FIC UK’s Stuart Hakes won the Michael Garvey Award for best paper at last week’s Furnace Solutions conference.

Mr Hakes was presented with the award for his paper ‘Solutions to Practical Problems – affecting melting and the life of glass furnaces’.

During his presentation he warned that the glass furnaces sector was ‘sleepwalking into oblivion’ unless it embraced new thinking.

He said fuel efficiency had plateaued for 25 years and that evolution was too slow – the industry needed a revolution.

Compared to the west, China was the only country prepared to try and test fundamentally new ideas.

“China was a technology leader for 3000 years then it slept for a 100 years. Now, it has woken back up.

“If I go there with a crazy idea, the Chinese listen.”

Mr Hakes, who has worked in the glass industry for 51 years, said a step change in thinking was required.

One of his suggestions was to shorten the lifetime of a furnace from its current 15 to 18 years. Shorter furnace campaigns means a company can benefit from technology change.

A total of 93 people attended the event held in Lucideon, Stoke-on-Trent, UK, which included a training day before the conference.

Delegates were from a variety of furnace suppliers and glass manufacturers and included companies such as Horn Glass, Nikolaus Sorg, Parkinson Spencer Refractories, Drujba Glassworks and Ardagh Glass.

Michael Garvey was a former Guardian Glass engineer who tragically died in a climbing accident.

Neil Simpson of organiser Society of Glass Technology and conference chairman, said the quality of this year’s papers was particularly strong and that Mr Hakes had won the award by just ‘half a point’.

A review of the event will appear in a forthcoming edition of Glass International.