Volume 36, Issue 11, November 2001

The Whole World is Watching: 
          Glass Processing Days Proves a Great Success
by Debra Levy

Tamglass makes both machines for glass processing and glass at its plant in Tampere, including the bus windshield above.

Jorma Vitkala is the Cecil B. DeMille of the glass industry. Given an educational story line, he created a scholarly event of epic proportions and cloaked it in memorable Finnish hospitality. Then he gave his audience an experience they’d never forget. 

The production under Vitkala’s tutelage is known as Glass Processing Days (GPD), a four-day educational and social event that was held June 18-21 in Tampere, Finland. The biennial event, sponsored by hometown company Tamglass Ltd. Oy, where Vitkala serves as chairman of the organizing committee of the show, attracted approximately 800 visitors from 60 countries to four days of 
speeches, presentations and networking opportunities.

The international glass machinery manufacturer developed the conference as a venue to showcase new technology, including its own, along with providing an arena for discussions about improvement in glass manufacturing and fabrication processes. GPD is a unique event in the industry both for the depth of information exchange and the width of the topics discussed. It is one of the few places where plant engineers from a number of countries can share common problems and exchange solutions in one corner while designers discuss bending radii in another.

The 2001 GPD began with an opening session and keynote address by Paolo Scaroni, group chief executive of Pilkington plc, who discussed his company’s advancements in coated glass, including its new self-cleaning glass (see related stories, July 2001 USGlass, page 24 and September 2001 USGlass, page 58). He also talked about some of the threats the industry faces in the future. “Consumption of float glass is not growing as it should be,” Scaroni said. “We are near the saturation point—at very low pricing in the industry.” He echoed the sentiments of many other manufacturers when he said that the industry still uses commodity pricing on many products, coatings will be the value-added product of choice in years ahead. “Coated glass is the future,” he said. “The use of coated glass is doubling every five years. There is no way to achieve the Kyoto protocol if buildings do not use energy-efficient glass. Germany and a number of other countries have energy legislation. The market will grow as a consequence.”

lunch TamglassCEO GDPChairman
Glass Processing Days included a number of opportunities, such as lunches above left, for attendees to discuss common problems and to socialize. Middle: Tamglass CEO Pentti Ylineljo and his wife share a moment with Mr. Hasselbach of Interpane. Right: GPD chairman Jorma Vitkala introduces native entertainment.

Scaroni also discussed emerging e-commerce technology, mentioning that his company does approximately 40 percent of its e-commerce through Electronic Data Interchange and 10 percent through the World Wide Web. “In glass, we do not believe that e-commerce will play a major role,” he said, while allowing that Pilkington is doing more and more through e-commerce all the time.

Penti Ylineljo, president and chief executive officer of both Tamglass and its parent company, the Kyro Corp., also welcomed the group. He discussed the growing use of safety glass around the world. “More than one-half of the world’s safety glass is produced by Tamglass machinery,” he said. “We are trying to make sure that every piece of glass made is made into safety glass.”

Michael Robinson, outgoing design director for Fiat Auto S.p.A., gave an enlightening speech about how automakers design with glass and the type of products they’d like to have. “There is an instant clash between what we [auto designers] want and what we get. Glass is the single largest interface between the occupants and the outside world, yet we are still very limited in what we can do with it,” he said.

Robinson was followed by Steve Selkowitz of LBL Labs who spoke on increasing energy efficiency in buildings and some of the new glazing systems, and Rainer Mahlamaki, a professor of architecture at Oulu University of Technology, who spoke about uses of glass in architecture.

Tamglass also honored two attendees with its GPD awards. Brian Waldron of Pilkington was honored for his work toward standardization of the architectural glass industry and Giovanni Manfre was recognized for his inspired solutions to many auto glass design problems. The day ended with a welcoming party at the Hame Museum in the center of town.

Sessions continued Tuesday through Thursday on more than 100 topics across the full spectrum of glass-processing issues. Among the most popular sessions were those about roller wave distortion, also a very hot topic in the States. In a packed room, the exchange became heated at times as the industry grappled with ways to avoid and identify such defects. There was also a good bit of excitement generated around discussions of tempering laser-cut glass, and a number of interesting auto glass-related presentations that will be covered in USGlass’ sister publication, AGRR.

The organizers of Glass Processing Days were not at all adverse to mixing business with pleasure and provided very enjoyable activities each night during the conference. These included a special dinner on Tamglass property and a farewell bacchanal at a local amusement park complete with an Elvis impersonator and models dressed to look like full-size bottles of Finlandia vodka—with the real stuff strapped to their backs for easy pouring. Even DeMille himself would have been impressed.

USGlass will provide continuing coverage of the presentations at GPD during the next few months. Glass Processing Days will next be held in Tampere in the summer of 2003.


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