge fan of Derrick’s—I can’t tell you how many people would rave about how great Derrick is when I traveled through Oklahoma over the years. Erica is a true talent, a very positive force at shows/conferences and in our industry. Her approaches and insights will be very appreciated for sure. Congrats to all of you there and to Tim Kelley for making the call.
  • Glass Magazine review time: the new look really took another strong step this month with the focus of the magazine being “green.” The cover shot was a stunner!  The best article and section for me was the “The Green Building Maze”—a very well done walk through what can be a very confusing area. I have to give major kudos to Katy Devlin and Wendy Vardaman on the entire section. There was a ton of intel to be had there and it’s something that is worth keeping bookmarked for future reference. Also of note, this issue had a couple of my favorite recurring writers, Joe Schiavone and Matt Johnson with must-read pieces and I enjoyed once again the Trendhunter segment—this time with Ryan Park at Sage. Those who know me know I love the dynamic glass space and Ryan did a fine job of laying out the innovation.
  • Ad of the month was a challenge, especially after last month raised the bar very high. Still some wonderful pieces, but only one winner this time: the nod goes to Tremco. Great use of a building image that immediately catches the eye and then a big call to action statement in the middle. Both were great hooks to get me to stop and read. Well done to the folks at Tremco that made this one happen!
  • Last this week: March Madness is underway and I missed making my picks before the tourney started. So, I’ll make it now, and it was the pick that most expect: Duke. The Blue Devils are loaded, but I will admit I’d be quite happy to be wrong here as I am not a fan.

Read on for links and video of the week...

Max Perilstein 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 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, March 18, 2019

David WardenWith the time change having just taken place and spring temperatures looming, I thought this would be a good time to explore the topic of sustainability and transparency within our industry. Earth Day is just around the corner, and while I am a firm believer that we should treat every day like Earth Day, I enjoy celebrating it as a milestone each year, nonetheless.

Sustainability in the glazing industry, and within the broader construction industry, has been a prominent consideration for many years. That said, in 2019 we are still learning a lot about climate change. In late 2018, a report published by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warned that the changes required to hold 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit, as called for in the Paris agreement, would require changes on a scale with “no documented historic precedent,” according to The New York Times. And the latest numbers being cited—more than $265 billion in damage from hurricanes in 2018, according to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration—are unprecedented.

Rapid changes in our environment are critical to the industry. Together, we must question our role in creating buildings designed not only to withstand the elements, but to be manufactured sustainably and perform with higher efficiency long into the future.

Choosing the right products that are going to provide maximum performance is as critical for meeting the challenges of a changing environment as it is in building for ever-changing building codes. Yet identifying the components necessary to deliver on high performance can be a challenge. As I like to say, “construction products shouldn’t be as confusing as your medical bill.” As glazing contractors and manufacturers, we play a pivotal role in helping architects and specifiers understand what to look for in a product to help improve the thermal performance and sustainability of a building.

Many product manufacturers may state the lowest U-value possible alongside their products, however there may be many steps and additional upgrades, like argon gas fill in glass, needed to achieve that performance. Additionally, once those upgrades are realized, it is not uncommon for the initial performance to be value-engineered out of the product to meet the right price point.

As glazing contractors and product manufacturers, we can help avoid this mistake and provide ease to the process with a simple tool—communication. We should aim to work more closely with architects and specifiers to provide a strong understanding of how to achieve the desired performance at the most economical price. For example, an architect may specify a specific high-performance framing system designed to achieve a strong level of energy efficiency. However, when looking at bids for framing/glass combinations, he or she may not realize the cost required to meet the desired energy performance. Rather than the architect favoring a lower price point and sub-optimizing the overall building performance, proper communication early in the process with the glazing contractor and/or product manufacturer could help the architect better understand the benefit of energy efficiency.

The lesson learned? The more communication, the better. The stronger the understanding an architect or specifier has of the solution, be it framing or another product, the better positioned he or she is to make a well-informed decision—one that is good for their customer, the occupant and the environment.

This is just one example of how we as an industry can better enable our projects to be more sustainable, more resilient and more economical over the long-term. There is much more that we can do, but this type of communication is certainly a strong step in the right direction. 

David Warden is the enerGfacade® brand manager for YKK AP America’s family of energy efficient fenestration products and is responsible for spearheading marketing efforts both externally and internally for the product line. He has been with the company for more than 17 years and is beginning his eighth year as the enerGfacade brand manager.

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, March 18, 2019

The last few weeks have been a real whirlwind, so time to get caught up and clear off my desk. Here goes:

  • The annual Top 50 Glazier issue is coming soon from Glass Magazine and to make the 27th annual list as best as it can be, please take a few minutes to do the survey—if you are a glazing company of course. Click here for survey. I love that issue—it’s always great to see the who’s who on that list!
  • The Dodge Momentum Index went down again in its latest report. That index has been pretty volatile of late, but I think the one takeaway here for sure is that things are a bit murky in the construction world. I am staying positive, but I would like to see this index find some consistent trends.
  • I am enthralled with the whole college entrance scandal that broke this week and ended up in the arrests of high-powered business people and entertainers. It really is amazing that when you have the sort of money and power that these people have you would go to illegal lengths to get your kids in to college. In many cases the kids did not want to go to college, but the parents wanted them to go. It’s an incredible story that I have feeling still has a few more chapters to it.

My pal Ted Bleecker had a tremendous quote on this whole scandal:

“Considering what people are doling out just to get their kid's into college, I feel content paying six figures the old fashioned way... No entrance fee required” 

  • Off topic, one movie to see and one to get excited to see. First up “Free Solo” the Oscar Award winning documentary about a guy who free climbed “El Cap” was incredible. The last 20 minutes will have you on the edge of your seat. Insane. The other is coming in the next month or two and is called “Yesterday.” It’s a creative look at a world without the “Beatles”—check my video of the week for a preview!
  • Speaking of videos—go to this link and see a glass door in “action.” Thank you to my good friend Jon Johnson for sharing. The glass “worked” the hinges and install? Not so much!
  • Thirsty Thursday alert: on March 21, the legend Bill Lingnell and the great Urmilla Sowell will have a presentation on edge grinding of laminated glass. I was honored to work on a session with this topic at the 2018 GlassBuild with Bill. It’s a deep, interesting and important topic if you are dealing with laminated glass. Register here.
  • Last this week: we as an industry and the world itself lost another great person recently with the passing of Ruben Huerta of Glasswerks. Ruben was a part of the management and ownership at Glasswerks and was absolutely loved. Great guy and a huge loss. My thoughts and condolences go out to Ruben’s friends and family and the entire team at Glasswerks. I know Ruben will be sorely missed.

Read on for links and video of the week... 

Max Perilstein 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 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, March 12, 2019

Norah DickIt's time to submit your survey for the Top 50 Glaziers program, the longest-running glass industry ranking of top glazing contractors. The June 2019 issue of Glass Magazine will feature the highest-earning contract glaziers of 2018.

While the 27th annual report will feature leading North American glazing firms, ranked based on annual gross sales, it will also showcase standout glaziers who might not otherwise make the minimum cutoff. 

We want to feature the glass industry's achievements. In order for us to provide the most accurate and up-to-date information, we rely on direct submissions from the industry. If your company should be included in the Top 50 Glaziers report, please complete the survey. The submission deadline is March 29, 2019.

Please contact me with any questions or comments.

Norah Dick is the assistant editor of Glass Magazine. Contact her at

Monday, March 11, 2019

BEC 2019 was like a blur to me. One moment it’s starting, and the next I’m in a crazy cab line at 3:30 a.m. headed back to the airport. Thankfully, I took notes along the way to share with everyone.

My overall feel was the event was a huge success at every level. Networking is always top notch and it did not disappoint this year. More on that below. The educational content was off-the-charts incredible. We had a lot of new voices and personalities onstage, and they brought a great energy to the event. There was so much detailed info that it was almost too much (if that’s possible!). The planning committee has its work cut out for 2020.

Some highlights: 

  • One person I hope is back at the next BEC is Cynthia Paul of FMI— her forecast and sharp presentation was a major highlight for me. On a personal note, I was very fortunate to host a panel that featured some serious brilliance. Paul Robinson of Pioneer Cladding & Glazing Systems, Brian Filipiak of Alliance Glazing and Neil Opfer from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, were fabulous. Getting to work with industry guys like Paul and Brian was a thrill for me: they are superstars. 
  • The tabletop area was really interesting—so many neat products. The main ones that stood out were the handrail glass and insulating glass with glass spacer from sedak. The other one was the new safety clothing from Bohle America. I saw this material at glasstec and fell in love, and now it has advanced from what was on the floor in Germany. It’s a game changer for safety.

Now, onto the networking and the folks I got to visit with. I’ll say it up front, it is an honor to share an industry with these folks and all that attended. Class acts everywhere!

  • The industry MVP from 2018, Nathalie Thibault of Prelco, was there, and getting a few minutes with her is awesome, as is reminiscing with her co-worker Greg DiVona. Greg remembers me when I was breaking in, and he treated me just as great then as he does now. I will always be grateful for that. It was great to see Darand Davies who just started a new company, Black Line Glazing, and was 150 pounds lighter—he looked tiptop! Meanwhile, seeing Keith Stockman of Glasswerks was very nice, a reminder of a great friend from past work history.
  • Dan Pompeo, one of the best manufacturers’ reps around, was a bit down in the dumps; after all it’s been, like, 28 days since one of his Boston teams won a world title. Poor guy, LOL. I always love visiting with Mike Gainey of Ensinger. Mike’s knowledge base never fails to impress me, and I always learn something when we visit. The same goes for Dr. Helen Sanders, as it doesn’t matter what she’s focused on, I am learning. 
  • It was very cool to meet Josh Wignall of EFCO Corp. for the first time in person. He is a force online, with a great marketing mind, so to meet him face to face was an honor. Same with Steven Brooks of SmartLift USA. His energy level is infectious! And while it’s not the first time I met Tom Donovan of Suntuitive, it was his first BEC and it looked like he was doing well with tons of people interested in his growing product.
  • A blast from the past was Brad Austin of Harmon. This event and its success can be sourced back to the support that Brad gave it in the early years when he was at Viracon. And, of course, speaking of that great company, once again my admiration for Garret Henson, Cameron Scripture and Seth Madole could not be any higher. Such good people and I appreciate them giving me just a few seconds of their time. Same with Jim Stathopoulos of Ajay Glass who is always welcoming and classy.
  • This was the 2nd BEC after NGA and GANA’s combination, and I thought about the commitments that people like Stanley Yee of Dow Corning made to make this industry better. Stanley is always 10 steps ahead of the rest of us. So is Julie Schimmelpenningh of Eastman. We were on same flight out and got to catch up at the airport, because once we get to the conference, Julie gets mobbed by people and I never see her again. Same scenario with Chris Dolan of Guardian Glass—airport catch up and then we don’t see each other again. Their popularity is awesome.
  • It wouldn’t be a BEC without celebrating a birthday for Jerry Moser of R.A. Kennedy & Sons. Jerry is an absolute legend. Love the guy. And if I didn’t include Max Halls and Ian Patlin in that same category, I’d be doing a massive disservice to them.
  • It would not be an industry event if I didn’t see the great Tom O’Malley from Clover Architectural and the amazing Shelly Farmer from Trex Commercial Products. Both of them do such a great job working the room and event; they get it. I should put Chuck Knickerbocker of TGP in that same group too!
  • I was bummed that Jon Kimberlain of Dow could not make it to the event. Jon is another one who had such a major role in BEC’s past; it was noticeable not to have him there. Hopefully he followed along on social media. 
  • Last this week, a quick story. Twice during the event I was confused for Max Halls. Both folks who confused me for Max had a bit too much to drink, but I have to say I was pretty pumped to be confused for a very skinny, tanned guy with great hair. I guess I should hang around with folks who are drinking more often? Anyway, this event is done, and now my focus show-wise will be on GlassBuild America in September. Get ready, folks, we have an event like no other coming in a few months, and we are going to pack the A-T-L with thousands of glass industry professionals who all want to advance their businesses and careers.

Read on for links and video of the week...

Max Perilstein 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 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, March 4, 2019

Delegated design is the process where the design professional of record, the architect or engineer (AOR or EOR), defers detailed design and engineering responsibilities for certain building elements or systems, usually to a constructor or subcontractor, and their “delegated design” professional, typically a professional engineer.

The delegated design process includes for example, things like pre-fabricated stairs, steel connections, tilt-up precast panels, railings, and our favorite in the context of this blog, the curtain wall and exterior cladding systems. Building permitting is provided by the authority having jurisdiction, contingent upon the delegated entities providing PE sealed documents, shop drawings, calculation reports, etc., prior to occupancy and completion of construction. These are usually called “deferred submittals.” Let’s confine this discussion to curtain wall systems as a category.

Custom and monumental curtain wall systems are getting increasingly complex. Simultaneously, standard curtain wall systems are getting increasingly well defined, or at least accessible. There’s a bit of a dichotomy in this. On the one hand, the presence of online resources provides access to standard system typologies in increasing clarity, even though the applications to the particular building are still very specific. At the same time, available technologies, computer and modeling tools, the increase in performance requirements, owner demand, and more, are making custom systems increasingly complex. Remember too, that compliance needs rarely decrease with code cycles and as building science evolves, so does the scope of documentation and the components being documented continue to get more rigorous.

There’s a slight problem though; a trend that continues to reveal itself. It has been happening for quite some time. While delegated design requirements and responsibilities are increasing, in general, the quality of documentation in contract documents—architectural drawings and specifications—is decreasing. This is not to say all projects are in this category, but it’s generally what we see more often than not. More work is being required to be done by the delegated design professional and their team to get dimensions, details, missing information, to secure answers to RFI’s, coordinate around conflicts, and to drive the curtain wall design and engineering to conclusion. Submittal reviews also tend to take more time than in the past, and often lack clarity in the response and commentary. The conclusion of this process is expressed in a set or sets of shop drawings and engineering calculations, with other support documents, from which the system can be fabricated and installed.

If technologies and tools defined the quality of work products, then we would be seeing increasing clarity as a trend. While specific projects and AOR teams do achieve a high level of clarity, this is generally not the case as a whole. More often than not, there’s a lack of information and over-reliance on technologies, as if a building model or image will overcome a lack of clarity in thought and application.

Consequently, we work to develop means, methods, tools, deliverables, RFI logs, formats, contexts, and pricing strategies to accomplish the work. We propose approaches to projects using pre-construction design-assist collaboration, frequent team huddles, clarity in the scope of deliverables, and better front-end scrubbing or analysis of the contract documents. Collaboration is key, as well as overall project communication. (Communication problems are the largest single factor in risk claims in the AEC industry, by the way.) 

When architects, subcontractors, delegated design professionals, and other stakeholders work together, this process can be quite fruitful and productive. When they do not, it’s a challenging process. We all need to do a better job, together, of defining the project plan, what each entity is accountable for, and to stick to it. The work always seems to get done, but sometimes there’s too much collateral damage left behind. I believe the industry, those of us working together, are mature enough to lead in this regard and to drive to improved results. Who’s with me?

John Wheaton is the founder & co-owner of Wheaton & Sprague Engineering, Inc., also known as Wheaton Sprague Building Envelope. The firm provides full service design, engineering and consulting services for the curtain wall/building envelope/building enclosure industry, and works at “Creating Structure” for clients. He can be reached at and on Twitter, @JohnLWheaton1. 

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, March 4, 2019

It’s finally BEC week and I, along with 600 others, will be learning the latest details in the contract glazing world, while networking all the way through. As I always do, next week I’ll have a complete recap with everything I learned and those folks I was lucky enough to bump into. Events like this are so crucial for our industry and our future. If you have missed this one, I’ll let it pass but we have Fall Conference coming and then the granddaddy of the them all—GlassBuild America in September. That is one you simply cannot afford to skip, especially this year. A lot more coming on that and the new exciting events scheduled at North America’s largest glass and glazing event! 


  • Congrats to my friend, the brilliant Rob Struble and the folks at Vitro on the launch of a new brand identity. The look is super; love the color and the texture aspect to the logo. The tag line is different and creative. All in all, a great job by everyone involved there.
  • Also kudos to Tara Brummet of Vitrum on her recent promotion to business development manager. I have known Tara for several years and she’s a tremendous talent and person. I am very happy that she continues to move up the ladder; a great call by Thomas Martini and the team at Vitrum.
  • Good read from Alex Carrick of ConstructConnect this week on the hottest labor markets. This list is pretty much what you would expect if you follow the construction world, though some in the top 10 surprised me. Here are a few:

    Orlando was No.1 and given what I have seen when I have been there recently, makes sense. I was surprised to see Phoenix at No.2, I thought they were lagging, but I guess not. Austin and Houston were tied at No.3 and Dallas-Ft Worth at No.8, which means the great state of Texas is still indeed great.

    On the ones that were a lot lower than I thought: Nashville and Charlotte tied at No.21 and Washington, D.C. at No.34 were surprising. Whole breakdown and explanations are here.
  • From all accounts the International Builders Show in Las Vegas was strong. Once again, the big door systems caught the eyeballs of the crowd. That has been a trend for a while now and hits on the same theme we have on the commercial side. Large spans that allow natural light are the key. Attitude on the floor from what I am told was positive about the economy and market as well. I’ll take that any day of the week. 
  • I saw an article on the potential upgrades to the Pittsburgh International Airport. The upgrades look great but my mind raced back to when this new airport opened in the early 90s. I was new to the business, but our family company fabricated a ton of the glass work there. (Remember my brother Steve can sell better than anyone—that’s how a fabricator our size did a job like that). Once the job was complete and the airport opened my brother and I went out to see it. This was obviously pre-9/11 and the Pittsburgh Airport was built like a mall, with a heavy retail presence unlike any airport before. You could come and go as you wanted with minimal security. We walked around the entire terminal bending over and looking at logos and markings on spacers. Celebrating when we saw “PDC” and getting bummed when we saw others.  

    Anyway, the updated airport renderings made me think back to those truly different times, and my gosh if we did the searching for logos (on our hands and knees, standing on chairs etc.) and markings in today’s security climate we’d be sent to jail!
  • Last this week, not glass related but interesting nonetheless: a contest to come up with new drinking cups. For me I didn’t realize what the make-up of the current “disposable” coffee and soda cups were and what they are potentially doing to the environment, so this contest seems fascinating. We’ll see what happens next.

Read on for links and video of the week...

Max Perilstein 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 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.