Volume 46, Issue 9 - October 2011


Getting It Right
Getting Tempered Glass Orders Right the First Time
by Paul Bieber

Let’s go over a couple of questions I recently received.

Question: Lately, I can’ t seem to get glass tempered correctly from my fabricators. Even though fabricators seem to be slow, they can’t get my orders right and delivered on time. What can I do? —Ed K.

Dear Ed,
Thanks for your note. You are not alone in this feeling. I have talked with many shop owners and most feel the same way. It seems that with pricing so low, most fabricators have reduced their labor force to bare bones, often keeping the lowest paid workers. And you get what you pay for. Those fabricators that are spending are investing in automation. While glass may be processed quickly, qualified people are not doing final inspections. If a computer scanner says the piece is okay, it must be.

I am guessing you have tried other vendors with the same results. So, what can you do?
• Understand fully your fabricator’s tolerance levels. You may be expecting glass that is a higher quality than they can produce. All fabricators will meet the ASTM C1048 specs, but some do a better job. Compare their written spec sheets. Some fabricators will be better for high volume work, while others specialize in furniture quality. Know which ones to give your orders.

• Tempered glass has distortion based on the direction going into the oven. Specify if the roller wave should be parallel with the height or width. If the glass height is larger than the oven’s width, the glass can only be tempered in one direction.

• Order heat strengthened (HS) glass even when you don’t need to meet codes. HS glass cools slower than fully tempered and develops less warp.

• Try to avoid long, skinny pieces of tempered. They always come out looking poorly. The largest ratio for good glass should be 12:1, length to width.

• Thin glass warps more than thick. A 3/16-inch glass will give you a better looking lite than 1/8-inch, and so forth up the thickness chart.

• Ground or polished edge glass will always look better than seamed edges. It is worth the extra cost.

• Heat treating glass with soft-coat low-E is an art. Make sure your vendor is certified by the float manufacturer to treat its low-E products.

• Tempered laminated glass is a pain-in-the-neck to produce. Order heat strengthened laminated whenever you can.
• Make sure your purchase order and drawings can easily be read. The most common mistakes are misinterpretations from your order.

• Avoid calling in orders. Use fax or email to prevent misunderstandings. Try to order once or twice a day. If you send in ten separate orders during the day, your chance of messing it up is higher. However, faxing patterns changes the size. Don’t do it; mail or deliver the pattern. Each time you copy a template, the size will change slightly. This builds up after a while.

• Don’t make patterns out of materials that shrink, tear or wrinkle. Specify clearly on the pattern where the cut line is. It is always better to lay out your shapes using math than sending a pattern. A 62-inch circle will always be just fine, but if you send in a pattern, and the paper is curled slightly, you may get a 61 ¾-inch circle that matches your pattern.

• Clearly specify how you want your glass shipped. Is it to be shrink-wrapped? Crated? With logo or without? If you don’t specify, the fabricator will use their default, which may not be what you want.

• Don’t promise your customers a certain day for installation until you have the glass in hand and inspected. This shouldn’t have to be the case, but it is the best plan. Nothing wastes time and customer goodwill more than going to a jobsite, unwrapping the glass and finding a hole in the wrong place.

Question: Are the Mets going to win the World Series? —Phil B.

Dear Phil,
Of course they are. It is just hard predicting which year.

Author’s Note: Please send your questions about business issues to paulbaseball@msn.com, call me at 603/242-3521, or fax to 603/242-3527. Whether it is an ethical, legal or accounting question send me a note. If you want advice on marketing or a business plan, help with an employee situation or succession planning, I’ll help you get the answers.

Paul Bieber has 30 years in the glass industry, including 21 years as the executive vice president of Floral Glass in Hauppauge, N.Y., from which he retired in 2005. Read his blog every Tuesday at www.usgnn.com.


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