Volume 42, Issue 5 - May 2007

Buyer’s Block
Purchasing Power
What to Know When Buying High-Volume Glass 
by Paul Bieber

When buying glass from a fabricator or float manufacturer there are two broad categories to consider: high-volume and low-volume. High-volume is loosely defined as one size of one type of glass exceeding 4,000 pounds. This translates roughly to: 
Glass Type                          Glass Size 
3.0 mm (double thick)          2,400 square feet
5.0 mm (3⁄6-inch)               1,600 square feet
6.0 mm (1⁄4-inch)               1,300 square feet
10 mm (3⁄8-inch)                800 square feet
12 mm (1⁄2-inch)                600 square feet
19 mm (3⁄4-inch)                450 square feet

Ordering low-volume from a fabricator is the more expensive way to buy glass. High-volume tempered or laminated glass generally costs 30 percent less than low volume. The advantage of low-volume ordering, though, is speed of delivery. High-volume glass can take three to six weeks getting through the floater and fabricator. 

Buying Tips
The first step is to combine like sizes to get full cases. If you’re ordering a variety of sizes, see which ones are within a ¼ inch and combinable to a common size. Secondly, find out the size of your fabricator’s tempering oven or laminating line. At my former company we ran a 96- x 200-inch tempering oven. If a customer ordered 48 ¼- x 100 ½-inch, we could only get one lite in the oven per cycle. When quotes such as these came in, we would call the customer and see if the job could take 47 7⁄8- by 99 7⁄8-inch, which would allow us to get four lites in the oven per cycle. A simple change like this would save 20 percent on thin glass and as much as 35 percent on heavy glass. Also, a 48 ¼- x 100 ½-inch would bill as a 50- x 102-inch, where the slightly smaller size would be 48- x 100-inch, saving a whopping 2 square feet on each lite. Most of our industry bills at the next even inch, so this rounding down will save you money on all your glass purchases.

In the Details
The grouping of sizes holds true for laminated glass, too. And it provides even more chances to save. The first opportunity is with the machinery size and the second is with the PVB size. Most fabricators stock clear PVB in 12-inch increments: 36-, 48-, 60-inches. So if your glass is 36 1⁄8-inch, the PVB will present more waste to the fabricator even if it fits on the machinery line. This is doubly important with bronze, gray or white vinyl, as most fabricators will stock fewer sizes of these since they are more expensive. Knowing what your fabricator stocks will help you get lower quotes. Be aggressive. Ask your vendors what you can do with a take-off that will result in a lower cost and an easier job.

Earning a high-volume discount on insulating glass is trickier. When you have a tint over a low-E you need the high-volume size for both lites. If it is tempered over low-E laminated, you have the outboard tempered lite and two lites on the inboard laminated, the low-E and the clear. The money saved by having one lite of high-volume and one lite low-volume is insignificant because the handling is more complicated.

Ordering high-volume glass will usually offer some delivery savings as well. High-volume can often be cased less expensively than low volume. Also, you may want your vendor to label the case, but not each individual lite. They may have to label them for their production control programs, but ask if they can skip this for high-volume work. Your savings will come from easier clean up at the job site.

There is a large amount of savings created by managing the boxing and delivery schedules. We’ll cover that in the next Buyer’s Block. Any questions? Just visit the USGlass News Forum at www.usglassmag.com/phpBB2, enter your questions, and our experts will get you the answers. 

the author: Paul Bieber has 30 years in the glass industry, including nine years with C.R. Laurence Co. Inc., and 21 years as the executive vice president of Floral Glass in Hauppauge, N.Y. He retired from Floral Glass in 2005. Mr. Bieber’s opinions are solely his own and not necessarily those of this magazine.

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