Last week’s Glasstec trade show included a total of 936 exhibitor companies which were focused on all aspects of glass production.
Glass International spoke to exhibitors at the event for their thoughts on the show as well as common talking points among the 30,000 visitors in attendance.
Simon Parkinson, Managing Director of Parkinson-Spencer Refractories (PSR) reported a good show: “Although overall footfall may have been lower than in previous years, the quality of visitors to the exhibition and to our stand was very good with a large number of constructive meetings held with our customers and partners.
“Above all it was fantastic to be back at a large event with the glass community and to see our friends and colleagues after four long years.”
The UK-based group showcased developments it had been working on over the past four years. These included new refractory materials, PSR-930 and PSR-925, which provide improved operating life for feeder expendables.
Although the effects of the global economic and energy crises were regular topics of conversation, the overriding theme of the exhibition was largely positive, Mr Parkinson said, with expansion projects planned around the globe.
Joe Tarulli, General Manager-Glass, Pyrotek, reported more than 200 visitors to its booth. While the majority were from Europe, he reported guests from all regions of the globe.
“Besides customers, Glasstec is always a good opportunity to meet face-to-face with key suppliers and partners. I have no doubt the show was a worthwhile investment for Pyrotek.”
The company was highlighting two product groups in particular - expendable refractories and STS ware handling parts for the container market.
He added most people they spoke to were cautiously optimistic, despite current global economic uncertainties.
“Rather than concern about the future, our customers are focused on operational improvements and cost saving initiatives for their plants, both of which are Pyrotek strengths.”
Barbara Antonini, CEO of Antonini, also reported a good show, with many visitors who, despite the global situation, were all talking about future projects.
The company is focused on reducing gas and energy consumption, she said.
“We have application for our old lehrs to make them get a lower consumption, we have updated our burner for new machines, so that we guarantee a lower consumption, we are producing a dual heating (electric and gas lehr), we are almost ready to launch our IE5 motors.”
Common talking points with visitors were difficulty in deliveries of some raw materials, huge costs of transportation of goods, energy cost and energy saving as well as future technologies in making hollow glass.
Mikael Le Guern, Global Key Account Manager-Glass at Eurotherm by Schneider Electric, said the quality of the visitors to its booth had been high.
“People have been coming to us for a purpose, with quite a few prospective new projects coming up.”
There had been a focus on decarbonisation within the industry in recent years and ways to reduce CO2 emissions. One of these ways has been the partial or complete electrification of a plant.
“We see a lot of upcoming projects to increase the electrical boosting, the share of electricity, in the glass furnaces.
“It's this movement towards decarbonisation and electrification. It's definitely something that we've been talking about for many years, but we've seen this trend accelerating or really starting two years ago.
"Now the sheer number of prospective projects is dramatically increasing.
"So, we hear very often about partial electrifications or there are few projects already of complete electrifications of glass furnaces.
"We think in the next few years it's going to be really, really interesting for the kind of business that we have to offer.”
While the current energy crisis has thrown a wrench in the works, Mr Le Guern believes the long-term goals of the industry will remain the same.
Frederic Nio, Managing Director of Novaxion, described the show as ‘amazing’.
“We met a lot of the clients and customers - we found people that we haven’t seen for two, three, four years, so it was great.”
The group was highlighting its innovations over the past few years, which included its latest software for IS machines, as well as the new design of its swabbing robots, which the group has developed over the past two years.
Mr Nio said the company’s next steps are to integrate AI into its robots.
Nicolas Trentin, Marketing Manager at BDF Industries, said the company had focused on two main topics: performance and energy saving.
It presented a hybrid section of an IS Machine and a fully electric Servo Baffle and Servo Blowhead Mechanism.
Mr Trentin said: “We’re working hard on this topic, not only to achieve a green economy model but also in terms of supervising software in order to increase machines’ performances.
"Such a software is Panorama, a software able to give us in real time the status and the management both of the furnace and the IS Machine. These devices give us information about the consumptions, performances, and working conditions of machines.”