Settle in folks, this is going to be a longer than usual blog… Lots to cover!
Last week was my 3rd glasstec and by far it was the most impressive and intense. It is amazing how much has changed in 4 years. The biggest takeaway from the event for me was automation for our fabrication plants is truly here and ready. The advancement in this area was striking and I am not just talking about the robots or the automated forklifts themselves but the technology and intuitiveness behind them. With virtually every piece of automated equipment I saw, it came with a back end intelligence plan that keeps the user alerted on everything from its production performance to its health. For me being old school, and I know many others had this thought too, the fear was if you automate too much and equipment goes down you are in trouble. But the back end intelligence is a huge guard against that worry and the detail it provides is nothing short of amazing. I was able to see the way it worked with Fenetech at the Bystronic booth and at Grenzebach and I simply was blown away at the visibility these machines and software provide. (Many others had it too; I just did not get to see them like I did these) The future is here with regards to plant automation and when you add in the advancements in the machinery itself, this really bodes well for our industry. Higher quality end products are something we all strive for and it’s nice to see the efforts there on all levels to get us further on this path. My other takeaways include…
n There is positivity about the economics of our industry with regards to the forecast, but there’s no doubt the worry about a slowing up is there and something to continue to monitor.
n Railing and Balustrade options, I have never seen so many styles and choices. I knew this was a busy business segment, but was not aware how much it was globally.
n Go Big or Go Home... 2 years ago the theme here was jumbo and oversize, and this year it just continued it by showing large glass in different fabrication styles including amazing bent, decorative, etched, painted, and laminated. We may only be touching the surface in North America with oversize but there is no doubt the rest of the world is in full speed ahead mode.
n Vacuum Insulating Glass appeared in more stands than I have ever seen before and the push to grow its commercial footprint is significant.
n Dynamic… the advancements continued. Sage had a very impressive stand and gamebreaking product release in Harmony. Relative newcomer Halio was in the courtyard of the halls showing faster transition time and a product that could be easily used inside, and Pleotint/Suntuitive had its product all over the floor thanks to several international partners pushing it and showing the way a thermochromic approach can work. Eyrise was also a new one to me and they had an incredible setup in the Glass Technology Live area showing a skylight in action with their product.
n Meanwhile on the smart glass side, (glass that transitions from a clear state to opaque) I am estimating maybe 25 companies (probably more) were showing one form of a switchable interior glass or rear projection material. I know there are a lot of folks who do that product, and I think most were on the floor at glasstec.
n Safety gear/clothing is about to go into a next amazing level- lightweight and safe, it’s going to be something the folks in our plants and jobsites will go crazy for.
n The technology area was the best I have ever seen with interesting concepts. This is similar to the auto shows in the US that may show futuristic visions of vehicles, and this year at glasstec we had that with glass. Craziest one for me was a solar piece that used algae in it to generate electricity. But other items in this area included great advancements on structural glazing, curtain wall material, thin glass usage, laminated stacking, and hardware.
To see a lot of what I mentioned, check out the twitter feeds of Glass Magazine and Glass Nation, along with coverage from GlassMagazine.com. They’ll be videos up as well including my video of the week. And if anyone is curious on anything specific, please reach out to me, glad to chat with you about it.
-- As for my personal touches that I do after every event…. I’ll start with the setup and team from Guardian Glass. They had an marvelous stand that showed a wide range of products and innovation- both in concept and also ready to go. Of course the team there could not be any nicer to me. Getting to see the one, the only, the great Amy Hennes is easily the highlight- she is always going to full speed, so the fact I get a couple seconds with her is an honor. I love talking with Chris Dolan, we’ve been through a few of these now and it’s always great to hear his insights and opinions. Folks like Matt Hill (who I have seen a bunch in my life but never in the US for some reason) Joe Butler, Samer Abughazaleh, and Sarah Wansack are incredibly classy and cool. Thank you all for the amazing hospitality you always show me.
-- At every glasstec I have gotten to visit with Bernard and Linda Lax from Pulp Studios and it’s nothing short of awesome. Plus this year old pal Kirk Johnson was with them, and that made it even better. Also seemingly a glasstec visit tradition is seeing Thomas Martini of Vitrum and his talented crew. Tara Brummet was at the show for the first time and it was great to chat with her on her experiences, and seeing Adam Byrne and Tyler Boult from there again was enjoyable. I spent some time in the very innovative SCHOTT booth and got to see Rob Botman and Jordan Richards from Glassopolis while there and catch up with Dan Poling as well. Such cool folks and I’m humbled to get to spend time with them. Speaking of SCHOTT they win the “great call by the marketing head” award as they were told their dress for the show would include jeans and tennis shoes. Folks there is basically no carpet anywhere in the halls at glasstec and the show runs from 9 to 6 daily. Dressing your team casual/comfortable was the call of the year!
-- The Tristar Glass team was there and I will never pass a chance to talk with Greg Oehlers. I also met his fabulous wife as well. Greg is an industry great and with more knowledge about glass in his pinky than I’ll ever have the rest of my life. My friend Mike Synon of HHH was there and smiling despite his beloved Brewers not making the World Series- probably for the best that he missed game 7 of their series with LA while flying to the show. I just stepped back and watched Max Hals and Ian Patlin of Paragon Architectural work a portion of the floor and was in awe. Those two guys know everyone- they don’t need an exhibit, it’s like everyone came to them.
-- Wrapping up, I enjoyed seeing Mark Seaton and Glenn Davis from Vitro, but I think it was obvious (as it should be) that they would’ve preferred to see my brother Steve vs. me. (Most would- that is the better choice) Still was nice to see them and also see Ricardo Maiz for the first time in several years. Great man he is. I did not get to see Michael Spellman like I usually do and that was too bad. But I know he had several properties only the floor that IGE partners with so I think every time I went to Forvet to see him he was at Landglass or Tecglass etc. But I did see Manny Borda from IGE and that’s always an absolute pleasure.
So there you go- I probably missed a bunch and if so I’ll hit it on my next post. Overall though it was a positive experience, and I sincerely hope to make it back in 2020.
LINKS of the WEEK
150 margaritas in 3 days and still living. Wow.
Towing your boat with the your scooter? Huh?
This is surely a wild story. Wow.
VIDEO of the WEEK
So at the show as I was trying to wrap up I happened upon the team that built this amazing all glass teetor totter… and they were giving it a try… and I could not walk away, so I got it on video… (click link below to take you there)