Volume 36, Number 3, March 2001


Hot, Hot, Hot!

Exploring the Glass Industry’s Burning Issues

by Max Perilstein

Following are my thoughts on some of the hot issues on people’s minds, as evidenced by the mess on my desk.

Thermal Stress
What is thermal stress anyway? Most folks outside the industry would think it’s the latest sale item from Old Navy. (No, that’s Performance Fleece.) However, for those of us in the trenches, thermal stress is a hot issue. Here’s an example of a mistake, one way or another, waiting to happen. Dark blue reflective is the product. If you plan on having the reflective on the number one surface then it’s okay to be made annealed. But if the reflective were on the number two surface then the outboard lite would have to be heat-treated. How many architects would know this? How many jobs would get ordered and processed the wrong way? This is what the stress in thermal stress means.

There is so much to learn and so many possible scenarios. Some manufacturers have better information than others. One uses traffic lights in its printed material to warn you (with a red light) if there may be a problem. One has a set-up on its website so you can test all the different combinations. Most, though, just leave it to the fine print, not wanting to enter the fray of the sacred fabricator/contract glazier relationship. There is more to this issue than the color of glass. Frame color, overhang, locale and cleanness of the edges play a role as well. Hopefully in 2001 some strides can be made to make sure everyone is on the same page as it pertains to this stressful situation.

Ceramic Frit vs. OPACI-COAT 300
Welcome to the battle royal of spandrel. Ceramic frit is still considered the gold standard of spandrel. It is the most common, and most contract glaziers and fabricators are comfortable with it. OPACI-COAT 300 has come a long way to gain acceptance from the masses. Aggressive campaigns by fabricators to promote its uses and flexibility have set the product on a very solid course. But the upstart spandrel still has an uphill climb. Recent articles in the industry have left some doubt in its abilities. However, I’ve used it for the past eight years and have no problems whatsoever. Once again both of these are solid products, but our industry lags behind in providing education about them.

Fuel Surcharge
Yikes, just typing it makes me feel like the target on my back is growing. If there’s ever a hot-button issue—this is it. Enacted by the manufacturers in the fall of 2000 this economic condition charge has had opinions raging and some voices rising. So here goes mine.
It is necessary. Energy in this country is more expensive than ever. The glass manufacturers depend on natural gas to run their plants. A great statistic that drives the point home is this: one float plant burns enough fuel in one hour to heat 14,400 average homes for one year per furnace. That’s all in ONE HOUR! Other supplies that go into making glass are facing the same crunch, and because some of those supplies are rare there’s not a lot of competition.

That said, I still can see why there is so much negative sentiment. Why not? Prices for a glazing contractor in 2001 are virtually similar to what they paid in 1954. What makes this action standout is that this is an increase in cost that is not negotiable, not covered by some long-term contract and unilateral. It is truly something that we are not used to in this industry. Lastly, frustration abounds because of the inconsistent nature of the way the fabricator is passing on the costs. It seems like everyone is doing something

Obviously this is one battle that will continue on for many months to come.

wpe2.jpg (2313 bytes) Max Perilstein is vice president/general manager of PDC Glass of Michigan. His column appears bimonthly.


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