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ARE YOU READY FOR THE DIGITAL REVOLUTION?

Steve Martin, Head of the Glass Sector, Siemens UK & Ireland, says that glass manufacturers need to ready themselves as the digitalisation of industry gathers pace. Connected, flexible and intelligence-led technology solutions are set to drive marked manufacturing productivity and performance improvements, but the glass sector must embrace all that Industry 4.0 entails and take the first strategic steps on a digital journey that can underpin future success.

The ongoing intrigue, speculation and comment surrounding the impact of Industry 4.0 shows no sign of abating. As the descriptor for available digital technology solutions designed to optimise productivity in manufacturing, the anticipated digital revolution described by Industry 4.0 will be a new dawn for the so-called ‘factories of the future’.

In the words of Juergen Maier, Chief Executive, Siemens UK, such a step change will for example, “utilise vast data volumes to enable manufacturers to ultimately produce batch sizes of one - but at mass market prices - and allow for the customisation of all manner of consumer and industrial products to meet market demand, made possible by flexible, highly connected and intelligence-led manufacturing processes.”

Respected commentators are in no doubt as to the untapped potential of Industry 4.0. Professional services firm, Accenture said: “an industrial-scale version of Industry 4.0 could add $14.2 trillion to the world economy over the next 15 years, and the UK alone could benefit by up to $531 billion.” While the creation of pivotal industry events, such as the forthcoming and highly significant ‘Industry 4.0 Summit’ (Europe’s first dedicated exhibition for the 4th industrial revolution, to be held in Manchester in 2017) signifies another milestone on the digital journey that will see a fundamental change in the way manufacturing businesses operate in the future.

Communicating the cost benefits of power

Originally published in the Nov/Dec 2015 issue of Glass Worldwide, Ashley Taylor discusses the long-term challenge faced by cost approvers when investing in power control solutions.

Working for Eurotherm, I often find myself talking with technical experts; this is especially true when it comes to the glass team. In a recent discussion, my own experience as a cost approver, coupled with theirs, allowed us to clearly define the real benefits of the latest Eurotherm power solutions. This led to an interesting conversation on how customers are approached and how glass solutions are presented.

As Finance Director, I have a duty to ensure that working capital is utilised as effectively as possible, balancing short- and long-term profitability with capital investment. Factor into that operational risk and uncertainty and the equation can become quite complex. 

Counterparts in other industries have the same responsibility. The issues to consider become even more critical when investment is needed in a capital asset lasting 15-20 years, such as a typical glass furnace where, because of the timeframes, the number of ‘unknowns’ increases even more. 

Looking at glass melting from a different perspective

Originally published in the May/June 2015 issue of Glass Worldwide, René Meuleman discusses the potential for creating a completely different approach to glass melting:

When I looked into the mirror this morning, after suffering badly from flu I said to myself “You are really getting old mate”. My wife picked up on that and answered “You had better do so”. That is what I call, looking from a different perspective. Over the last 38 years I have witnessed and contributed perhaps a tiny bit on trying to extend furnace lifecycles. Even in this relatively short period I would say that time in between repairs has almost doubled. A great achievement of course, and I suppose nobody disagrees with that. However, does long furnace life time really still make sense? And does making furnaces larger and larger, still makes sense? I have voiced my opinion on this subject before, but potentially, increasing pull rates by in fact pushing the furnace to its limits, and accepting the negative side effects such as shorter life time, really is starting to make sense.

G Clinton Shay’s presentation

Originally published in the November/December issue of Glass Worldwide, this article covers G Clinton Shay’s presentation with the 44th Phoenix Award at a gala dinner in Virginia, USA last October. Mr Shay is co-inventor of the ‘fusion flat glass’ manufacturing process.

A revolutionary method to produce thin, strong glass that is now used widely throughout the world in such industries as consumer electronics and telecommunications, the fusion process stemmed from a research programme initiated at Corning in 1958. Having realised limited success in vehicle windscreens and lenses for sunglasses during the 1960s and 1970s respectively, it was the growing popularity of LCD televisions at the turn of the century that enabled the process to realise its potential, as well as contributing to the continuing success of Corning.

Today, the fusion process is used in the production of Corning’s patented Gorilla glass, which was originally introduced to help protect consumer electronics from the scratches and bumps to which they are subjected in everyday use. Gorilla has been designed into more than 2450 product models and is used in 2.7 billion devices, including smart phones, laptops and tablets etc.

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