glassblog

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

The quality level of all manufactured goods assembled and delivered in the curtain wall supply chain flow downhill from design and engineering decision-making, whether good or bad. The assembled system of products that is a “curtain wall system” applied uniquely to each building type and layout is only as good as the decision-making that is input throughout design and engineering, regardless of how well the quality of glass, metal, sealants, thermal breaks and other components perform or adhere to specification. That’s why the decision-making supply chain is so important.

There are two basic elements to a supply chain: the decisions that feed into it, and the materials that make it up. Much is discussed and defined in the material supply chain. Conversely, little is done often in the clarity, definition, operating procedures, limits and boundaries in the decision-making supply chain.

Decision-making in the supply chain
These decision-making elements of the supply chain are delivered as a service and as intellectual capital to the project team members, while goods and products are produced in the design, engineering, and project management process. We think, often without appropriate self-awareness, that since much of this is made up of what we think of as “soft skills” (which are really “hard” and have everything to do with success) that we can’t define and govern them.

Taking responsibility for decisions
So much of this aspect is left to chance and good will. We hear phrases like “well I have no control over the architect” or “I’m at the mercy of the owner on this one.” Not true. We have the opportunity to control ourselves, our company behavior and approach, our processes and to define with clarity what each person and business in the decision-making supply chain is expected to be responsible for. We can define accountabilities, procedures, chain of command obligations, and how decisions will be made and approved. These things are too important and there’s too much at stake to leave it to chance.

Getting on the same page
We should do all that we can to treat decision-making, decision processes, milestones, submittal reviews, operational procedures, scope definitions, design criteria, submittal processes, design meetings and other instruments of service or expression of intellectual capital in the same manner by which we define material specifications and tolerances in the material supply chain. 

This means sharing standards, communication platforms and protocols, QC lists, product specs, decision-making protocol, and similar areas, getting design professionals on all sides, including those at the vendors and suppliers, on the same page and under the same set of standards.

Most breakdowns on projects, in customer service, and in creating a quality product, occur in the area of communication. If there’s a lack of clarity, there will be a problem.

Defining decision-making processes is a good thing. When decision-making fails, and it will at various points along the way, we should confront it, mitigate it, manage it, reveal it, use it as a time to learn and adjust, and then move on to better outcomes.

Nothing should be taken for granted. Everything is best done in a collaborative manner, with professional candor, with as much clarity as can be created, and with accountability on all sides. Let’s not throw stuff over the wall and leave outcomes to chance.

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 jwheaton@wheatonsprague.com and on Twitter, Instagram and Word Press @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.

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

A few weeks ago, I was extremely honored to give the keynote address at the Texas Glass Association Glass Conference II. It really was a wonderful experience as the folks from great state of Texas are some of the best around. They are truly classy and hospitable to the end.

The theme of my hour-long presentation was “State of the Industry” where I spent around 30 minutes on economic forecasts and then the rest on trends, concepts, events, and conclusions. On the forecast side I pulled data from 11 different sources and went through many different segments and applications. The main takeaway I provided after all of this research was that there is a softening of the markets coming our way. It doesn’t look like it will be a long stretch and there’s no indicators that show the weaknesses being as bad as 2008-2009, but it was interesting for me to get into all of the data and see this is what we have coming.

Basically, there will be some lighter volumes into 2020, with things improving towards the end of next year and into 2021. One of the things I told the attendees was to look at technology and innovation now instead of later. If you can improve yourself or your operation now—meaning efficiencies, etc.—this is the time to do it.  Don’t wait until next year, that is for sure. 

The event overall was fantastic. Dustin Anderson of Anderson Glass had an incredible presentation on the workforce of today and how to reach them. He’s become a very polished and natural speaker—he’s more than just a TV star these days. In addition, I really enjoyed what Nathan McKenna of Vitro and Erica Couch of Tri-Star delivered in their spots. Great stuff all the way around. Kudos to Felix Munson, Sam Hill, and everyone at the TGA for a job well done!

Elsewhere…

  • I did also talk about the Architectural Billings Index and was waiting to see if we were back in the black this month after our first down month in two years. Sure enough, we climbed into positive territory, with a reading barely at 50.5. I had a feeling it would pop up from its low number in the previous month and now I see it treading water for a while. 
  • Glass Magazine review time: the issue has “Protector” on the very snazzy cover and is the May 2019 edition. The main theme is Glass & Metals 401: Guide to Protective Glazing. With how important this segment is in our world right now, I strongly recommend you grab the issue or check it out online as the info in here is absolutely fabulous and necessary. 
  • Ad of the month goes to C.R. Laurence. “The Building Envelope Simplified” was an excellent ad piece that truly shows the power of glass and smartly showed where CRL’s contributions were. The picture and callouts did the heavy lifting and impressed me. Kudos to the minds behind that one.
  • I never fly in or out of JFK in NYC, but I may have to make an exception someday to get to the new TWA hotel there. Looks incredibly cool!
  • Last this week, another GlassBuild plug from me. Don’t click away, read on please. Have you registered yet? Have you gotten the hotel taken care of? If not do it now—we have now passed Memorial Day and we all know this summer will fly by. There’s a ton of good pieces in the works for the show and you will need to be there and especially if you are looking to the advice I laid out at the top of the post. You have to be there. Any questions on it, please reach out to me!

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

Monday, May 20, 2019

Miika AppelqvistEnergy efficiency plays two parts in the story of tempered flat glass: the production portion and the installed phase. Glass production is an energy-intensive process by its nature, so even small reductions there can result in considerable savings in energy and costs. And the energy costs of heating and cooling city buildings are astronomical.

First, let us consider efficiency in the production of flat tempered glass. How we look at energy consumption is not only about green values, the environment and government subsidies. It’s also about decreasing operating costs and time of manufacture.

In a glass tempering line, the furnace section accounts for the largest share of the total line energy consumption. The majority of energy goes to heating the glass. And the most direct energy savings can be found in reducing heat losses during that process.

Efficiency in action

Recent innovations in glass processing have created a world of new environmentally friendly options for green experts. A modern tempering line actually reduces heating losses from compressed air systems, convection generation, time wastage and furnace walls. It also helps cut down on energy output in quenching and cooling, thanks to improved loading efficiency and furnace capacity.

The speed of the line also plays a role in the energy expended per piece of glass produced. Waiting time is wasted energy.

Another critical part of optimizing flat glass tempering lines for energy reduction is to make sure that operators have been trained in efficient power use. They should be familiar with the metric of optimal energy consumption, so they can judge their own effectiveness. Today there are also tools to measure energy efficiency by each operator.

Daylighting interiors

Although energy savings are hugely important for producers during manufacture, the amount of energy expended during production is very small compared to the total energy usage in buildings. Moreover, this further depends on the type of glass installation.

Green building materials, and glass in particular have an important part to play in the reduction of energy requirements for modern commercial buildings. One term in use these days for glass design in buildings is daylighting. Well-diffused outdoor light has been found to be more healthful and obviously less expensive than indoor lighting. Dynamic glass can also provide shading. These same glass features can reduce heating and cooling costs dramatically.

The ultimate clear breakthrough

Just a few years ago, a fully transparent solar concentrator was first created to turn any sheet of glass into a solar cell. Transparency was achieved by shrinking the components. And shrinking means the way they absorb light has changed.

After the cell is altered, it harvests only the parts of the solar spectrum we can’t see with our eyes. So it captures just the ultraviolet and infrared light, and the rest of the spectrum is free to pass through. This allows the panels to be transparent to the eye.

Today, many glass application development projects concentrate on bringing intelligence into the glass pane. This doesn’t only apply to transparent solar cells but to all kinds of smart-glazing applications. The future of energy efficiency belongs to glass.

Originally published on Glastory.

Miika Äppelqvist is vice president, 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.

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

The Glass Magazine Awards are back, with brand new categories to showcase the glass industry's most innovative products and projects from the last year. Submit your nomination by May 24.

Brand new categories
Glass Magazine awards are split into two major categories, products and projects. This year's list of project sub-categories recognizes a changing glass industry landscape, with new awards for Best Green Project and Best Jumbo Glass Project.

New product award categories aim to recognize the entire supply chain, from Best Innovation for Architects, to Best Innovation for Installers. Learn more about the categories and competition rules here.

Dave Vermeulen accepts a Glass Magazine Award for
Technical Glass Products at the 2018 GlassBuild
America 
awards ceremony. 

A continuing celebration
Every year, Glass Magazine Award winners have their work showcased in the September issue of the magazine. Last year, for the first time, award winners were also recognized in a ceremony on the floor of GlassBuild America. The editorial team plans to continue this new tradition by celebrating the best innovators in the industry, at the longest-running tradeshow in the industry, during this year's GlassBuild America. 

If you have questions, comments, or trouble submitting the form, please contact Norah Dick, assistant editor, at ndick@glass.org. Thank you for your participation!

Monday, May 13, 2019

In our industry, it is easy to get bogged down in the details, and with good reason. The right cuts, sealants used and installation processes can make or break a job. We live in a world where every detail and measurement is critical to the success of a project. But if we take the time to step back, what we are doing is much bigger. As glazing contractors, manufacturers and architects, we are designing the future. And each building, with its own design inspiration and personality, tells a story.

It may sound a bit hyperbolic, but as I was speaking at a conference recently about one of our recent projects, this rang particularly true to me. And as I got to thinking about it, I realized how crucial of a role we each play in making these stories come to life.

The JW Marriot shows the evolution of Nashville

The JW Marriott Nashville was a particularly noteworthy project, as the building owner and architects on the job set out to truly design an icon—a building that would forever change the skyline of the city of Nashville. The glass and fenestration were custom-designed to create the unique shape of the building—a football-like elliptical shape—as well as meet the acoustic and energy requirements. Each aspect of this project helped to tell the story about a changing and growing metropolis, and a building that would be written into its history.

JW Marriott Nashville

Tulane University School of Business blends with its environment

Tulane University School of BusinessThe JW Marriott is just one example, but it doesn’t take an iconic building to have a story. Tulane University’s School of Business is another great example. Every aspect of the design tells a story about its philosophy. It was designed around its environment, saving 100-year-old oaks by weaving around them in a snake-like fashion, using the most high-performing glass and fenestration for protection from coastal weather challenges, and providing the ideal environment for higher learning, with an emphasis on day lighting and acoustics. 

Every project has its own vision, and as glazing contractors and manufacturers, we are responsible for bringing that vision to life. Like many things often are, this incredible responsibility is easily lost in the fast-paced nature and detail-oriented culture of our industry.

But if we change our view and think about the story that we want to tell and the legacy the building will hold, it can change how we work together. For example, we may all be inclined to look for solutions to problems, whether it be a slight modification or customization that may make a big difference in the end result. By working together throughout a project in a professional and collaborative way, we can tell these stories successfully and with high regard for each role in the process.

Steve Schohan is a marketing and communications manager at YKK AP America, where he develops marketing strategies and leads research efforts on emerging markets and trends, with an emphasis on driving industry product evolution and innovation. Schohan has more than 25 years of experience in the retail, construction, home improvement and consumer products industries. He has served as the vice president of QEP, a company involved with the manufacturing, marketing and distribution of a comprehensive line of specialty tools and flooring products. Schohan also spent nearly 15 years with Dow Chemical Company.

Monday, May 13, 2019

A couple of fun ones to cover at this top of the post this week. First, the single most prestigious award program in the entire glass industry is now open for nominations: The Glass Magazine Awards for 2019 launched last week and I am so excited to see the process play out. There are so many great categories that will really show off the extreme talent in our industry. So check out the link and get your projects and products in!

Also, my summer interview series, “The Big 3,” is back again. Last summer I interviewed several people from many different walks of life in the glass and glazing universe and I’m doing it again this year. I already have nine people on my wish list, and I am starting to reach out now. If all goes well, I’ll start rolling out the first one in the next few weeks, and it will run through the next few months. 

Elsewhere…

  • Congrats to the folks at Guardian Glass on their new website. A nice advancement on the previous version, layout is solid for user experience and the video piece in center of screen works well. Tons of info on there too. Good job to all involved!
  • New fun follow on Twitter is Cursed Architecture Find it @CursedArchitect, and follow along as the post some of the craziest layouts and mistakes you could ever imagine.
  • Fall Conference registration is open and its being held in the great town of Toledo. Unfortunately I have to miss it, and that’s killing me as there’s a load of very important technical items on the agenda. There’s also the “Old Guard Group,” which brings together some of the best folks our industry has ever had, and they share their wisdom. 
  • Speaking of the Fall Conference, a staple at events like that was Doug Nelson. Sadly, the word broke at the end of last week that Doug had passed away. No doubt that was some rough news to hear. Doug was the owner of the Brin group in Minnesota and was a force in the Flat Glass Manufacturers Association and then into the Glass Association of North America back in the day. I will always remember Doug for just holding court amongst the crowd. He was bigger than life to me as I was just a pup learning the ins and outs. I admired what he had built then, and his legacy is still alive today with the companies he built still thriving in the Twin Cities. My thoughts and prayers to Doug’s family and friends as well as everyone that worked with him at Brin. A tough loss for sure.
  • I’ll be shocked if this is the design in the end, but this look for the new Notre Dame rebuild is pretty fascinating.
  • As I am sure you know, GlassBuild registration is open, but also do not forget to book your hotel room. GlassBuild gets a great block of rooms at favorable rates, so book through the GlassBuild site to take advantage!
  • Last this week, a programming note: no blog post from me next week, unless of course some sort of major story breaks. Otherwise I’ll see you back in this space week of May 26.

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 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.

Monday, May 6, 2019

Gareth Francey headshotOr should that be, “A good employee is hard to keep”? I am pretty sure every employer in our industry has run into the same HR issue of trying to figure out where to find good talent and dealing with the inevitable question of how to keep these assets productive in their own company, and not in their competitors’ companies. Employees are indeed the backbone of every company and without them you have nothing. Yet investing in them is easier said than done, though the costs of recruiting, training and ramping up are becoming more expensive all the time.

So how do you keep valuable people in your company? Is it more money? Or the promise of growth potential and a bigger title? With the relative buoyancy of the glass industry these past years and with many solid glass companies growing significantly in size over a short time-frame, quality employees have been able to leap-frog up in salary and position with amazing ease. There is a high demand for high-quality people out there and employers are willing to pay the premium at the moment—or at least pass these costs on down the line. I am just not sure this trend can continue though.

Generational shift

From a cross-generational perspective, my company recently hired a few bright millennials from outside the industry a year or so ago and I was pretty interested to see how they viewed their future after a couple months on the job. It seems that this generation needs to have their career paths mapped out in front of them in advance, in relative detail as well, and the expectation of success and growth is a pre-requisite in maintaining their employment. I think these days the pressure is now on the employer to live up to promises made and to not “bait-and-switch” just to fill the HR gap at the time. This approach is definitely a lot different compared to 18 years ago when I started in the glass industry where everyone seemed to be just happy to get a start and didn’t ask that many questions up front.

Embracing tech in the workplace

I hear from glass fabricators and glaziers these days that its really challenging to find young folks to start in the industry and stick around. Working with glass is tough and many newcomers just don’t last in the high-pressure work environment. Take the glass plant for example; employees have to off-load the tempering line in hot temperatures, wearing Kevlar sweaters with 4-inch collars for their safety. In a matter of weeks, some of these same employees quit to drive for Uber, or another, more comfortable job.  

Fortunately, smart opportunists are coming up with tech solutions for these daily problems all the time, and smart employers are taking advantage of them. In this example, I now see a trend from personal protective equipment suppliers who are coming out with high performance cut-protection athletic clothing which now actually cools down the employee wearing it.

Likewise, companies are using technology to support remote access for project managers that have to manage high-pressure, complex glazing projects; these managers can manage multiple jobs from their home offices or from various locations via VPNs and webcams in a way that is highly accurate, flexible to their lifestyle and on their own schedule that totally beats sitting in traffic all day getting to the jobsite.

Training employees

 Programs such as www.myglassclass.com are also really excellent in providing newcomers the basic skillsets to ground themselves in glass and begin to start figuring things out. I highly recommend these web-based education platforms that are able to be used easily by employees on their own time, building their confidence and giving them the knowledge to be competent.

To conclude, retaining good employees these days has to be considered an ongoing process that starts at the top of the organization and works its way down. The two main ingredients to somewhat ensure this stability is to provide tools and systems that allow employees to be productive and efficient, and to provide a healthy and positive company culture that fosters growth. If you find it a challenging to retain your most valued assets, maybe you should check your recipe. Adding more money is seldom the fix.

Gareth Francey is the president of Bohle America, a supplier of glazing & handling tools, hardware, consumables, and machinery, for all levels of the glass industry. Francey has been with the Bohle organization since 2001 and led the American division since 2010. Contact him at gareth.francey@bohle-america.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.

Monday, May 6, 2019

Last week I briefly touched on the story from New York City and the Mayor’s comments on glass and glazing. Since then it’s been a very interesting ride to follow the various stories and reaction to it. First, as the news got some legs, folks from the Mayor’s office tried to soften it some with some much-needed clarifications on what he meant. Then, we got some excellent takes on the issue from Glass Magazine editor Katy Devlin, View’s Rao Mulpuri, and my old pal Dr. Helen Sanders of Technoform.

But even with the smart comments coming in, the initial damage was done. The narrative that stuck was that a “ban” on glass was needed because glass is bad. So here we go again. I even chuckled when I received two emails back to back, one with the headline "Did NYC's Mayor Really Announce a Ban on Glass Buildings?" while the other included the headline, "NYC plans to ban glass skyscrapers". 

So, it is now back to us to be better at how we communicate our products and how our industry represents ourselves. This is an opportunity for us. We all know that we have great products that can meet and exceed the energy needs and provide benefits that brick and other products do not. We can rise to the challenge and show we are not the problem here, and actually bring positive solutions with us. Older buildings that desperately need energy upgrades everywhere are where this effort should start. Glass needs to be the driver and the solution. Let’s go get it.

Elsewhere…

  • I missed noting the annual “Take Your Child to Work” day on last week’s post. It was really cool to see so many companies in our industry showing off what they did on social media. When you think about the whole “ban” issue and also the fact we need youth in this business, it’s really important to get kids interested in our world sooner than later. So big props to everyone who brought their kids in and to all the companies who pushed and supported it!
  • Has everyone seen “Avengers: End Game” yet? Super movie. Don’t worry, I won’t spoil it, but I do want to say I loved the glass usage in the movie, and I got a kick out of some of the breakage too. It looked like in some scenes the glass broke more like annealed. While others will go see that movie again to experience it another time, I’ll go back to study break patterns…
  • Travel nugget: I swear I have a Joe DiMaggio-like streak of picking the wrong security line at airports. I have the awesome TSA pre-check, but once you get through that and have to pick a line … I think I am 0 for my last 30 on choosing the faster one.  If you see me at that part of the airport go opposite of my choice!
  • Last this week: the glass industry someday could be known as the place that spawned the next awesome social media network! Check out this great article on Jeff Meyer of White Bear Glass as he and his family and partners have launched a new social and file sharing site called “The Horn.”

    This thing has incredible potential and the key is privacy. While Facebook just decided that privacy is important, Jeff’s site is all over it. Wouldn’t it be awesome that a Minnesota company with a major connection to the glass industry makes inroads in the tech world of Silicon Valley? Combined with the top story, not only is the glass world great, but we also do social media better than anyone else too. Good luck Jeff!!

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 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.