Sales of higher and value-added products are increasing. Standard runs now combining enhanced security laminates, acoustic control and any number of solar reflective coatings.

That’s good for business as a glass processor. If you’re adding more value you can charge a higher price and make more money – but only on what leaves your factory gates.

Wastage erodes margin – and even more so when the value of individual units or product is higher. This makes the quality of your edgework key to everything else that follows, either in IGU or processed glass manufacture.

Mike Whitlam, Glass specialist, Promac Group, said: “The industry has seen a significant uplift in supply of added-value products. High performance soft-coatings and laminates – products which give you the room for margin but where you also pay a heavier price for wastage and product that doesn’t make it down the line or through quality control.

“Some loss is inevitable but keeping it to a minimum is key to margin – and that makes edgework more important than ever.”

The Art EM Vertical Edger has been developed by Forel as a highly affordable and infinitely flexible platform for edge processing of float and laminate glass including edge arrissing, rough edge grinding and edge polishing.

This makes it suitable for use with IGU, toughening or grinding and processing lines. Forel’s trademark vertical alignment of the Art EM making the process cleaner compared to horizontally aligned platforms.

“If you keep glass in the vertical throughout the manufacturing process, you take up less space and you reduce the risk of damage”, continues Mike. “These are key benefits in a production environment where space is always tight.

“This applies equally to edge work and washing, as it does to cutting. The Art EM is a much more affordable platform than other edgers, delivers a high degree of flexibility in its fit with tempering, IGU and processing lines – and ultimately delivers a better-quality product from balustrades through to IGUs.”

The Forel Art EM Vertical Edger uses a patented carriageway and suction cups to securely hold glass in place during vertically aligned working. These have the capacity to handle weights of up to 200kg/m reducing manual handling and the risk of roller damage and scratches to the glass.

It is, however, the Art EM’s ability to adjust and refine its operation to different applications, which according to Promac, makes it a stand-out platform.

Self-learning using on-board editor and CAD files the Art EM automatically checks glass for the correct alignment constantly monitoring and automatically adjusting the speed of the grinding tool to process product to ultra-fine tolerances.

“The automatic adjustment of speed of the grinding and polishing tool dependent on operation gives you an outstanding finish but also the flexibility to switch between operations without compromising on product and finish quality.

“If you’re edge-grinding a laminate you’re going to require a different set up to polishing. The Art EM adjusts for this automatically changing head speed to deliver a perfect finish”, Mike explains.

“You’re reducing wastage through better edge quality in toughening and processing of laminates.”

FACT BOX:  The Forel Art EM Automatic Vertical Edger at a glance

  • X3 processes: arris, grind and polish – different processes can be performed in alternating sequences across four sides
  • Use with IGU, toughening or grinding/processing lines
  • Reduced manual handling – glass is handled by carriageway and suction cups with capacity of up to 200kg/m firmly in place. Automatic suction cup drying system
  • Vertical alignment reduces mess and risk of scratching or roller damage to glass
  • High quality mono block build and patented operating head system which allows the glass to be fixed and supported close to the grinding tools minimising vibration – guarantees accuracy
  • Self-learning using on-board editor and CAD files. Glass automatically checked for correct alignment allowing processing to ultra-fine tolerances
  • Constant monitoring and automatic adjustment of grinding tool speed to optimise process.
  • Reduces reliance on labour and skill of operative
  • Lower cost – high degree of flexibility

It’s ability to edge grind laminate is cited by Promac as a key selling point, combining rapid cycle times with a high-quality finish.

“The growth that has been seen in processing of laminates has been massive in the past few years”, Mike continues.

“The demand from the commercial sector remains high but there has also been significant growth in demand from the residential market as glass is used in a wider range of architectural applications and regulation pushes developers and homeowners towards specification of laminates.

“This makes the Art EM’s ability to edge-grind laminates for squareness a real plus in IGU manufacture. In commercial applications in particular IGU’s are bigger, more expensive and more complex combinations of glass. You don’t want to have to remake them.

“Edge-ground product in commercial specification is increasingly a perquisite to market entry but from a practical perspective, it significantly reduces the risk of venting in any application and if you’re handling higher value and larger units, simply makes sense”, Mike says.

Suitable to run as part of an existing processing line, the Art EM can also be paired with the Forel Art EW washing machine. This has been designed to offer the same high degree of flexibility – and critically, is suitable for use with all glass types and coatings.

“It’s obviously not just laminates that are being used in higher volumes as the market shifts to added-value glass. Coatings and particularly soft-coats, are now a fundamental part of the product mix and having the flexibility to handle them is key”, Mike says.

“The ART EW gives you the flexibility to work with any coatings, adjusting automatically to guarantee finish quality.”

The ART EW does this by automatically measuring and then adjusting for glass thickness and the coating type applied. This means that brushes (up to eight depending on specification) make perfect contact with the glass. This includes automatic detection of soft-coats.

The washing cycle includes a pre-wash phase, to eliminate surface debris ahead of brushing to reduce contamination of bushes. The washing phases employs a combination of jet nozzles and brushes, which can be customised with soft-coat compatible options and then rinsing cycle.

The drying area features two variable angled blower knives, powered by a high-pressure fan positioned independently of the washer and encased in a noise attenuation cabinet. The blower is also equipped with an automatic shutoff valve that illuminates any visual drying defects.

FACT BOX:  The Forel Art EW Vertical Washing Machine

  • Ultra-solid structure supports high capacity weight per linear metre to guarantee precision
  • Automatic thickness measuring and soft coat detection at the feed-in point optimizing positioning of brushes and blowers
  • Scrub brushes operate independently of each other and are automatically managed according to glass type
  • Washing combines wash jet nozzles with 6 brushes as standard and 8 as option. Can be fitted with standard type bristles or customized with soft coat compatible options
  • Washing cycle – pre-wash; washing phase with combined jets and brushes; rinse phase
  • Stainless steel water collection tanks with built in filtration system
  • X2 variable angle blower knives powered by high performance fan
  • Controlled by easy-to-use touch-screen console

“The Forel Art EM and Art VW are designed to offer glass processors and IGU manufacturers a high degree of flexibility. This includes switching seamlessly between edge work and washing of different glass types and applications in a highly automated process”, says Mike.

“For what they do for the price-point – and I think a lot of people will be surprised by how competitively priced these platforms are – is exceptional.

“You’re getting exacting precision in edge work, improving outputs in toughening and reducing the risk of failure in laminates.

“Wastage is increasingly important from an economic and environmental perspective. Glass is becoming more technical and the positive is, that it can be sold for more.

“The other side of that coin is if you’re edge work isn’t up to scratch, you’re going to waste more stock and that costs.”