Volume 49, Issue 3 - March 2014


PGT Glass Fabrication Expansion Could Bring New Opportunities

Door and window maker PGT Industries took the first steps in greatly expanding its glass-cutting, tempering and laminating abilities when it recently broke ground on a new $15 million glass operations plant. Expected to be completed sometime later in 2014, the new 96,000-square foot facility will initially be used for glass processing, but PGT officials anticipate the additional space could eventually house manufacturing and other operations dictated by future market demand.

The new plant, which will be located just a short distance from the company’s main campus, will feature two high-speed glass cutters, as well as a new tempering oven, with additional plans to add a new laminating machine and insulating glass (IG) line perhaps as soon as 2015. The new facility figures to create between 50 to 60 permanent positions, as well as scores of additional jobs from the construction process.

PGT officials say they based their expansion and added equipment purchasing decisions on technology and end-market needs. IG equipment is most likely the company’s next purchase thanks to a “significant increase in demand over the past 12 months,” says executive vice president and CFO Jeff Jackson.

PGT currently fabricates most of its own glass needs and purchases the rest from an outside partner.

“We currently value-add to raw glass, approximately 80 to 85 percent of our needs,” Jackson says. “Value add includes tempering, lami and/or IG.”

The increase in the company’s production capabilities will allow PGT to more easily react to customer needs in a more timely manner, assuring better lead times and continued control quality, Jackson says.

Making sure company personnel are properly trained to keep up with the added responsibilities and the constant technological advances will perhaps pose the biggest challenge, Jackson says.

“Energy efficiency is driving the demand more than ever before,” Jackson said. “And, at the end, it’s all about serving the customers.”

Quanex Signs Agreement to Sell Nichols Aluminum
Quanex Building Products Corp. signed a purchase agreement to sell its interest in Nichols Aluminum LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary, to Aleris for $110 million in an all-cash transaction. The transaction is subject to customary regulatory approvals and will close shortly after those approvals are obtained.

“As the housing markets continue to recover, we see great opportunity for both organic and acquisitive growth in our Engineered Products Group,” says Bill Griffiths, Quanex chairman, president and CEO. “This transaction will allow us to focus all our energies and capital on enhancing our position as a leading window and door component supplier both domestically and internationally.”

Intermolecular®, Guardian Expand Agreement
San Jose, Calif.-based Intermolecular Inc. and Auburn Hills, Mich.-based Guardian Industries expanded and extended their collaborative development program and strategic IP licensing agreement. The contract extension provides for an immediate increase in resources to be deployed at Intermolecular by both companies. The parties expect to be able to significantly increase the number of new products that will be developed and commercialized resulting from the collaboration through 2017.

“Guardian is committed to growth through product innovation through external partnerships,” says Martin Bracamonte, vice president of science and technology for Guardian. “I believe that having about 25 percent of our innovation portfolio getting nutrition from diversified industries creates a lot of value. This requires high-level crosspollination and Intermolecular is the perfect partner for this.”

Under the contract extension, an expanded Guardian and Intermolecular team will work full-time on both sputtered and liquid coatings at Intermolecular’s technology development center in San Jose.

Dave Lazovsky, Intermolecular’s president and CEO, adds, “Guardian is a technology leader in its industry and has been a tremendous collaborative partner. Making this scale of commitment to growth through product innovation is a testament to Guardian’s vision and leadership.”

Intermolecular develops proprietary technology and intellectual property for its customers focused on advanced materials, processes, integration and device architectures.

PPG Awarded $2.1 Million for Module Manufacturing
PPG Industries’ industrial coatings business received a $2.1 million award from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to help design and pilot a rapid photovoltaic (PV) module assembly process that uses automation. The process is designed to eliminate time and labor from the current assembly process.

PPG will use the funding, delivered through the DOE’s SunShot Initiative, to develop liquid encapsulants that will enable PV modules to be manufactured without the need for capital-intensive laminators. The company will match each dollar committed by the DOE, resulting in a total public-private investment of approximately $4.3 million. It is working with Flextronics International Inc., a solar module manufacturer, to design and test a pilot line at Flextronics’ Milpitas, Calif., facility, which will produce 60- and 72-cell modules.

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