Welcome to Glass and Window blog. This blog has had weekly entries since April 2010, making it one of the largest, longest, and most verbose blogs ever, with specialist focus on the glass and window industries.

The Glass Racking Company, a specialist supplier of glass and window factory handling and transportation solutions, with customers across the globe. Over time we have enjoyed working with clients to create solutions for them which save time, reduce rework and hence costs, and address health and safety requirements.


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This is the seventh blog is a series on what makes a good glass factory trolley. 

I've had some interesting feedback on this series of blogs on glass trolleys. One reader asked about the health and safety implications of having (or not having) brakes on trolleys. For those that work in factories where the floor is sloping you'll understand this issue. Most trolleys have castors with a push down brake which locks the castor. These work well unless the castor is a swivel (and they mostly are) as the castor has the ability swing under the trolley preventing the user from activating the brake. 

One option would be to use a similar system to the trolleys used in airports where the trolley can only be moved if a sprung loaded arm is held. Letting go springs the brake into action and holds the trolley. Has anyone tried this? What were the results? I'm keen to know.

22 February 2016

This is the sixth blog is a series on what makes a good glass factory trolley. 

Further to last weeks blog on the lean angle of A-frame and L-frame trolleys, the other trend we see is a move to harp or toaster style trolleys. In this format items are not stacked against each other but are stored individually allowing staff to add and remove items without touching or relocating other items. This saves time, reduces damage and hence rework costs, and simplifies storage.

Historically the down side of harp and toaster style trolleys was that they were built for loads of a specific thickness. If wider units where needed to be stored they wouldn't fit. We've developed a tooth storage system which overcomes this. Our tooth is designed specifically for glass and window, works very well, protects the product, saves time, and is a cost effective upgrade to many existing trolley systems.   

Tooth glass storage

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This is the fifth blog is a series on what makes a good glass factory trolley. 

The most common structures for factory trolleys are A-frames and L-frames. The main benefit of an A-frame is that glass is shared across two storage area providing easier and quicker access to items. The main benefit of an L-frame is that it's narrower and easier to move around a factory.

Rather than focus on the pros and cons, in my opinion, the more important aspect of the trolley is the angle of the lean. Ideally product will be placed on trolleys at around 7 degrees allowing safe storage and movement of the product. Most transport systems prefer around 5 degrees lean at this creates a more space efficient trolley for transportation. The crossover is when 5 degree transport trolleys are used in a factory. Unless there is a form of retention (such as poles or safety arms) 5 degrees is too steep and can lead to glass falling of the trolley with rework and health and safety implications.

As more companies move to transport trolleys for glass transportation this is becoming more of an issue.

This is the fourth blog is a series on what makes a good glass factory trolley. For many years we used to finish all our factory trolleys with hot dip galvanising. This was because most glass factories were wet environments. The nature of the equipment available at the time, the processes used and the factory layouts and setups meant there was typically a lot of water on the floor. Nowadays this has changed dramatically with most if not all water processes being encapsulated and a lot more use of drying within the overall glass process.

So what is the best finish – raw, painted or galvanised?

I guess this is more of a user opinion. Some customers like galvanising as it is very permanent and gives an attractive appearance to equipment which can lead to the equipment being better looked after. Paint finish is cheaper but does rub and chip which can lead to unsightly rust marks. As a cheap option raw steel finish can work for some factories. At the end of the day the level of rust experienced on glass trollies is unlikely to lead to product failure so the finish is more about appearance and the impact of rust marking on products.

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This is the third blog is a series on what makes a good glass factory trolley. The bearing surface is that part of the trolley which the payload of glass and/or windows leans against. Glass is easily scratched or shelled which makes it worthless, so keeping the glass in pristine condition within the factory environment is vital, and difficult.

Key attributes for the bearing surface of a glass and/or window trolley are :

1. Soft to the touch. A hard surface will chatter and potentially damage the glass or windows as the trolley is wheeled over uneven surfaces.
2. Not rubber. Rubber has oils which will soak into the glass surface. They may not be noticeable but if the glass gets condensation the marks then the rubber residue becomes very clear.
3. Not carpet or foam. These products will hold debris and swarf and then rub against the glass and/or windows. The bearing surface needs to be difficult to penetrate.
4. Not slippery. The surface should hold the product.
5. Locked in place. Items which are glued in place will often come loose and the nature of most factories is that these trolleys can have sections of bearing surface missing for some time before they are replaced. An inserted section is better.
6. Long life. A product which wears or changes its consistency (such as becoming brittle) is useless.

There are very few products which meet this spec. We developed a polymer bearing surface specifically for the glass and window industry many years ago and it has proved to be brilliant in all the areas listed above. We have a version which fits into our 2 rolled steel sections, and a version which fits into our 4 aluminium sections. We supply these sections and inserts to the glass and window industry for upgrades to existing trolleys, but we don't supply trolley manufacturers as that is a large part of our business which we developed these components for!  

This is the second blog is a series on what makes a good glass factory trolley. The castors at the base of the trolley are one of the most important features and often overlooked. Features to consider on a good castor for the glass and window industry are :

1. Large enough to roll over debris such as shelled glass, aluminium or PVC swarf (shavings), wrapping and dunnage as found in glass and window factories. 160mm (6 inches) is a minimum.
2. A hard plastic wheel which provides a softer ride but is not subject to puncture or picking up glass and other sharp fragments.
3. A rating to suit the load. All quality castors have a manufacturers load rating.
4. Ease of maintenance through grease nipples to lube the bearings and bolt on design for ease of replacement
5. A range of design options such as fixed, swivel, and braked swivel.
6. Proven track record of long life and reliability.

Just last week I was at a customer site where low cost imported trolleys had been purchased. The customer had then sourced replacement castors (which takes time and money) and gone through the process of replacing all the castors. That's 16 nuts and bolts to be undone then redone up per trolley, so a time consuming and expensive exercise.

This is the first blog is a series on what makes a good glass factory trolley. The humble glass trolley is one of the most used items in a glass factory, and is essential for meeting health and safety requirements, has the ability to dramatically improve factory efficiencies if used correctly, and is often one of the most poorly constructed and maintained items in the factory. 

In this first blog I'll focus on the right trolley for the right job. The right trolley is one which is sized for the glass items it carries. Overhangs are a health and safety concern for staff and lead to breakages, wastage, and rework. The point here is that most factories benefit from a range of trolley sizes and designs. Just because one trolley is right for one job doesn't mean it should be standardised on across the factory. Factory managers should identify the types of jobs and glass items which require specialist trolleys and equip the factory with these. The benefits will come.

What will 2016 bring for the glass and window industries? Here's my picks :

1. Glass and windows will continue to increase in size and weight
2. The industry will be buoyant and more profitable than the last few years
3. Staff changes and restructures will be less prevalent than 2015 as companies focus on making the changes from 2015 work 
4. Significant investment in capital items, especially transportation
5. Significant growth and expansion of the second tier glass and window companies 

The last of the 2015 trends provided by readers

Okay, so here's the last of the glass and window industry trends for 2015 :

9. The big glass and window companies have continued to get even bigger but there is still a place for small and medium sized companies
10. There's been more significant staff changes in large glass and window companies in the last 12 months than in any year I've experienced.
11. Increased mechanisation and automation in the large glass factories is reducing the traditional glass knowledge and skill levels of the factory staff
12. The Glass Racking Company continues as a dedicated industry supplier
13. Barx Blog doubled its loyal readership in its 5th year of weekly blogs

More 2015 trends

Thanks for your feedback on last weeks list of the major changes in 2015. Some additional suggestions (the ones I'll choose to print!) are :

4. The complexity of glass types and their relative R ratings (insulation) has continued to increase.
5. The type of glass you have in your house is something people talk about at parties. Glass has become more trendy!
6. Glass lites just keep getting bigger and heavier.
7. Health and Safety issues are more important and more expensive to sort than in the past (when no-one really cared)
8. Christmas seems to have come earlier this year!