Volume 35, Number 1, January 2000

The success of Vitrum ’99, Milan’s premiere machinery event, proved that being number two isn’t such a bad place to be.

by Tara Taffera

wpe1C.jpg (150222 bytes)It’s an accepted fact by many—glasstec is the biggest exhibition in the glass industry; Vitrum is the second. But, in terms of success it looks like Vitrum is close on glasstec’s heels, at least for this last go-round. Just listen to what some exhibitors had to say about Vitrum ’99, which was held from November 3-6 in Milan, Italy.

“We’ve made a lot of deals,” said Anne Riekkola of Finland’s Tamglass. “It’s a surprise because the European market has been slow. But so far, Vitrum has been as successful as glasstec.”

Manfred Lesiak of Austria’s Lisec, echoes this sentiment saying, “This is absolutely the best Vitrum show ever … We’ve been selling machines like hot cakes—especially against Italian companies,” he said.

And, exhibitors weren’t the only ones making comparisons between Vitrum (held in odd years) and glasstec (held in even years in Dusseldorf, Germany). “The fact that we have more visitors than two years ago confirms the fact that Vitrum is the second largest trade fair in the world,” said Dino Fenzi, Vitrum president, in an opening press conference. He quickly added, “ … And, we’re very proud to be second.”

Fenzi said being number two has its advantages. “When trade fairs are too large, there is no time for attendees to visit all the exhibitors, or for exhibitors to devote time to attendees.” While this may have been a slight jab at glasstec, Fenzi said, “We have no competition with them (glasstec).” In fact, Fenzi said there is a reason glasstec and Vitrum are held in different years. “We couldn’t do without Dusseldorf and they couldn’t do without us [in the off year].”

While glasstec is roughly three times larger than Vitrum, attendance of Vitrum ’99 was up 12 percent from 1997. A total of 16,072 visitors attended the Italian event. More than 10,000 attendees were from Italy and more than 6,000 from 89 other countries. In comparison, the 1998 glasstec show reported a slight drop in visitors.

Vitrum’s 385 exhibiting companies came from 23 countries and encompassed 42,370 square meters of space. They unveiled their products on a net display area of 22,028 square meters—a 23 percent increase from 1997.

While Vitrum is largely a European show, there were 18 U.S. exhibitors in attendance and 539 attendees—a more than ten percent increase from 1997. Regarding attendance, the fact that seemed to be noticed most by exhibitors was the high number of attendees from the Middle and Far East and the low number of attendees from the United States.

“There were not many American customers,” said Riekkola. Software company Albat & Wirsam of Germany agreed. A company representative said, “I’ve seen no Americans here. Not even one.”


Competing Event

One theory for the absence of U.S. exhibitors is the fact that interGlassmetal/ Fenestration world (iGm) was held simultaneously in Atlanta, GA. “My main customer can’t be here because he is in Atlanta,” said Yves Ruedy of France’s SFDD. “That [simultaneous scheduling of iGm and Vitrum] was a great, great mistake.”

Some larger companies, including Tamglass and Lisec, had a presence at both Vitrum and iGm. “We also have a booth at iGm,” said Riekkola. “We can do that, but many smaller companies may not have the money or staff to have people at both shows.”

U.S. companies aren’t the only ones who seem to be suffering from exhibit-overload. “There are too many shows in Europe,” said Stefano Frigerio, area manager for Prosytec Italia srl/TREMCO. Following Vitrum, the TREMCO booth was being shipped directly to Paris for BATIMAT, a European show focusing on the building materials industry. Other exhibitors said they were attending BATIMAT as well. Frigerio is so frustrated that he said, “There should be one show for all of Europe.”


Italian Superiority

While some exhibitors may have wanted to see more U.S. attendees at the show, this didn’t detract from Vitrum’s success, or take Italian exhibitors out of the limelight.

While glasstec is commonly-known as the “greatest machinery show on earth,” the Italian machinery makers may be regarded as the “greatest machinery makers on earth.” In fact, Annibale Besana, president of GIMAV, is so confident of the superiority of Italian products that he issued a challenge to the press. “Pay attention to Italian exhibitors,” he said. “Compare the production capacity of their machines to other machines. You will see that the Italian industry has become a leader—a real leader.”

But, whether the greatest machines are offered by the Germans, Italians or another group, Besana said one thing is certain. “Here at Vitrum you will find the greatest machines in the world.”

New Products

Italian manufacturer, Z. Bavelloni, introduced some of these great machines. In fact, the company unveiled more than ten new products at the show, which included a multi-functional CNC machine, loading and unloading system, edging machines, cutting tables and washing machines. “Vitrum was the goal for us to bring out these new products,” said company representative Simona Bavelloni. “Now, we are selling them at the show.” Z. Bavelloni conducted product demonstrations throughout the four days and the company’s exhibit space was always full of attentive onlookers.

Not far away from Z. Bavelloni’s exhibit space was Bystronic Lenhardt of Germany. In fact, the expansive exhibit space occupied by the two companies almost dominated the first pavilion.

Bystronic presented the XYZ F 98 LR shape cutting machine with edge-deleting unit designed for small and medium production capacities. It also introduced an IG production line with a single-head CNC-sealing robot for four-sided stepped, gas filling IG units. According to the company, the line allows the continuous production of rectangular and shaped formats as well as double and triple IG units according to data input.

Janbac-Baudin Group of France introduced a new double-edge grinder for the fast grinding of glass edges. According to Frank Bachman, general manager, the product offers time savings for adjustments, productivity savings and reduced cost of diamond wheels. But, one of the greatest advantages of the grinder is its speed—20 meters per minute. “This is the fastest machine of any machine here—and probably anywhere in the world,” said Bachman.

Italian manufacturer Bovone introduced a number of new edging machines for Vitrum—some finished just 15-20 days prior to the show’s opening. One of these, the Edgexpress 24 FP 3000, is an automatic edger for flat edge and seams. The machine has a minimum processable glass size of 160- by 160-mm and a maximum glass size of 3,000- by 3,000-mm.

Ianua S.p.A. of Italy also introduced a variety of machinery offerings, but the highlight was its new patented horizontal tempering machine with the combined effect of convection and irradiation. According to the company, the machine offers a variety of features including distortion-free glass, perfect straightness, short heating time, increased capacity, high yield, easy handling and minimized energy consumption.

Attendees interested in beveling machines may have been impressed by the Wave 2000, a wave and straight beveling machine introduced by Korea’s Samtech. According to the company, the product utilizes the world’s first elastic wheel. Additionally, the Wave 2000 offers various combinations of straight-line and wave beveling: double angle, triple angle and phase difference. Samtech believes the product is so unique that it touts the product as “the greatest technological innovation in the one hundred year history of the beveling industry.”

Vitrum attendees could not miss the expansive space utilized by Italy’s Intermac Group. While numerous products were showcased, the company was promoting one product that is so new it is not yet in production. The machine, SLANT 1600, is a five-axes work center for automatic cycle machining operations such as straight beveling, edging and polishing. The SLANT 1600 includes an eight-position tool changer and is designed to edge and bevel glass and mirror with a glass thickness of 3- to 12-mm. The product will begin production in the first quarter of 2000.

The company also introduced Winner Glass, an automatic loading and unloading machine. The system works at up to 15 cycles per minute, allowing for very high production rates. “This is much quicker than the competitors,” said Troy Roseboom, U.S. sales rep for Intermac. “From what we’ve seen here at the show, this is the fastest machine on the market.”

Intermac wasn’t the only exhibitor to unveil a new loading and unloading machine; it was joined by Italian manufacturer, Kera Glass. According to company representative Dottie Massimo, the machine is completely automatic, loads large sheets, adjusts to an existing structure, is capable of high-rate production and is specifically designed for each customer. Massimo said there was a great deal of interest in the product from attendees who were able to see the machine up-close.

In fact, Lesiak said this is the greatest advantage for attendees—to closely look at products and compare them to the competition. Lisec displayed a host of machines at Vitrum including those for IG production, spacer bending and glass cutting. But Lesiak said the highlight was the laminating cutting machine, which was recently improved in terms of speed. “Now, it’s so fast, people are shaking their heads and not believing it,” said Lesiak. “This proves my thinking that when people see machines side-by-side-they know ours is superior.”


While Italy’s FOR.EL S.p.A. had a number of its machines on-hand, one of its newest ventures is not a machine. FOR.EL introduced its new division, FOR.EL BASE, which will ensure that customers needs are met, “everywhere and at any time.” “This new organization is dedicated to installation, commissioning and after sales service, so the customer has a direct line with his partner,” said FOR.EL’s Ginanni Geromel.

Finland’s Uniglass was pleased to tell Vitrum attendees about its tempering furnaces, but was as equally thrilled to announce a record-order book of $7 million dollars in November. According to the company, sales have grown strongly worldwide and in the new European home market with new territories including Italy. Uniglass predicts to exceed $10 million dollars in 2000.

U.S. based Glasstech was another Vitrum newsmaker. While the company promoted its Forced Convection Flat Glass Tempering System, it announced the first installation of the system in the United Kingdom. According to the company, the technology enables super low-E coated glass and the complete generation of energy-efficient glazing to be tempered at the same rate as clear float glass.

Vitrum will return to the Milan Fairgrounds October 3-6, 2001.


Copyright 2000 Key Communications, Inc. All rights reserved. No reproduction of any type without expressed written permission.