Volume 48, Issue 12- December 2013

The Italian Job

U.S. Companies Review Vitrum

Ahh … Italy. Good food, good wine, high fashion and, well, if glass is your game, machinery. Every other year the glass industry convenes in Milan, Italy, for the Vitrum trade fair where exhibitors feature a wide selection of glass fabricating equipment and machinery.

This year’s event took place October 23 - 26 at Rho Fiera Milano. Nearly 20,000 attendees from around the globe took part in the event. For the first time foreign attendance was reported as higher than that of Italians, with 9,829 from other countries and 9,770 from Italy. U.S. attendece was up 4.4 percent compared to 2011, with 142 visitors.

According to one attendee, the show this year did seem better attended than the 2011 staging.

“The most encouraging thoughts were the importance of the mid-size companies that want and need to grow in order to stay competitive,” he said. “And to do this they need help not only from the big machinery makers with affordable upgrades but they’re being targeted, too, by the software guys. Companies that already have decent software on their machinery are showing how much better performance is possible with newer systems that don’t cost the earth.”

And on the exhibitor side, a number of U.S.-based companies representing machinery manufacturers, as well as other suppliers, were on hand—many of which have attended the show for years. We asked a few companies to weigh in on this year’s event, and to tell it to us straight: the good, the bad and the ugly.

Michael Spellman, president of IGE Solutions

How many times have you attended the Vitrum fair?

I attended my first Vitrum in downtown Milan in 1983 and have not missed one yet.

Best part about the show this year?
Seeing all our manufacturers at one show. It’s also always attended by a few of our customers interested in seeing what is new. Combine this with great food and wine and it becomes enormously enjoyable for me.

Least favorite part? The new location where the show is held. It is a distance from the city and the traffic is terrible. I really wish it was held back in the city.

For what were attendees looking? The attendees who make the trip seem to be always looking for ways to reduce labor, handling and waste and increase production and profits. Being that this is the core of our company, we never disappoint our friends who make the trip.

Some of the new equipment we featured included: IGE’s partners, primarily Forvet, Landglass, Denver and Turomas, had outstanding booths demonstrating machinery solutions. The two most exciting machines were the Forvet GameChanger featuring the new “Key” loading system. This machine is capable of producing two shower doors every three minutes and 20 seconds “out of square” with one employee. Of course it is super expensive but there are a few U.S. and Canada customers that can justify such a system.

The other outstanding machine was also featured by another Italian manufacturer, Denver, that showed its newest machine called the Vertigo. This machine really may become the newest sensation this decade. Talk about thinking outside of the box, Denver designed this new machine to work in sections. The first section is the key to this line as it polishes straight lines by moving the base of the machine, 10 flat cup wheels, while holding the glass in place. Then the glass turns automatically while the machine moves for the second pass and so on until all four sides are polished. Then, the glass moves either to a vertical CNC section for drilling shaping and milling or to a drop down table and then on to a Forvet 1250. With the latter set up working with a Forvet 1250, you can produce one shower door every four and a half to five minutes using just one employee. We had three handshake deals completed at the show. I am super excited about the possibilities and truly believe this machine will make you look at any other straight polisher like I look at my fax machine.

The one thing I saw that impressed me most: The vibe at the show. It was surprisingly upbeat and fun. However, there was much talk that this would be the last one. True, it was smaller with fewer attendees, but, it is a very special show for me and I really hope it survives.

Biggest trends in machinery right now: IGE is working hard to create trends based around major reduction in labor, handling and waste. We continuously search the world for these supply partners. Recently we have also started to work with quality scanners and other solutions for creating higher quality production. We think the future trends will be exactly how we see the future—automation, integration and innovation.

Jeff Cothery, general manager, Besana-Lovati Inc.
How many times have you attended the Vitrum fair?

This was my first trip to Vitrum.

Best part about the show this year?
We were able to secure agreements with two new machinery producers, one for an automatic sandblast machine and another that produces a unique coolant processing system.

Least favorite part?
The taxis are outrageously expensive.

For what were attendees looking?
Machinery for producing decorative glass, roll coating and silk-screen machines and digital printing were often talked about.

Some of the new equipment we featured included:
 Vertical drilling and routing machines and double edgers, as well as roll coating machinery and cutting tables.

The one thing I saw that impressed me most:
There continues to be steady improvements in all the different types of equipment, which tells me that there is still a lot of innovation going on in the glass industry.

Biggest trends in machinery right now:
Two things seem to be on everyone’s shopping list: faster production with less human interface and machines that add value to a piece of glass, specifically decorative products such as roll coating or digital printing.

Doug Mangus, machine sales director/owner, Salem Distributing

How many times have you attended the Vitrum fair? Seven.

Best part about the show this year? Decorative glass applications and products.

Least favorite part? Low attendance from U.S. customers. Also, the show is shrinking every year. There was some talk among some exhibitors about only going to glasstec in the future.

For what were attendees looking? Heavy glass edgers and digital glass printers.

Some of the new equipment we featured included? New vertical milling machine for shower door production.

The one thing I saw that impressed me most? Cefla’s digital glass printer.

Biggest trends in machinery right now? Decorative glass machinery, digital printers and laminating lines, heavy glass edgers.

Horst Mertes, vice president of sales and marketing, FeneTech

How many times have you attended the Vitrum fair? FeneTech has displayed at Vitrum the last three shows; however, representatives from FeneTech have attended this show for many more years.

Best part about the show this year? While attendance appeared to be down, the quality of the visitors to our booth was very high.

Least favorite part? What appears to be the continued trend of fewer people attending trade shows.

For what were attendees looking? Efficiency gains with integrated software systems and software partners who will provide excellent service and support.

Some of the new equipment we featured included: FeneVision NEO and our new Shower Door Designer.

The one thing I saw that impressed me most:  The large number of companies now manufacturing digital printing machinery for glass.

Biggest trends in machinery right now?  Seamless Integration with software systems like as ours.


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