Volume 12, Issue 5 - June 2011


Disappearing Act
IG Units That Are Never Seen Again
by Mike Burk

Anyone who grew up or traveled through the northwest part of Ohio before 1990 will remember roadside signs for the Blue Hole in Castalia, Ohio. The Blue Hole is a freshwater pond formed by underground streams in the limestone terrain. For more than half a century tourists from all over the world visited and gazed into “bottomless” clear blue water. Legends from the 1800s tell of a farmer and team of horses that fell into the sparkling water and disappeared.

Today we hear about black holes in space, theoretical celestial objects formed when massive stars collapse. These large gravitational fields are so intense that not even light can escape.

You may be unaware, but most likely there is another mysterious void very near you. This is a place where objects unexpectedly and permanently vanish. It’s often referred to as the glazing department.

Stuck in Glazing Limbo
Do you wonder why so many insulating glass (IG) units never make it beyond the glazing department? Have you come to regard remakes as a necessary part of doing business? Have you learned to accept the reasons given for required remakes as real? Do the words “broken while glazing” even cause you a moment’s thought? Would you question the meaning of a remake request that read “broken while hanging out” or simply re-enter the order? How many IG units have simply disappeared, lost in rows of racks, carts and “A” frames?

Do you know what the remakes are costing your company? I have heard reports of daily remakes routinely exceeding 10 percent of the daily production. The latest record for the number of times an IG unit has been remade stands at 15. Maybe you know someone who has remade an IG unit more times.

Take no one’s word for the cause of a remake. Check for yourself. If the unit was broken while glazing, go and inspect the remains. Institute a policy that requires that a defective unit be inspected before it is placed in the dumpster. Determine and record the reason a unit is unusable or determine why it “broke.” Next, take the necessary steps in the glass department to correct and improve the process.

"I have heard reports of daily remakes routinely exceeding 10 percent of the daily production."

Look Beyond the Obvious
Inspect more than just the standard quality requirements, such as height, overall unit thickness and grid alignment. Measure the diagonals to ensure the units are square. Inspect the quality of the edges for chips, wings, serration hackle and bevels or flares that might cause the glass to fracture as the unit is glazed. Ensure that excess sealant does not extend beyond the edge of the glass.

There are multiple glass coatings available today that can be oriented on a variety of glass surfaces. Insulating units with multiple air spaces offer even more coating location options. Extra steps must be taken to ensure that the insulating glass unit is manufactured with the coatings configured as specified. Units must be clearly labeled to ensure that coated glass surfaces are orientated correctly when the unit is glazed.

The remake code “broken while hanging out” was real and referred to a unit that was too large for the IG unit cart on which it was stored. The unit was destroyed because it hung out beyond the base of the cart and broke during transit. Inspect all equipment that is used to store and transport finished IG units. Cover all exposed metal surfaces that could contact the glass causing edge damage. Look for any worn or broken components that might cause damage to the IG units.

Above all, make sure that the handing equipment is safe. Ensure that the wheels and brakes operate easily and smoothly. Label the equipment with information regarding the maximum quantity, maximum weight or largest sized unit that the equipment is designed to store or transport. Inspect tie-downs, straps or any mechanisms designed to support the glass. Tag and remove all defective equipment from service.

Always remember, some things are not as they seem. The “bottomless” Blue Hole that “divers could never reach” is really less than 45 feet deep. Investigate every remake request and determine the real cause. Work to build quality IG units—only once.

Mike Burk serves as manager, workplace learning and performance for Edgetech I.G. His opinions are solely his own and do not necessarily reflect those of this magazine


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